Meet the other 2023 nominees for the Access Press Charlie Smith Award

The return of the annual Charlie Smith Award gives Access Press the chance to spotlight outstanding Minnesota people, events and […]

Younger boy pictured drawing on a large piece of paper.

The return of the annual Charlie Smith Award gives Access Press the chance to spotlight outstanding Minnesota people, events and volunteer organizations. Thanks to all who submitted nominations. 

The newspaper board of directors had a challenging time picking a winner, as all nominees were very worthy. Here are the stories of our other 2023 nominees:  

Access North Center for Independent Living’s Accessible Deer Hunt

The Access North Center for Independent Living’s Accessible Deer Hunt is nominated for the work dedicated volunteers do to provide an outdoor experience for people with disabilities. 

As a center for independent living (CIL), Access North is dedicated to supporting people to achieve independent lives in the community. 

The accessible deer hunt has always been more about spending time with enjoying nature, and time with family and friends, than it is about harvesting a deer. Multiple generations gather at deer camps each fall. 

Older man and younger man posing with a deer they hunted in the woods.
Access North Center for Independent Living’s
Accessible Deer Hunt

When a person becomes disabled, it’s all too easy to be excluded from these lifelong traditions. Disability can take away the ability to enjoy the outdoors and can be emotionally devastating. 

The accessible deer hunt restores this tradition for people with disabilities by providing all necessary support to embrace the outdoors and the connection to family, friends and the thrill of the hunt. 

Access North has partnered with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and McCarthy Beach State Park for past four years to plan and implement an accessible deer hunt within the park. The deer hunt provides activity for 10 disabled hunters each fall. 

Park rangers scout out hunting blind locations with CIL staff. Access North provides full support for hunters including specialized transportation if needed, motel stay, food and beverages, hunting blind access, heaters, hunt tripods, transportation into and out of the field, support while in the hunting blind, and support to track, field and process a deer.  

Everything a hunter needs is provided for an enjoyable hunt. Hunters greatly appreciate the experience. 

Access North coordinates with local emergency management services to provide GPS coordinates for hunting parties. Everyone can have a safe event. 

At least three hunters enjoyed one more outing before they died. Families have shared that this was a very meaningful experience for everyone. 

Annually about half of the hunters are military veterans. One said that being able to enjoy hunting again gave him a sense of community he hadn’t enjoyed since returning to civilian life. 

One military veteran became homeless after discharge and was alienated from his son. His transition back to civilian life was a journey of despair and hopelessness that ended with accomplishment and pride. He and his son enjoyed hunting and special time together. 

Deer hunting is a big part of northeastern Minnesota culture. The Access North program is the first of its kind in the region. It relies on area businesses and the Hibbing and Sturgeon Lake Minnesota Deer Hunters Association chapters. About 40 volunteers support each hunt. 

The state park in collaboration with Access North has also added an accessible beach mat for easier entrance into water, a flotation water bike and an action track chair for trail users. All are available for use at no cost. 

Disability Hub MN 

Disability Hub is nominated for its ongoing efforts to be a comprehensive resources and guide for Minnesotans with disabilities, and its work in helping tens of thousands of Minnesotans since 2005. 

 The Disability Linkage Line/Disability Hub is a Minnesota-specific service providing information directly to people with disabilities, family members, caregivers and allies about their problems or issues, either through in person phone calls or online. 

Counselors are trained specifically on the various topics important to Minnesotans with disabilities. the counselors also undergo continuous training to help consumers in areas of concern. The most common issues asked about are health benefits, cash benefits, house/shelter and health and wellness. In 2021, there were 67,937 contacts with the Disability Hub, serving 23,841 people. The average wait time was one minute, eight seconds. 

Consumers report high satisfaction with the help received. The service has a thorough list of Minnesota service providers to make referrals to. 

Disability Hub MN Logo

In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Human Services updated the Disability Linkage Line and relaunched it as Disability Hub MN in recognition of an evolution in its services.

