People and Places – December 2015

Eagan nonprofit honors those who provide jobs ProAct Employer of the Year honors went to organizations that have bettered the lives […]

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Eagan nonprofit honors those who provide jobs

ProAct Employer of the Year honors went to organizations that have bettered the lives of people with disabilities through employment opportunities and partnership with the Eagan-based nonprofit. Four winners were announced at ProAct’s annual recognition banquet last month. The winners are Carquest, Cub Foods, Enviro-bate, Hilton Garden Inn, IMV Technologies USA and City of Red Wing.

“Having work to do provides a sense of well-being and satisfaction to all of us,” said ProAct President and CEO Steven Ditschler. “And, employers play a large role in our internal and external operations as we serve people with disabilities, who provide a product or service that benefits others.”

The Supported Employment award was shared by two winners, Carquest and Cub Foods. The relationship with the auto parts store developed over 25 years, and culminated with the recent retirement of a ProAct individual. “They have provided him with equal opportunities as an employee of Carquest and supported him as his skills grew,” said Sherri Coons, a ProAct designated coordinator. Leaders of the auto parts store also threw their longtime employee “the retirement party of a lifetime,” she said.

The other honoree, Cub Foods at Town Centre in Eagan, hired ProAct consumer Teddy Taft to work at the meat counter earlier this year. Taft also cleaned the store. Designated Coordinator Matt Briggs made regular visits to the grocer, and found that managers there had helped Taft to thrive in his various tasks. Taft died unexpectedly in August and was honored posthumously with an Employment Success Award. Winning the Community Employment Award is Hilton Garden Inn in Eagan. ProAct sends housekeeping crews on a daily basis to support Hilton’s employment needs. It also employs a ProAct laundry crew each day.

Vocational Partner Award winner EnviroBate is an environmental contractor that provides hazardous material abatement and other services. Individuals from ProAct experience vocational assessments or work tryouts at the Minneapolis business in a completely integrated setting, said Anna Shields, a ProAct vocational specialist.

“EnviroBate has been extremely flexible and understanding with us,” she said. “They have supported ProAct and the individuals we serve, providing employment experiences to individuals looking to enter the workforce.”

The winner of the Business Partner Award is IMV Technologies USA, an international company with offices in Maple Grove. IMV is a repeat award recipient. “It’s more of an honor for us,” said Eric Salonen, who serves in supply chain and operations with IMV. “It’s humbling to be able to partner with them, a mu-



Live Well at Home grants announced

Services that help older adults in Minnesota stay in their homes as they age are receiving more than $7 million in funds appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton, and awarded by the Minnesota Department of Human Service (DHS). The 62 projects being funded through the department’s Live Well at Home grants, previously known as Community Service/Community Services Development grants, provide a variety of services and supports that allow older Minnesotans to remain in their homes rather than move to nursing homes or other more expensive settings.

“Minnesota is a national leader in long-term services and supports for older adults in part because we provide this seed money to community organizations and providers to be creative in helping people remain in their homes as they age,” said DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “In addition to helping meet daily needs such as nutrition and housekeeping, these grants promote new technology and other innovations that benefit both older Minnesotans and their caregivers.” She announced the grants while visiting the Fergus Falls home of a Pioneer-Care client. PioneerCare is using the Live Well at Home grant to expand the use of technology by older adults and their families, empowering them to live more independently in their current homes.

Many grant recipients are non-profit community organizations that use a combination of paid staff and volunteers to provide core home and community-based services so that people throughout Minnesota regardless of income can remain in their own homes for as long as possible. These grant recipients are required to generate income by charging for services through the use of a sliding fee scale.

