People and Places - April 2011

Granquist honored for advocacy

 Luther Granquist, attorney for the Minnesota Disability Law Center (MLDC) for 36 years and a regular contributor to Access Press, was honored by The Arc Minnesota for his decades-long commitment to protecting and upholding the rights of people with developmental disabilities.

“Few people have impacted the lives of as many Minnesotans with developmental disabilities as has Luther Granquist,” said Pat Mellenthin, The Arc Minnesota’s Chief Executive Officer. “His work enhanced the dignity and protected the legal and human rights of those who otherwise might be forgotten. Children with disabilities living with their families, students with disabilities whose rights to an appropriate education were in jeopardy, and adults with disabilities living and participating in their communities have all benefited from Luther’s advocacy.”

The honors came during The Arc Minnesota’s Public Policy Recognition Event March 12. The annual event honors individuals for their lifetime achievement in advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities. This year’s event was held at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville.

Tim Larson, The Arc Minnesota Board President; Richard Brown, a self-advocate whom Luther supports at Partnership Resources; Anne Henry, attorney at MDLC; and members of Advocating Change Together (ACT) all gave heartfelt testimony (and In ACT’s case, a musical tribute) to Granquist’s work and influence over the past decades. 

Granquist’s career with the MDLC spanned four decades. He was a key figure in the Welsch lawsuits that began in the 1970s, when parents and others raised their voices against conditions in state hospitals.

Granquist’s and others’ work on these lawsuits helped start the movement of people with developmental disabilities from institutions into the community.

Retired from the center, Granquist has continued involvement with involved with disability issues and organizations. He writes a monthly column for Access Press; volunteers weekly with Partnership Resources, providing support to Brown by helping to program Brown’s communication device; gathers and organizes historical documents for the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities’ website; and assembles material for a book he is writing on the history of disability in Minnesota.

Granquist’s previous honors include the Bernard P. Becker Award for skilled legal representation for low-income and disadvantaged persons; the Honorary Award of the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation for Peace and Justice; and special recognition by Arc Greater Twin Cities, for helping to realize The Arc’s vision of creating communities where persons with disabilities would live as fully-included and productive members of society.

 

Five honored for removing barriers

Five Minnesota citizens, educators and organizations were recognized April 5 as champions of removing barriers to independence for people with disabilities.

STAR is Minnesota’s Assistive Technology Act Program, administered through the Minnesota Department of Administration. The STAR program is federally funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended in 2004.

The Minnesota STAR Program’s Awards for Excellence in Assistive Technology honor individuals and groups for championing the removal of barriers to independence through the use of assistive technology (AT). AT is any device that maintains, improves or increases function at home, school, work and in the community. Examples of AT range from a magnifier for printed materials and a ramp for accessing a building or home to software that generates speech, reads text, controls appliances and performs computer tasks.

Recipients include pioneers in the field of assistive technology, educators, professionals and consumers who promote the use of assistive technology. The five winners were honored during a ceremony at the state capitol. Winners are Consumer, Tana Vogele, Cottage Grove; Innovator–Auditory Sciences, Northfield; Advocate, Richard Brown, St. Louis Park; Educator– Erika Kluge Frake, Delano and Debbie Bock, Bloomington.

 

New program is unveiled

After raising nearly $2 million in start-up funds, People Incorporated Mental Health Service opened its innovative new facility, Huss Center for Recovery and Stark Mental Health Clinic, at 2120 Park Avenue in Minneapolis. An April 6 open house allowed the public to tour the restored Crosby mansion (Huss Center for Recovery locale) and its carriage house (Stark Mental Health Clinic locale).

Using elements of the “harm reduction” model— rather than the Twelve Step approach—the Huss Center will provide treatment for metro area residents who are diagnosed with chemical dependency (CD), many of whom also have an underlying mental illness (MI). The abstinence-based Twelve Step approach has generally not worked well for people with CD and underlying MI, who need a setting where relapse is not viewed as total failure. The center provides residential treatment, a day program, and aftercare. The clinic offers psychiatric, nursing, and counseling services. Together, the center and clinic will treat approximately 400 people per year.