Since 2005, Disability Linkage Line has focused on providing information and assistance. Today, options counselors not only help people find information, they are also trained to make it easier for people with disabilities to review and understand the scope of their benefits, understand their health insurance options, create a plan to enter the workforce or maintain employment, make sure they are getting the most out of employment and benefits, and strategize ways to live more independently. 

The Metropolitan and Southeastern Minnesota Centers for Independent Living provide Disability Hub services for people throughout Minnesota. Disability Hub operates as part of the MinnesotaHelp Network, which includes Senior LinkAge Line (800-333-2433), Veterans Linkage Line (888-LinkVet) and the online resource database MinnesotaHelp.info. 

At Disability Hub MN, there is no such thing as a wrong question. Whether people are facing an immediate concern or planning for the future, Hub staff are available to help. A single toll-free number, 1-866-333-2466, connects callers with an options counselor who will help the person understand options, manage benefits, overcome service barriers and plan for the future. 

People who are helped learn how to live more independently and use services they may not have been aware of. They are also assisted in working through frustrating bureaucratic process often necessary to get services. People helped to live more independently and be less frustrated, allowing them to be more active in their own lives and in their communities. 

Without this service, there would be greater frustration than there already is about disability services and supports Many people would not have received information or services, reducing their ability to live independently and to be of benefit to their communities. 

Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts 

Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts is nominated for its service to provide an array of arts experiences to clients, and for its commitment to its “home” neighborhood and the region. 

Interact is a theater and visual arts center, based in the Hamline Midway neighborhood of St Paul. Interact encourages and welcomes individuals with disabilities to join, create, exhibit and perform works of art across multiple media to express themselves as they wish to do so. It is a unique and valuable organization in its neighborhood and the greater region that contributes back to the community as well in many ways. 

Interacts mission is

“to create art that challenges perceptions of disability has opened doors for artists with disabilities and audiences eager to experience their work. Artists might never have seen the arts as a life choice, but now see the arts as essential to their humanity. With more than 100 artists working in theater and studio arts, Interact is multi-cultural, intergenerational, and embraces the entire spectrum of disability labels.” 

Interact exists in a very interesting space. It is not a “day program,” but neither is it an employment placement agency. It exists as an affordance for people with disabilities who wish to express themselves in creative ways to explore their creative energies and provides them with resources and outlets to do so. It is a full-blown art gallery and theater company that puts on exhibits and performances featuring their members, just like any other gallery or theater company may do, with the slight exception that the artists that they represent are primarily people with disabilities. The core strength of this organization is that it recognizes that people with disabilities have powerful and meaningful creative voices and visions, and that they deserve to have agency (at least as much agency as fully abled people do) when it comes to sharing those creative voices and vision with the greater community.  

Interact has been a powerful member of the Twin Cities arts community since 1996. It’s participants have regularly and continually produced theater performances to entertain and educate our community, many of which have received significant critical acclaim from well-known arts critic in the local media. As a visual arts center, Interact has provided profound resources for local artists (with disabilities) to both produce their artwork and also showcase their material, as well as provide outreach and training programs for members and neighbors alike. 

Younger boy pictured drawing on a large piece of paper.

In addition, this organization has continually been an active and vocal participant in activities sponsored by the Hamline Midway Coalition, which is the district council representing the neighborhood in which the organization exists. Interact is praised for its exemplary contribution to the neighborhood and far beyond. It has a positive presence in the greater Twin Cities communities. Its mission is to highlight the visions and voices of people with disabilities through the arts is unique. 

Shelley Madore 

Shelley Madore is nominated for her long history of fighting for the rights of people with disabilities, personally as a parent of two children with disabilities and professionally as a Minnesota legislator and consultant to several political bodies and grass roots organizations. She has led in influencing legislation and administrative decisions affecting the lives of people with disabilities and their families. 

She is a consultant, former state legislator and past director of the Olmstead Implementation Office (OIO). 

Her long history of advocacy began with involvement in the I35W Solutions Alliance. She also worked on the annual SEEK and Find Fair (Special Education Enrichment for Kids) and other events in Dakota County. 

Shelly Madore headshot

Madore published  Disability Network News, a monthly listserv newsletter, between 2002-2007. 

