People and Places - December 2010

Vinland announces expansion

Vinland Center has announced its Expanding the Promise capital campaign goal to just meet current needs, but also to add the physical capacity necessary to carry Vinland into the next decade. Since 1990, Vinland has been providing tailored chemical health services to adults with cognitive disabilities and mental health issues.
   
Demand for Vinland’s services is growing but the program cannot grow without additional space. For the past several years, Vinland has been operating at capacity at its main campus. Vinland has grown its off-site programming and adapted its existing spaces to keep pace with its growth. However, the organization cannot accommodate its current and future demand without a significant capital investment.
   
“This expansion will make a significant positive impact on Vinland’s capacity to provide life-changing programs to those who need them most,” said Vinland Executive Director Mary Roehl. “We have been operating at capacity with a waiting list for people trying to get into our program. The people that we cannot serve are not getting treatment or are placed in programs unable to meet their needs due to their multiple disabilities.”
   
“Over 80 percent of our alumni report abstinence or reduced use and 71 percent report improvement in their quality of life,” Roehl said. “This relates to a decrease in future treatments and incarcerations, which is a cost savings to their communities.”
   
The first phase of the expansion will begin during spring of 2011. It will cost approximately $3.5 million and add a total of 14,130 square feet to Vinland’s main campus. Twenty additional chemical health beds will help to reduce the waiting list for Vinland’s chemical health residential program.
   
A new fitness studio will be an expansion of the current fitness center. Windows will fill the fitness studio with natural light and offer views of Lake Independence. An expanded fitness center will provide adequate space for group classes such as mindfulness meditation, yoga and the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi.  The therapeutic exercise program is the largest complementary care service at Vinland.  The current fitness center is in a windowless room with just enough space for the cardio and weight equipment. There is no appropriate space for group classes such as meditation and yoga, and participants currently lay their mats around the cardio equipment.
   
New conference rooms and offices will be built to provide counseling space for the clients. The conference rooms will provide additional space for case managers to meet with clients, their families and social workers. Vinland currently has three meeting areas for therapy groups. In these meeting areas Vinland not only provides group therapy but also complementary care services such as family programming, traumatic brain injury groups, and mindfulness-based meditation programming. New meeting rooms will provide space for Vinland to offer expanded therapy services.
   
“Increased capacity will allow us to get the client into the appropriate treatment without unnecessary delays and will enable us to offer more complementary care services that are specifically designed to their unique needs,” Roehl said.



Mustangs, Robins win titles
   
The first fall Minnesota State High School League adapted prep sports tournaments ended with Anoka-Hennepin and Robbinsdale/ Hopkins/Mound-Westonka claiming titles in soccer. The tournaments were held Nov. 19-20 at Stillwater High School.
   
Anoka-Hennepin’s win gave that school three titles this year. The Mustangs previously won state crowns in floor hockey and softball. The team won the Cognitive Impairments (CI) soccer title with a 5-4 win over defending champion Park Center.   It was the first CI adapted soccer state title for Anoka-Hennepin since 1993. Park Center had won in 2008 and 2009.
   
The teams advanced to the finals with identical 8-0-1 records. The Mustangs were led by junior Zach Theroux, who scored all five of his team’s goals.
   
St. Cloud Area won third place 4-3 over Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville. The consolation title was won by Dakota United, which defeated Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee 4-2. South Suburban and Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville were the other teams in the tournament. The CI all-tournament team included Park Center’s Auggie Wodrich, Jack Dougba and Andy Brown; Anoka-Hennepin’s Tyler Kurkowski, Zach Theroux and Jeff Shogren; St. Cloud Area’s Marcelli Kombo and David Lewis; Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville’s Ted Snyder and Alex Vandegrift; and Joe Sandey of Dakota United.
   
In the Physical Impairments (PI) Division, the Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka Robins won a third consecutive state championship. The team won, 8-1, over Dakota United.  The Robins capped an undefeated season with the title. The Robins were led by senior Erin Nickell, who scored three goals in rapid succession to start the game.
   
Park Center defeated St. Paul Humboldt 11-2 for third place. The consolation title was won by Anoka-Hennepin, which defeated South Suburban 8-4. Other teams participating were Wayzata/Minnetonka and Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville. The all-tournament team included Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka’s Erin Nickell, Harrison Lerner and Mike Madson; Dakota United’s  Eric Liggett, Anthony Vervais and Jaayson Meyer; Park Center’s Evan Engle and Olivia Maccoux; Humboldt’s James Yang and Poa Vang; Corey Gieske of Anoka-Hennepin and Nick Nieson of South Suburban



Local couple gives wings to future assistance dogs
   
Six golden retrievers from the East Coast are preparing for new jobs in Minnesota. Rod and Barbara Burwell generously provided the “Wings of Gold” for the beautiful canines. The Twin Cities couple flew the precious cargo on their corporate jet from New York to the Twin Cities.
   
“This has been a wonderful collaboration from the beginning,” said Can Do Canines Executive Director Al Peters, “from Cynthia at Cynazar Golden Retrievers, who donated these extraordinary dogs, to Rod and Barbara Burwell, who agreed to transport them, this has been a significant undertaking made easier by people who are dedicated to helping us achieve our goal of placing assistance dogs with people who need them. Having the Burwell Enterprises’ jet pick the dogs up and transport them here has saved our organization thousands of dollars in driving costs and several days of our staff and volunteer time. Instead, these dogs rode in the lap of luxury in the cabin of the plane.”
   
The six ten-month-old golden retrievers will go on to live with volunteer puppy raisers, where they will begin their training to become assistance dogs for people with disabilities. Cynazar Golden Retrievers is based in Pennsylvania.