Projects receiving grants in state fiscal year 2016:

Adult Day Services, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard counties, transportation, adult day services, $219,061

Aging Services for Communities, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Dakota, Freeborn, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Rice, Scott, Sibley, Steele and Waseca counties, transportation, respite, homemaker services, $200,000

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Ramsey County, caregiver support and education, $166,506

ANGELS Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Aitkin County, caregiver support, respite, transportation, home modification, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $50,000

Argyle H.O.P.E. Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Marshall County, respite, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $101,077

Arrowhead Parish Nurse Association, Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Lake, Pine and St. Louis counties, caregiver support, health promotion and chronic disease self-management, $33,375

Atwater Area Help for Seniors, Kandiyohi and Meeker counties, caregiver support, respite, homemaker, transportation, chores, companion, service coordination, health promotion, $52,900

Avinity, St. Louis County, health monitoring technology, $358,051

CAPI USA, Hennepin County, companionship, transportation, health promotion, homemaking, service coordination, $73,078

Care Partners of Cook County, Cook County, caregiver support and education, respite, companion, transportation, health promotion, chores and service coordination, $75,374

Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties, care coordination, caregiver support and health promotion, $125,222

Community Partners, Lake County, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, respite, caregiver support, $51,000

Como Park Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, care coordination/
service management, health promotion and chronic disease management, $98,912

Conway Battle Creek Healthy Seniors, Ramsey County, transportation, chore, health promotion, service
coordination, caregiver support and respite, homemaker services, $84,940

DARTS, Dakota County, home modification and repairs, $80,860

Dayton’s Bluff Seniors Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, caregiver support, $99,000

Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind, Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties, care coordination, caregiver support and direct service, $253,120

East Side Neighborhood Services, Hennepin County, adult day services, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, health promotion, $129,301

East Suburban Resources, Inc., Washington County, chore and homemaker services, $41,742

Family Pathways, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties, caregiver support and consultation, respite, companionship, transportation, health promotion, elder abuse prevention, chores, homemaker, service coordination, $250,000

Family Service Rochester, Olmsted County, caregiver support, respite, companionship, transportation, health promotion, chores, home modification, homemaker and service coordination, $91,340

Floodwood Services and Training, Inc., Carlton and St. Louis counties, adult day services, $93,451

Foley Area CARE, Benton County, transportation, chore services, health promotion, service coordination, companion, homemaker services, $72,100

Granite Falls Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties, dementia-
friendly community development, health promotion and chronic disease, $102,502

Grove City Area Care, Meeker County, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, chore, companion, health promotion, $123,561

Hamline Midway Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, chore services and health promotion, $66,000

Interfaith Caregivers Faith in Action in Faribault County, Faribault, Martin, Watonwan counties, chore, health promotion, service coordination, caregiver support, companion, homemaker, $153,645

Keystone Community Services, Ramsey County, transportation, care coordination/service management, chore, companion, health promotion, homemaker, $165,871

La Crescent Area Healthy Community Partnership, Houston County, transportation, chore homemaker, $85,574

Lake Region Health Care, Clay, Grant, Otter Tail and Stevens counties, care coordination and service management, $123,647

Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, Inc., Aitkin, Carlton, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties, caregiver support, $118,765

Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area, Becker, Hubbard and Wadena counties, transportation, caregiver support, home modification, health promotion, chores, homemaker, service coordination, volunteer management, $103,400

Longfellow-Seward Healthy Seniors Program, Hennepin County, caregiver support, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $64,200

The Lutheran Home Association, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Scott and Sibley counties, caregiver support, care coordination, health promotion and chronic disease self-management, $250,000
Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership, Becker, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Otter Tail and Wadena counties, chore, homemaker and home modification, $250,000

Merriam Park Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, caregiver support, respite care, health promotion, chore and homemaker service, service coordination and volunteer management, $101,431

Metro Meals on Wheels, Anoka, Hennepin, Dakota, Ramsey, Scott and Carver counties, service coordination, $56,227

Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance, Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Crow Wing, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, St. Louis, Stearns, Washington and Wright counties, health promotion and chronic disease management, $77,914

Nokomis Healthy Seniors, Hennepin County, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $92,974

North East Neighborhoods Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, caregiver support and education, respite, health promotion, chores and service coordination, $50,000

North End – South Como Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, care coordination and service management, chore, companion, health promotion, $130,000

North Shore Area Partners, Lake County, transportation, caregiving support and education, respite, chores, homemaker, companion and service coordination, $83,668

Our Lady of Peace, Ramsey County, caregiving support, respite, transportation, chores, health promotion, non-skilled home care, service coordination, companionship, $47,500

The Owatonna Healthy Seniors Program, Steele County, caregiver support, respite, transportation, chores, companion, service coordination, $87,706