At about that same time she also was a parent networking specialist for the ARC Greater Twin Cities.

As a state representative in 2007-2009, Madore chaired the Disability Working Group, was vice chair of the Transportation and Transit Committee, and vice chair of the Suburban Caucus. 

She has also served as executive board secretary for the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living, and as a consultant for organizations including Advocating Change Together. 

She led the OIO from 2020 until earlier this year, and had many accomplishments there. 

She was involved in the Governor’s COVID At-Risk Populations workgroup and provided valuable coordination among state agencies in developing two COVID  transportation programs She also served on many state committees and consortiums, on disability issues related to children, transportation and higher education. She collaborated across state agencies and commissions to ensure the coordination and implementation of the Olmstead Plan. She provide fiscal management, expanded and improved community outreach, and work to improve communications and engagement. 

Madore also served on and led a national Olmstead Leaders Group, where national Olmstead best practices are shared and reviewed.  

She was a Bush Fellow in 2017-2019. The grants are given to leaders who have significantly contributed to their communities and wish to develop those skills further. She attended two international disability conferences focused on self-determination and integrated living modeling, and completed a disability studies program. 

She also took part in numerous trainings and workshops that discussed the impacts of generational trauma, embedded systematic racism, and ableism in the community and how intentional focus on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion can bring about impactful change .

Madore is always watching to see if programs make a positive difference. Her intellectual ability to take a difficult concept and make it und understandable has been a hallmark of her work. 

Madore is someone who has affected change at the local, state and national levels. people Her nomination said, “Listen to her because she has something to offer both professionally and personally.” 

Barnett “Bud” Rosenfield 

Barnett “Bud” Rosenfield was nominated posthumously for the Charlie Smith Award. Rosenfield, Minnesota’s Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack July 8. He was 57 years old.  

Rosenfield had served as ombudsman since December 2021. He was appointed to the post with a long record of committed service to Minnesotans with disabilities. He had also worked at the Minnesota Disability law Center for almost 25 years. 

Following law school graduation, Rosenfield clerked for the Honorable Harriet Lansing, then served as the staff coordinator for the state’s Special District Apportionment Panel.

Barnett "Bud" Rosenfield on a bridge.

Steven Schmidt, his colleague at the Disability Law Center said, “At the Minnesota Disability Law Center, Bud will be remembered for his brilliant legal work on significant litigation and public policy involving Home and Community-Based Services waiting lists, budget methodology, and reimbursement rates, as well as the rights of people living in their own homes and residential facilities and improvements to Personal Care Assistance (PCA) services. Bud consistently worked to prevent cuts to PCA services when the proposed language failed to recognize a person’s needs. Bud influenced a huge effort to set rates for home and community-based services. As one colleague noted, this was ‘a huge granular detail requiring sharp math skills and an eye toward assuring folks who needed more staff would have access.’ He served on numerous tasks forces, workgroups and committees, including the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, the ICI Community Advisory Council, the Department of Human Services Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Committee and many, many others. He represented clients in large scale litigation brought by the office, including Masterman v. Goodno, Guggennberger v. Minnesota, and Murphy v. Harpstead. Bud did big things that changed services for people with disabilities on a broad scale across the entire state. 

His colleagues, and so many of the people and family members that he represented over the years, will also remember him as a tireless advocate for the individual person. For nearly 25 years, first as a volunteer at MDLC, and later joining the staff in January 1998, Bud always put the person and the person’s needs first. He represented thousands of people with disabilities in their efforts to access services, supports, and accommodations, sometimes representing the same person multiple times over many years, not giving up until that person was able to access services and supports “to live a completely different, engaged life.” When you think of all of the “big work” he did (and there is a lot of it), we at the Disability Law Center will also remember him for every individual he represented that made a big difference for that one person. His life touched so many other lives and leaves a void that will be felt for many years to come. 

Editor’s note: Rosenfield, although worthy, was not eligible for the award because all nominees must be living at the time of nomination. The newspaper staff and board wished to highlight his work and contributions again. Read his obituary at Rosenfield made an impact for disabled Minnesotans

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