Barbara Peterson Burwell, who was the honorary chair of the Can Do Canines Fetching Ball Gala last year, said, “I have personally seen the difference these dogs make in the lives of the people they are teamed with. They give back independence, freedom and peace of mind to individuals and families who receive them. Knowing that Can Do Canines gives these extraordinary dogs to clients free of charge makes it even more important that we do everything we can to help.”
   
The dogs arrived at the same time that 17 other Can Do Canines assistance dog teams graduated from the training program, including the organization’s first-ever Iraq war veteran and dog. Graduation was held Saturday November 6 at the Can Do Canines facilities at 9440 Science Center Drive in New Hope.
   
Can Do Canines is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities by creating mutually beneficial partnerships with specially trained dogs. All services are provided to clients free of charge. The organization is supported by contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations, and community service organizations.



Schools feted as family-friendly
   
Four Minnesota schools are honored as family-friendly schools by the Minnesota Parent Center, Minnesota’s PIRC (Parental Information and Resource Center), a project of PACER Center. The awards were presented in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education as part of Minnesota Parent Involvement Month in October. Parents were asked to nominate schools for efforts to create a family-school partnership and a warm, welcoming environment for families.
   
“Schools that invite parents to be partners in education realize that families play an important role in student success,” said Heather Kilgore, director of Minnesota Parent Center, MN PIRC. “We applaud these schools, along with the parents of their students, for demonstrating what strong school-family partnerships can achieve.”
   
The winning schools were: Barack and Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary in St. Paul, Hartley Elementary School in Waseca, St. John the Evangelist/St. Pius X in Rochester and Valley Crossing Community School in Woodbury.
   
To nominate a school, parents were asked to respond to the following questions: Does the staff make the school building a welcoming and inviting place? Do school policies and practices encourage you to be involved with your child’s learning? Do the adults in the building listen, invite, and greet you with friendly tones? Are the written materials understandable and useful?  Do they give you the information you find helpful?
   
Parent Involvement Month is sponsored by the Minnesota Parent Center, MN PIRC. It is cosponsored by the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Association of School Administrators, Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals, Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association, Minnesota Association of Administrators of State and Federal Education Programs, Minnesota School Boards Association and Minnesota PTA.



St. Paul psychiatrist wins NAMI award
   
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Minnesota presented St. Paul psychiatrist Dr. Steve Harker with its Professional of the Year Award at its annual conference recently in St. Paul. Harker has been a leader in bringing Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams to Minnesota and in making sure the teams meet national standards. ACT teams provide an array of coordinated services to help individuals with serious mental illnesses with community living.
   
“In collaboration with the Hennepin Regions Psychiatric Residency Program he has developed a community psychiatric residency program which will ensure that we will have psychiatrists willing to serve on ACT teams in the future,” said NAMI Executive Director Sue Abder-holden. 



North Country Health Services, Sanford Health to merge
   
Two long-standing health care systems announced today plans to combine their strengths and expertise, which will offer greater depth and breadth of services to people in northern Minnesota. North Country Health Services (NCHS), based in Bemidji and Sanford Health, based in Fargo, and Sioux Falls, announced the NCHS Board of Trustees and Sanford Board of Trustees have signed letters of intent to launch the merger.
     
“North Country Health Services and Sanford Health announced today our intent to come together as one organization, better positioning us to lead in northern Minnesota by delivering innovative health care and expanding our capabilities in highly specialized areas of medicine,” said Dr. Jim Bensen, North Country board of trustees.
   
Coming together enhances an already solid relationship between NCHS and Sanford Health. By integrating, $75 million would be invested into the community through facilities, recruitment and technology over the next ten years. A portion of the total investment, a $5 million gift, will be given to the NCHS Foundation to begin that process. NCHS and Sanford Clinic Bemidji have worked together for many years. Both have deep roots in the Bemidji region and have a strong reputation for quality and excellence in staff, technology and service.
   
“Joining with Sanford in a fully integrated model of care is truly a natural progression of our long-standing relationship. With an eye toward the future, we are seeking new ways of improving health and access to care for people across the entire region, including key services like heart, cancer, orthopedics and neuroscience,” said Paul Hanson, CEO and president, NCHS.
   
The fully integrated clinic and hospital in Bemidji will be a not-for-profit, community-based health care system. It will combine the experience of the two health care organizations, which will increase efficiency and lead to better coordination of patient care.



Scarves are sought for team
   
Special Olympics Minnesota has teamed up with Coats & Clark, owner of Red Heart® Yarns to announce the 2011 Special Olympics USA Scarf Project. This nationwide initiative gives knitters and crocheters the opportunity to contribute to the Special Olympics Program(s) of their choice, and to know that in doing so, they are contributing to an unprecedented sense of unity and support for the Special Olympics athletes and the movement as a whole.
   
Special Olympics Minnesota is requesting 1,000 scarves from the knitting and crocheting community by Feb. 11, 2011 to give to participating athletes, coaches and volunteers to wear as a symbol of unity during Winter Games this year.
   
“These hand- knit and crocheted scarves are truly symbols of unity and encouragement for our Special Olympics Minnesota athletes,” said Dave Dorn, President of Special Olympics Minnesota. “We are excited to spread this message of support as we distribute the donated scarves at Winter Games this February.”
   
Participating knitters and crocheters are asked to follow specific size and yarn color guidelines, but creativity in pattern and design is encouraged. Scarves should be 54-60 inches long, 6 inches wide and be knit or crocheted using Red Heart® Yarns Super Saver 886-Blue and Red Heart® Yarns Super Saver 512-Turqua. 
   
Individual program deadlines and additional instructions can be found at www.scarvesforspecialolympics.org. The website contains everything from project guidelines and specific state deadlines to frequently asked questions and other ways to contribute to Special Olympics.

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