Opportunities – May 2024

Volunteer  Speak for nursing home residents  Long-term care volunteers bring passion and value to their work in nursing care facilities […]

Access Press logo for the Opportunities paper section.


Speak for nursing home residents 

Long-term care volunteers bring passion and value to their work in nursing care facilities across Minnesota. With training and direction from the Office of the State Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, volunteers champion the office’s mission to empower, educate and advocate for the rights of Minnesotans receiving long-term care services and supports. 

Certified volunteers assist paid regional ombudsmen to investigate and advocate for residents in nursing homes and assisted living settings. Residents are often unable, uncomfortable or, in some cases, fearful to advocate for themselves. With a resident’s consent, volunteers assist regional ombudsmen responding to residents’ concerns through complaint investigations. 

The state is looking for volunteers who are passionate about serving people in long-term care. 

There are more than 2,500 nursing homes and assisted living facilities across Minnesota. Fewer than 50 of those facilities currently have a certified ombudsman volunteer. The difference a volunteer makes in the lives of long-term care residents is immeasurable. 

The greatest volunteer needs are in Alexandria, Breckenridge, Chatfield, Dawson, Detroit Lakes, Duluth area, Eveleth, Fergus Falls, Faribault, Grand Rapids, Hastings, International Falls, Luverne, Madison, Moorhead, Northfield, Owatonna, Red Wing, Silver Bay, Spring Valley, Two Harbors, Virginia, Wabasso, Waseca, Wheaton, Willmar, Winona and Worthington 

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can visit Certified Ombudsman Volunteers for more information. 

To contact the Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care with any residents’ rights concerns, visit Contact Us. The office provides free, confidential advocacy services. 

Open house 

Visit Can Do Canines  

Can Do Canines hosts an open house noon-2 p.m. Sat, May 18 at its campus at 9440 Science Center Drive, New Hope. Potential clients, volunteers or anyone who might be interested in supporting the organization is invited to attend to learn how an assistance dog changes the life of a person with a disability. Through a self-guided tour, attendees will be able to watch a trainer working with an assistance dog, talk with a dog host volunteer and staff members from the volunteer department, pose questions to client services coordinators, and meet graduate teams from five types that Can Do Canines trains dogs: hearing, mobility, seizure, diabetes and childhood autism. To request a sign language interpreter for the open house, please contact Laurie at [email protected] or 763-331-3000 at least two weeks in advance. FFI: candocanines.org 

Children and families 

PACER workshops sampling 

PACER Center offers many useful free or low-cost workshops and other resources for families of children with any disabilities. Some in-person workshops are offered at PACER Center, at Greater Minnesota locations and also offered online. Other workshops are online and livestreamed at this time. Advance registration is required for all workshops. At least 48 hours’ notice is needed for interpretation. Check out PACER’s website and link to the newsletter of statewide workshops that allows participants to pick and choose sessions designed for their needs. Access Press only lists a sampling of the workshops offered. 

Tech for Teens Club: 3D Printed Lightsaber is 10-11 a.m. Sat, May 4 at PACER Center. May the 4th be with you! Learn how to use a 3D printer and design software to design and print a lightsaber. Then, create a circuit to make the lightsaber light up. 

Making the Move: Your Child’s Transition from Early Childhood Special Education to Kindergarten is 6:30-8 p.m. Tue, May 7. Online. Kindergarten is a big step in any child’s life. Parents of young children with disabilities will receive information to plan for this transition and learn strategies to help their child be successful. 

Tools to Support Meal Planning and Cooking is 1-2 p.m. Wed, May 8. Online. Learn about apps and devices for meal planning, cooking instructions and cooking tools to help adults with disabilities to live more independently. 

Think It, Dream It, Do It: Post-High School Options for Students with IDD: Community-based Employment Stories is 6:30-8 p.m. Thu, May 9 for first session. Online. In session one of a series, learn from a panel of young adults and their families about their journeys to community-based employment. Presented with Larissa Beck, Director of Community Living Supports with Reach for Resources, and Brian Begin from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration. 

The second session is 6:30-8 p.m. Tue, May 21.  Online. Learn about national higher education resources and opportunities that are continuing to expand in Minnesota. Presented with Dan Habib from Think College, Mary Hauff with the Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Consortium, Dawn Allen, Director of Bethel Build, and a panel of young adults and their families. 

Living, Learning, and Working After High School is 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at PACER Center. Join PACER for a mini-conference on transition to adulthood. Minnesota parents of young adults with disabilities are invited to hear from community experts and PACER transition specialists on a variety of topics. Sessions will include changes when youth turn 18, supported decision-making and other alternatives to guardianship, preparing for postsecondary, and how schools and vocational rehabilitation services support a youth’s employment goals. The workshop is funded by a grant from the Schulze Family Foundation. 

Creating a Crisis Plan for Youth With Mental Health Needs is noon-1 p.m. Wed, May 22. Online. The workshop will provide an opportunity to work through an example crisis plan and provide suggestions on how a crisis plan can be used for positive support at home or in school, and with 504 Plans and IEPs. FFI: PACER, 952-838-9000, 800-537-2237, pacer.org  

Info & Assistance

Many classes available 

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has set up a wide variety of free and in-person online mental health classes. Choices include Hope for Recovery, Transitions, Ending the Silence, Understanding Early Episode Psychosis for Families, In Our Own Voice, Family to Family, Positive Psychology, Creating Caring Communities, smoking cessation, a suicide prevention class called QPR – Question, Persuade and Refer, a special QPR class for Agricultural Communities and many more. 

NAMI Minnesota’s Online Support Groups have moved to HeyPeers. HeyPeers provides a safe, easy to access environment exclusively designed for online support group meetings. 

The classes and online support groups are designed for family members and caregivers, persons living with a mental illness, service providers, and also the general public. Find a complete listing of these classes and how to join in by going to namimn.org and clicking on “Classes” FFI: namimn.org 

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