Dr. Tim Burkett, CEO of People Incorporated, says the new facility is a milestone. “This is a significant leap forward for those who cycle in and out of CD programs due to underlying mental illness. We’ve been using the harm reduction model for over 12 years in other programs, and its success points to it becoming the new norm for treating people with co-occurring CD and MI.”

This program got started in early 2009, when Hennepin County asked People Incorporated to open a harm reduction CD/MI program. After raising nearly $2 million and investing approximately $500,000 of its own capital, People Incorporated purchased the Crosby mansion in 2010. Renovations were completed in early March 2011, and the first clients moved in on March 7. Fees for residential and outpatient services will cover anticipated expenses moving forward.

 

Generosity shown at annual event

Hennepin County Bar Foundation’s annual Bar Benefit raised more than $124,000 to serve the legal needs of those in need, and the Volunteer Lawyers Network raised more than $18,000 through its silent auction and raffle held in conjunction with the benefit. Foundation President Marshall Lichty expressed his enthusiastic thanks to all for their generosity.

The benefit, held at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, Minneapolis, was an evening of fellowship, fun, and fundraising, supported by 450 members of the legal community, both bench and bar. In addition to providing financial support for legal services, the Bar Benefit also provides an opportunity for the legal community to honor those who have distinguished themselves in pro bono work. This year’s Pro Bono Publico awards were presented to Tom Tinkham, Dorsey & Whitney, Distinguished Service award; Keith S. Moheban, Leonard Street and Deinard, Excellence in the Private Sector; and Roderick “Rick” Macpherson, III, Mid-Minnesota Legal Services, Excellence in the Public Sector.

Founded in 1968, the Hennepin County Bar Foundation is dedicated to the mission of ensuring the fairness of, and accessibility to, the legal system by promoting public understanding and confidence in our system of justice. Toward this end, the foundation makes grants each year to community organizations involved in promoting the administration of justice, public legal education and the delivery of legal services to the citizens of Hennepin County. Grants for 2011 will be announced in July. More than $800,000 in grants has been distributed in the last decade, supported in large part by the Bar Benefit, as well as individual contributions from the members of the Hennepin County Bar Association.

 

Coalition focuses on putting patients ahead of politics

Putting the focus on patients instead of politics, the newly formed Minnesota Patient Advocacy Coalition held an event March 25th to mark the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

The coalition, consisting of more than a dozen health and patient groups representing the elderly, the disabled, patients, survivors and caregivers whose lives have been impacted by diseases or chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis, is dedicated to giving patients a stronger voice in the capitol and improving access to affordable health care for all Minnesotans.

“For far too long, far too many people have been forced to make the difficult choice between saving their lives and their life savings,” said Robianne Schultz, a cancer patient and member of the Patient Advocacy Coalition. “The Affordable Care Act, while not perfect, includes significant patient protections that need to be fully implemented.”

Patient stories from across the state were highlighted at the event. Minnesotans and their families who live with cancer, Type I diabetes, HIV-positive status and psoriatic arthritis spoke. Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger, M.D., gave an overview of Affordable Care.

 

Anti-bullying advocates at White House

Paula F. Goldberg, executive director of PACER Center, and PACER advocate Lynn Miland, along with her daughters Kelly and Maggie, participated in the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention

March 10. They heard President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama deliver remarks on bullying prevention. The Obamas, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services welcomed students, parents, teachers and others to the conference who have been affected by bullying as well as those who are taking action to address it. Participants had the opportunity to talk with Obama and representatives from the highest levels of his administration about how all communities can work together to prevent bullying.

“It is an honor to be invited to this conference,” Goldberg said. “For the past five years, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center has been working to educate communities about this serious issue and provide communities with the tools to prevent bullying. I’m glad to see that the president has made this a priority.”

Miland’s daughter Kelly,19, has autism and was verbally and physically bullied during her school years. Miland worked successfully with school administration to keep Kelly safe at school. Miland’s other daughter, Maggie, has seen the effects bullying had on her sister and others and is taking action to prevent bullying and create awareness of the issue at Northfield High School where she is a junior. She created a sign titled “NHS Stands Up to Bullying,” which hangs in the school’s entry way and contains hundreds of student signatures. The signatures are surrounded by a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that says: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center provides information on bullying prevention for children, teens, schools and communities as well as tools that everyone can use to take a stand against bullying. Learn more at www.PACER.org/bullying.

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