People and Places – January 2017

Seven programs honored for excellence in human services Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Emily Piper recently honored seven […]

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Seven programs honored for excellence in human services

Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Emily Piper recently honored seven programs from across the state for outstanding contributions to human services clients. Recipients of the 2016 Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards were recognized at a ceremony at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building in St. Paul. The winners include two programs serving people with disabilities.

Piper said winners in the sixth annual Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards exemplify the great human services work happening across Minnesota to support healthy people, stable families and strong communities.

“The work we do in human services has real, tangible impacts on the lives of Minnesotans,” Piper said. “These organizations have gone above and beyond to make a difference for some of the most vulnerable among us.”

Two of the winners serve people with disabilities. The Arts Center of St. Peter, a community arts organization in St. Peter, helped aid patient recovery, reduce stigma of mental illness and strengthen community connections with “Changing Minds: Work by Patients at St. Peter Regional Treatment Center.” The first-of-its-kind public exhibition in May 2016 featured more than 200 works of art, many created in classes hosted by Arts Center of St. Peter instructors in partnership with DHS staff. The exhibition coincided with the 150th anniversary of Minnesota Security Hospital, and included both a public reception and a private event at the gallery for patients and staff.

The School-Linked Mental Health Partnership was also honored. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Human Services Division and Carlton County Public Health and Human Services formed a unique partnership to provide school-linked mental health therapy services for American Indian and Carlton County children. Through
the use of therapists from Fond du Lac Behavioral Health and Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, youth in four Carlton County school districts and the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School have increased access to mental health therapy in their school settings. Working with school districts, the partnership improved coordination and planning around student mental health issues, leading to improved educational success.

Two award winners are responses to the opioid epidemic. White Earth Maternal Outreach and Mitigation Services or MOMS Program is an innovative and effective response to the opioid epidemic impacting pregnant Native mothers and their babies on the White Earth Nation that includes a culturally-specific holistic treatment program. Morrison County Accountable Community for Health is a partnership that delivers patient-centered care for individuals taking multiple prescription opioids and a community prescription drug task force focused on improving communication and collaboration.

Three other programs were also honored. Korean Service Center is a community-based social service organization that helps non-English speaking Korean older adults in the Twin Cities stay healthy and age in place with a medical transportation and escort program, as well as other long-term care services.

Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, a non-profit located in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, provides a variety of opportunities for holistic healing and self-empowerment of Native American families. The Food Group (formerly Emergency Foodshelf Network) is a non-profit that fights hunger in partnership with more than 240 food shelves and hunger relief partners across 21 counties. Last year, The Food Group distributed 6.2 million pounds of food, including 1.4 million pounds of fresh produce, to more than 5 million individuals.

Watch videos about the 2016 Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award recipients at


Longtime self-advocate weds

caryn-diercks-and-larry-lubbersNewlyweds Caryn Diercks and Larry Lubbers celebrated their marriage with family and friends at Mancini’s Char House in November, with toasts, stories, gifts and fellowship. The couple looks forward to enjoying their new life together.

Lubbers is a longtime Advocating Change Together (ACT) board member, motivational speaker and self-advocacy leader. He has traveled around the world through his work with ACT, focusing on the rights of people with disabilities. A key part of his message is to get “all of our brothers and sisters” with developmental disabilities out of institutions.

Lubbers has been interviewed about his work by the Star Tribune and Twin Cities Public Television. A former resident of the state institution at Faribault, Lubbers was one of the leaders in getting numbered headstones there replaced with headstones bearing the names of deceased residents, through the Remembering With Dignity project.



Spiritual Gait book release

In his first book-length publication, Spiritual Gait, poet Steven J. Jacobson strives to illuminate the glory of God the creator by examining and rejoicing the many wonders of nature, including our physical surroundings—the sky, the earth, a river—as well as the delight of children and other aspects of being human. His compositions feature both language and concepts that are at once accessible to all and inspirational.

The Hopkins resident is a lifelong Midwesterner. Jacobson lives with a form of schizo-affective disorder, but continues enjoying life and pursuing a wide range of interests.

Jacobson’s work has been published in Access Press. His work has also appeared in about two dozen poetry and literary magazines including Linnet’s Wings, Burningword Literary Journal, Eunoia Review, Little Red Tree Publishing, Indiana Voice Journal, Leaves of Ink, Aphelion, Thought Notebook and Storyteller Magazine.

He is a featured poet in metric conversions: poetry of our time (Editura StudIS, 2013) a compilation of poetry described by author and translator Taner Murat as an act of “intercultural exchange.” An e-book, Spiritual Gait was recently published in June 2016 by Storyteller Magazine and a second book is pending in paperback and will be published in early 2017 called Spiritual Realm.

Spiritual Gait has won praise from reviewers. “Most poetry collections are fairly dense and inaccessible, which tend to regulate the entire literary genre to an audience of college-educated followers and specialty readers,” said Diane Donovan, senior book reviewer for the Mid-West Book Review. “Not so Spiritual Gait, a collection of simple free verse writings about daily occurrences, relationships with God, soul rebirth and more. It is a celebration that is decidedly religious in tone. Readers with affection for spiritual sentiments will find it a prerequisite to appreciating works that center upon creation, joy, and life’s little facets … Whether it’s observations of nature or observations of children, Spiritual Gait is an accessible, simple collection recommended for spiritual readers who seek light, simple, and joyful observational pieces.”

Learn more about the author and his work at

The eBook can be purchased through Mockingbird Lane Press, at or The ISBN is 978-1-94556306-5

Area bookstores that carry the paperback version of the book are Boneshaker Books, 2002 23rd Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-871-7110; Magers & Quinn Bookstore, 3038 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-822-4611; Eat My Words Bookstore, 1228 2nd St. N.E., Minneapolis, 651-243-1756 and Subtext Bookstore, 6th W. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-493-2791.




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