People and Places – June 2013

Name change for longtime job service organization Midway Training Services is now Ally People Solutions. The name changed was announced […]

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Name change for longtime job service organization

Midway Training Services is now Ally People Solutions.

The name changed was announced in May. The new name is seen as more reflective of the nonprofit organization’s mission and services. Ally People Solutions is based in St. Paul. It was started in 1965 by parents who wanted to provide more opportunities for their children. Ally serves persons with intellectual disabilities, mental health conditions and their loved ones with employment and life skills services so each consumer can live the full, productive life that he or she desires. The organization is serving more than 270 clients, providing them with a variety of opportunities.

Ally will retain the same addresses and phone numbers, and is making a transition with its electronic media.



Cummins feted for helping Courage Center with equipment

Cummins Power Generation was recognized for hard work and dedication to the Assistive Technology Program at Courage Center, at the Corporate Volunteerism Council Awards Luncheon this spring. Cummins won the Minnesota Employee Engagement Award.

The luncheon, held at the Golden Valley Country Club, is a thank you for the many hours of work donated by Cummins engineers and other staff. Cummins has been a Courage Center corporate volunteer involvement unit and have been a vital resource to clientele as they perform many tasks including fixing broken equipment, developing one-of-a-kind devices, and adapting devices and equipment.

The Twin Cities Corporate Giving Garden Network won the Innovation Award. This group of corporations grows and shares produce on a number of Twin Cities corporate campuses.

Disability Viewpoints is honored again

Disability Viewpoints’ host Mark Hughes is part of a team that won another Hometown Media award. Photos courtesy of CTV

Disability Viewpoints has won yet another 2013 Hometown Media Award in the Access-Able Professional category. The award was presented May 30 at the Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference in San Francisco. Disability Viewpoints also received Hometown Media Awards in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2005.

The Hometown Media Awards honor and promote community media and local cable programs that are first distributed on public, educational, and governmental public access cable television channels.

Awards are presented to creative programs that address community needs, develop diverse community involvement, challenge conventional commercial television formats and move viewers to experiences television in a different way.

Mark Hughes is the host of Disability Viewpoints, a show that is taped every month at CTV’s Roseville studio. It highlights local disabled-friendly businesses, services for the disabled and efforts on behalf of the disabled. Guests have included elected officials, entertainers, athletes and advocates for the disabled.

Hughes has won other recognition for his work, including the Rainbow of Hope Award from the Shiners’ in 2005. This award recognized Hughes for his ability to overcome physical limitations and to become a role model within the disabled community.

He was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

She found satisfaction through work

The Music Connection said farewell to longtime employee Mary, center. At left is shop owner Charlie and at right is

East Suburban Resources, Inc. is honoring Mary, who recently retired after working at Music Connection in Forest Lake. Mary worked at the music store for 15 years. It was her only community job placement during her tenure at the nonprofit employment agency.

Mary’s job coach, Shannon, worked with Mary and helped her with job training. Mary was able to learn and do a number of tasks as part of her work, although she noted that her favorite job was dusting. She also enjoyed working with her friend and coworker Mike, whom she is pictured with.

In retirement, Mary would like to enjoy more recreational activities, go on community outings and spend more time with friends.

East Suburban Resources is a private, nonprofit agency that promotes employment for adults with developmental disabilities and unique support needs by removing barriers to jobs, providing ongoing support and focusing on community integration. It has been located in Washington County since 1964 and has program centers in Cottage Grove, Forest Lake, Oakdale and Stillwater. It serves more than 350 individuals with disabilities.

Community integration is a key focus at East Suburban Resources. Job coaches and other staff work to dispel misconceptions about individuals with disabilities while helping them to be productive members of their community, be more confident and independent, to learn life and work skills, and to earn an income.

Consumers have several employment options available. They may choose an independent job in the community, placement on a crew that works under the supervision of a job coach, or participation in contract work that is completed at the agency’s program sites.

East Suburban Resources partners with more than 200 businesses and civic organizations in the east metro area, and is fully licensed and accredited.



Metro arts groups receive Accessibility Grants

Three Minneapolis arts organizations recently were awarded project grants to make their arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities. The latest ADA Access Improvement Grant recipients include Interact Center for Visual/Performing Arts, $15,000; Mixed Precipitation, $15,000 and Young Dance, $3,744.

Young Dance will bring Dwayne Schueneman, founder of REVolutions Dance and a professional dancer who uses a wheelchair, to Minneapolis for a week of workshops. The week will culminate in free public performances by the workshop participants and Schueneman.

Mixed Precipitation seeks support for relationship-building through the Access Advisory Panel, to attend a conference, to provide expanded access services, to reduce physical barriers in key sites by renting bathroom facilities and undertaking capital improvements, and to bring a production directly to a facility serving people with disabilities.

Interact Center for Visual & Performing Arts will use its grant for its Dis/Cover the Arts Program. This effort expands the capacity of Interact Center for Visual & Performing Arts to grow audiences of people with disabilities by removing barriers, better fulfilling its mission to create art that challenges perceptions of disability.

Funding for the ADA Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations is from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The purpose is to enable nonprofit arts organizations in the seven-county Twin Cities area to improve their programs, projects, equipment, or facilities in ways that have the potential for significant or long-term impact in involving more people with disabilities as participants or patrons in arts programs. VSA Minnesota administers the grant program for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

Fifty-five projects have been funded by this grant program since 2010, totaling $636,729. Grants up to $15,000 are available.

The grants were reviewed and ranked by a panel of persons active in the metro arts and disability community. Panelists were Leah Cooper, Paul Deeming, P.J. Doyle, Jo Ann Erbes, Connie Fullmer and Cindy Tarshish. The panelists brought a wide range of arts and community experience.


Local newspaper readers mark 20 years

Radio Talking Book listeners and volunteers in northern Minnesota have something to celebrate. This spring volunteers and listeners in Fergus Falls marked the 20th anniversary of the reading of local newspapers with a luncheon. The event included entertainment, speeches, certificates of appreciation, and cake.

The establishment of reading of local newspapers in that area, in 1993, was a project of the local Lions Clubs. The Lions have continued to be the primary support and organizers of the local reading there. Fergus Falls was the first area of Minnesota to have the reading of local newspapers via Radio Talking Book.

Once per day, local volunteers break into the radio’s signal to read the papers from that area. This now happens in Fergus Falls, Saint Cloud, Rochester, Mankato, Duluth, and Grand Rapids.


Monticello resident is honored

The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) recognized Carla Colvin, an employee of nonprofit Opportunity Partners, as the 2013 Direct Support Professional Award Winner for the state of Minnesota. She received her award in Washington, D.C. this spring at the ANCOR conference.

Colvin is a resident of Monticello and works at Opportunity Partners in Coon Rapids. She is a strong advocate for the people with disabilities she supports and consistently goes above and beyond to help create positive change in the individuals she works with.

“We at Opportunity Partners are incredibly proud of Carla. The award shows the dedication she has to support people with disabilities and reflects the quality of services provided by Opportunity Partners,” said George Klauser, Opportunity Partners’ President and CEO.

Colvin said she developed a compassion for people with disabilities when as a child riding the school bus she saw other children treating kids with special needs as “different.” Years later, she left a job in the insurance industry to follow her passion to care for people and has now worked in the field for 15 years. Colvin goes the extra mile to customize her care to meet the unique needs of each individual.

“What works for one does not work for all. If you take the time to get to know what motivates the people you serve it makes for some pretty amazing accomplishments. I make it a point to teach the people I serve that a person’s disability is not their identity, that we are all intentionally flawed to make us unique and that everyone has value,” said Colvin.




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