PARTNERS, Otter Tail and Wilkin counties, transportation, care coordination and service management, health promotion and chronic disease management, $80,900

Paynesville Area Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Kandiyohi, Meeker and Stearns counties, transportation, caregiver support, service management, chore, homemaker, companion and health promotion,$87,642

Pelican Rapids OAKS Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Otter Tail County, caregiver support, transportation, health promotion, chores, companion, service coordination, $72,300

Pillsbury United Communities, Hennepin County, transportation and health promotion, $125,587

Pine Island Area Home Services, Dodge, Goodhue and Olmsted counties, transportation, health promotion, caregiver support, respite, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $31,000

PioneerCare, Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Otter Tail, Stevens, Todd, Wadena and Wilkin counties, care coordination and health promotion, $209,443

Red Lake County Social Services, Red Lake County, chore, homemaker, caregiver support, health promotion and chronic disease management, $121,334

Southeast Seniors Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Hennepin County, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, chore, companion, health promotion, homemaker, chronic disease management, $68,400

St. Anthony Park Area Seniors, Ramsey County, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, chore, home modification and repair, $96,800

City of Stephen, Marshall County, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $54,500

Store to Door, Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties, grocery delivery, $40,000

Todd County, Todd, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison and Wadena counties, kitchen renovation, $127,255

Tri-Community Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Marshall County, transportation, health promotion, service coordination, companionship, $99,648

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc., Clay, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau counties, transportation and companion services, $100,000

Trust, Inc., Hennepin County, transportation, caregiver support, $60,882

Vine Faith in Action, Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Nicollet and Watonwan counties, outreach and service coordination to immigrant and rural elders, $250,000

Volunteer Services of Carlton County, Inc., Aitkin, Carlton and St. Louis counties, development of wellness center, health promotion, $250,000

City of Warren, Marshall County, transportation, chore services, health promotion, service coordination, companionship, $40,000.



CMS changes could affect more people

Controversy continues over the competitive bidding program overseen by the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid (CMS). This time, specialized wheelchair accessories could be affected by program changes. Those who need specialized auxiliary attachments could end up paying more for the items needed for daily life, having fewer choices in what they can buy and having longer waits to obtain needed items or to have items repaired.

Unless Congress can pass bills before year’s end, the changes will take effect on January 1, 2016. That is when CMS is set to expand the competitive bidding program to include specialized wheelchair accessories or attachments. The program expansion will slash reimbursement rates for seat and back cushions, power recline and tilt systems, specialty drive controls and other complex rehabilitative technologies that people with disabilities depend on to help with daily living. Many with disabilities face waits of months, even years, for state financial assistance that can pay for housing, therapy and other tools for greater independence.

The large waiting lists and segregated facilities underscored the need for fundamenta reforms, possibly in the form of a single, comprehensive bill that would remove some long-standing barriers to integration, legislators and disability advocates said. While many reforms are possible through the state’s Olmstead Plan, getting those reforms pass will require bipartisan support.

One strategy under study is to send subsidies directly to individuals and their families, so they can obtain work and housing supports of their choosing, rather than to institutions such as sheltered workshops and group homes. Another is changes in reimbursement rates for disability employment programs. Rates could be adjusted to give sheltered-workshop operators more incentive to help their workers find jobs in the community, by compensating them more for job coaches and other community support. (Source: Star Tribune)




Mental health program for deaf, hard of hearing wins award

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) mental health program for people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing has received a prestigious statewide award for its work. The Gordon Allen Community Award from the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens was presented to the program on Oct. 16 at the organization’s 61st biennial conference in St. Cloud.

“We are proud this mental health team is being recognized for its expertise in providing linguistically accessible and culturally affirmative mental health services to Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing,” said Jennifer DeCubellis, DHS assistant commissioner for community supports. “These are critical services to support the wellness and independent functioning of individuals.”

The DHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Mental Health Program includes a statewide response team fluent in American Sign Language that helps deaf and hard of hearing adults get a range of mental health services within their community.  Mental health services for children, adolescents, families and adults who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing also are available through community organizations under contract with DHS. Child and adolescent mental health services are provided primarily in schools but also in homes and on an outpatient basis.



