People and Places – March 2010

Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota honors three Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota has announced its annual Participant of the Year award recipients. They are […]

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Joe Powell, Maple Grove; Paul VanderHeyden, St. Cloud; Will Atlas, Minneapolis (left to right)

Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota honors three

Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota has announced its annual Participant of the Year award recipients. They are Will Atlas of Minneapolis, Joe Powell of Maple Grove and Paul Vander-Heyden of St. Cloud. They will be honored at the Goodwill/Easter Seals’ annual Power of Work celebration on May 11.

The three honorees have all participated in Goodwill/Easter Seals’ employment programs, including skills training, transitional work and work experience programs.

Atlas was affected by the economic downturn when the company he worked for downsized. He was underemployed and found himself having to move in with family. He was referred by a friend to Goodwill/Easter Seals Automotive Skills Training program and after completing the training, landed a job with Jiffy Lube. He has been so successful that he has been promoted three times and now manages his own store in Eagan.

Vander-Heyden worked as a machinist but mental health issues eventually inhibited his ability to work. After being involved in Goodwill/Easter Seals’ employment support programs, he has learned mental health management strategies and communication skills. He has worked hard to incorporate these skills in his day to day life. VanderHeyden is now employed at Goodwill in St. Cloud and is on the path to independence because of his determination to make changes in his life.

Powell participated in Goodwill/Easter Seals’ transitional work program and forklift training after overcoming a number of barriers in his life. Today, he enjoys his full-time janitorial job with a benefits package, at Staging Concepts in Brooklyn Park. He has secured his own housing, and been able achieve a personal goal to transition off Social Security. Powell now aspires to own his own business someday.

These three award winners represent the hundreds of individuals who participate in Goodwill/Easter Seals programs each year. Tickets for the Power of Work Celebration go on sale April 1. For more information visit

Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota provides family strengthening, education, workforce development and employment services for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. In the past year, approximately 15,000 individuals received 31,192 services, including job skills training (automotive, banking/finance, construction and retail), job placement and free medical equipment loans. Revenues from its 20 retail stores, along with other contributions, support these services at 48 sites in Minnesota.


Fellows learn about government

The Capitol Fellowship Program is providing 11 young Minnesotans with disabilities the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to participate in the work performed at the Minnesota Legislature, and to gain valuable workplace experience. The program is sponsored by MN Works!, a statewide initiative to assist people with disabilities in obtaining meaningful employment, and Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato.

This new legislative internship program gives persons with disabilities the chance to participate in the work performed in the Minnesota Legislature. The program began in February. Sen. Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul, is working with the participants. “Individuals participating in the Capitol Fellowship Program will gain valuable workplace experiences,” Anderson said. “Dana Salmela, our intern, will be working with me on various legislative projects during the session.”

Each fellow will work one day a week at the Capitol on prepared projects, attend Senate meetings and participate in group projects with other fellows. “Through this opportunity, these young people will have a chance to work with legislators and learn first-hand how laws are made,” said Anderson. “I hope we will be able to continue this program into the future.”

Other host senators participating in the program are Senators Terri Bonoff, John Doll, Lisa Fobbe, Ken Kelash, John Marty, Steve Murphy, Mary Olson, Larry Pogemiller, Linda Scheid and David Tomassoni. The interns are Andrew Archer, St. Cloud; Paivy Ballayan and Richard Jensen of Minneapolis; Michael Kroll, White Bear Lake; Kari Sheldon and Kirt Dallman of St. Paul; Adam Menden, Mankato; Roberta Blomster, Vadnais Heights; Morgan Herried of Stillwater, and Adam Goldhammer of Burnsville.


Otto Bremer Foundation awards 58 grants

The Otto Bremer Foundation awarded 58 grants totaling $2,679,272.00 in January, 2010. Fifty grants totaling $2,316,093 support programs and organizations in Minnesota; 4 totaling $212,780, in North Dakota; and 3 totaling $150,400, in Wisconsin.

Created in 1944, the Otto Bremer Foundation assists people in achieving full economic, civic, and social participation in and for the betterment of their communities. The Foundation’s work to help build and maintain vibrant communities is based on the vision and legacy of Otto Bremer, whose commitment to Bremer Bank communities and to those working to make their lives better continues to guide the foundation.

The Otto Bremer Foundation owns the majority share of Bremer Bank, and a portion of the bank’s profits comes to the Foundation as dividends, enabling the Foundation to invest back in the bank communities in the form of grants and program-related investments.

Several organizations that serve persons with disabilities and senior citizens were awarded grants. These include:

• ARC Kandiyohi County $30,000, Willmar. To increase financial stability and increase volunteer participation for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

• Human Services Inc. in Washington County $10,000, Oakdale. To support the Meals on Wheels program, which serves seniors with disabilities.

• Knute Nelson $125,000. Alexandria. For senior-housing expansion and matching grant.

• The Mental Health Collective $25,000, Minneapolis. For general operating support for community mental health program that improves success for at-risk and immigrant youth and their families by providing affordable, accessible and culturally sensitive mental health services.

• Metro Meals on Wheels, Inc. $10,000, Minneapolis. For general operations of this organization that provides support services to home-delivered meal programs.

• Prairie Community Services, Inc. $35,000, Morris. To develop a mental health training curriculum for health workers and individuals.

• Western Mental Health Center, Inc. $20,000, Marshall. To support the One to One Transition program which serves seniors in Lyons, Lincoln, and Murray counties.

• Disability Rights Wisconsin $100,000, Madison, WI. To support systems change, long-term care and mental health services for children with disabilities in North Western Wisconsin.

• Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin $10,000, Eau Claire, WI. To provide health benefits counseling tovfinancially vulnerable people with epilepsy in Western Wisconsin.


Greater Twin Cities United Way commits to independence

Greater Twin Cities United Way is committing investments of $4.8 million to its independence goal over the next three years after completing an open and competitive grant process. This goal seeks to maximize independence for seniors and people with disabilities and helps them remain in their homes.

These investments in the independence goal support one of 10 goals that make up United Way’s Agenda for Lasting Change that works to create pathways out of poverty for low-incomefamilies in the Twin Cities area. To achieve United Way’s multi-year goal of maximizing independence, the new investments will be focused on programs that provide support to caregivers, assist families in accessing services, provide mental, physical and social activities, and provide in home and community support. These funds will support 43 programs, four of which are new to United Way.

United Way continues to maintain funding levels for seven of the goal areas to ensure the most critical community services are maintained. Those areas are: hunger, homelessness, financial stability, health prevention, health access, early learning, and reading by third grade. To minimize the impact of reduced resources on the community in this time of increasing needs, United Way has cut back its own operational budget by $1.5 million in 2009-2010, and in a first-time-ever action, the United Way Board approved the use of reserves to supplement 2010 investments by an additional $4 million.

“This is a difficult time for all nonprofits and the families we serve. United Way is doing what we can to assist our community and to provide some stable funding for programs that are aligned with our goals and help those with the greatest needs,” said Frank Forsberg, senior vice president of Community Impact, United Way.

United Way receives more requests from programs than resources available and therefore makes decisions that reflect its desire to support those programs best aligned with its specific and measurable goals outlined in its agenda, achieve the best return on investment through program effectiveness, provide a diverse balance of services through the region and advance systemic solutions while providing effective, measurable impact on its target populations.


Cookie Share for Meals on Wheels

For the first time in cookie history, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys is partnering with Metro Meals on Wheels and M&I Bank to collect 10,000 packages of cookies for Meals on Wheels recipients in the Twin Cities metro area. M&I Bank , will host Girl Scout Cookie Booths at its 29 locations Fridays and Saturdays through March from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon.

The Girl Scouts Cookie Care & Share program offers opportunities for the community to do more with their cookie purchases. As part of the larger Cookie Care & Share program, the Cookie Share for Meals on Wheels activity helps cookie customers have a direct, positive impact on their local communities. Customers at M&I Bank Cookie Booth locations can purchase cookies for themselves and purchase cookies that will be donated directly to Metro Meals on Wheels. The cookies will then be sent as a special treat for Meals on Wheels recipients along with their regular meal deliveries.

The partnership highlights National Meals on Wheels Month as well as the 98th anniversary of Girl Scouts. National Meals on Wheels Month aims to raise awareness of Meals on Wheels programs which, in the Twin Cities, deliver more than 1.1 million meals each year with the help of 14,000 volunteers.

Promoters appeared on KARE11’s Showcase Minnesota, KDWB’s Dave Ryan in the Morning and Twin Cities Insight radio show to promote the event. To find M&I Bank locations and help Girl Scouts throughout the area reach their 10,000 packages goal, go online to www.mibank.comcookies.

Metro Meals on Wheels is the association of 40 organizations with Meals on Wheels programs in 45 sites located throughout the Twin Cities metro area. Along with its program partners, Metro leads the effort to ensure that individuals in our community receive nutritious meals and the human connection they need to enable them to live independently. Metro does this through advocacy efforts, volunteer recruitment, resource development, and technical and professional support. Visit


New care option for those with brain injuries

More than 4,000 people statewide are hospitalized each year because of brain injury, but there are few options for comprehensive care. To help meet this gap in service, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is opening the second of three transitional services in Minnesota this month in Golden Valley for people with brain injuries. The first service opened in Moorhead in October 2008.

Transitional homes, staffed by brain injury support specialists and certified nursing assistants, will offer round-the-clock care for up to two years. Brain injury support specialists will coordinate plans of support that will include physical, speech and occupational therapy, mental health services, job training, memory care, and neurology services. The duplex-style home will accommodate two individuals on each side and include adaptive equipment, individual bedrooms and accessible bathing facilities.

“Our goal is to help people with brain injury return to life in the community as quickly as possible,” said Nancy Rosemore, senior director for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. “We know that the first two years following a brain injury are the most critical, the time when the best progress can be made. That is where we want to make a significant difference in the lives of people with brain injuries.”

Rosemore said that individuals who have severe brain injuries most often transition to a nursing home. While most nursing homes can assist with physical needs, usually they are oriented toward the needs of seniors. Many are unable to address other therapeutic needs and may not be the ideal setting for younger patients.

“We will be helping people adjust to their new situation and re-learn daily living skills, such as cooking and doing laundry as well as learning adaptive behavior that will assist them live in the community,” Rosemore said. “There can be a full and inclusive life in the community after a brain injury and we plan to make that happen for the people who will use this new service.”

The idea for a transitional care option evolved out of focusgroups organized byLutheran Social Service, which already serves families whohave loved ones with a brain injury who are living in a longer term community home. Individualized services through the new transitions program in Golden Valley will be paid through private pay, worker’s compensation or private insurance and state waivers.

Rosemore said that the community has been very supportive. Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley has already donated funds to help furnish the new home and plans to build raised gardens so that people in wheelchairs can get outside and enjoy working at a hobby. Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing. Today, Lutheran Social Service helps 100,000 Minnesotans each year live and work in community with safety, dignity and hope. More information can be found by visiting the organization’s website at

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