New leader for Lupus Foundation of Minnesota

Tharan Leopold has been hired as president of the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota. He succeeds Jennifer Monroe, who was president for the past seven years. Leopold was previously executive director of foundation and alumni for Dakota County Technical College.

“We are excited to have Tharan join us at the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota,” said Jason Price, chairman of the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota Board. “As we strengthen our mission, we are constantly striving to develop state-wide relationships with constituents impacted by lupus and donors who advance our efforts. We look forward to having him at the helm as we expand our reach and work.”

“I feel extremely honored to have been hired for this position,” said Leopold. “I thrive on challenges, and the work of this organization is a very worthwhile challenge—to realize a vision of a world that is free of lupus.”

Leopold brings a 20-year track record of fundraising and business expertise to the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota. Prior to his work at Dakota County Technical College, Leopold served as assistant director of advancement at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault. Before that, he was an account executive at KEYC-TV in Mankato.

Leopold earned his BS from Southwest Minnesota State University and an MA in Speech Communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Lupus is a disease where the immune system turns against parts of the body it is designed to protect. This leads to inflammation and can affect many different body systems, including joints, blood cells and organs. Difficult to diagnose, it can range from mild to life threatening in severity. Lupus can occur at any age. For more information, visit:



Recycle lights, cords with ProAct

ProAct workers are in the holiday recycling spirit.

ProAct workers are in the holiday recycling spirit.

Worn out holiday lights and cords shouldn’t go into the trash. Take them to any of the dozens of recycling bins across three counties south of the Twin Cities. Individuals from ProAct began gathering the lights and cords last month, and will properly recycle them. The annual recycling program helps the environment and provides work for people with disabilities.

People with disabilities process the cords and bulbs at ProAct’s Eagan and Red Wing facilities through January 2016. It’s an extension of the Recycling Association of Minnesota and its “Recycle Your Holidays” program. The locations served by ProAct are among more than 450 in the metro area. This year the locations served by ProAct include Inver Grove Heights.

The lights and cords will be individually disassembled by people with disabilities at ProAct’s Eagan and Red Wing facilities, said ProAct Production Coordinator Jennifer Cavalier. The collection locations aren’t able to accept cord adapters, battery packs, plastic rope lights or CFL lights.

“The program is a win-win-win,” said Maggie Mattacola, executive director of operations for the Recycling Association of Minnesota. The customers of local businesses have a free recycling option, valuable recyclables are kept out of the landfill and meaningful employment opportunities are provided for people with disabilities.

The program is in its sixth year. WCCO Television is a program partner.

Drop-off locations serviced by ProAct are offered in Dakota, Goodhue and Wabasha counties.



New service center opens

Hennepin County has opened its fifth regional human service center, this one located in downtown Minneapolis. The newest location, meant to serve residents who live and work in central and northeast Minneapolis, is in remodeled offices on the fifth and sixth floors of the Health Services Building, at 525 Portland Ave. That building is home to several other Human Services and Public Health Department programs.

Hennepin County programs serve about 14,500 people with disabilities, helping them live in their home communities.

“We want to make our services accessible to people in the communities where they live,” said Rex Holzemer, assistant county administrator for human services. “More convenience means people connect with services earlier and we can help them get back to self-sufficiency as quickly as possible.”

The new site is part of a larger plan to decentralize Hennepin County’s human services access from a concentration of offices in downtown Minneapolis, to six sites spread across the county and closer to where
residents live, work and attend school. With services in their neighborhoods, Hennepin County residents in need of economic benefits can integrate needed visits with their financial workers and other county staff into their daily routines. The Century Plaza building, at 12th Street and 3rd Avenue, formerly the county’s main human services office, will close in 2017 once all of the regional offices are established.

All of the regional sites offer free parking, easy access to mass transit, and childcare during their visits. For the new site, limited parking is available in the HCMC parking ramp. Enter on South 6th Street.

Four other regional human services offices already are open, in Brooklyn Center, Bloomington Hopkins and North Minneapolis. Earlier this month, the county celebrated the groundbreaking of a South Minneapolis human service center, which is expected to open in 2017.



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