People and Places – October 2014

Campers with disabilities experience True Friends Combining two legacy organizations has not only revitalized camping fun, but increased the amount […]

Generic Article graphic with Access Press logo

Campers with disabilities experience True Friends

True FriendsCombining two legacy organizations has not only revitalized camping fun, but increased the amount of life-changing experiences available for campers with disabilities this summer. Camp Courage and Camp Friendship, along with three other Minnesota camps, now operate as True Friends. In their first summer season, True Friends welcomed has 1,841 campers, 301 volunteers and 253 seasonal staff members.

Senior Director of Camping, Chet Tschetter said camper numbers were up for the organization. “It’s been great summer, in fact, we served about 100 more campers than last year,” Tschetter said. “Nice weather and an exceptional summer crew made our first summer as True Friends really outstanding.”

The summer campers are only a portion of the nearly 4,000 children and adults with disabilities served each year by the organization. More than 200 sessions are offered, not only during summer camp, but winter camp, respite, travel, team building, horse riding and many other programs.

Classic summer camp activities including boating, tubing, swimming and recreation activities were modified to meet a wide range of ability levels. True Friends programming like the True Strides horse program, enVISION career sessions and Team Quest ropes and climbing courses to deliver the fun experiences campers of all abilities are looking for.

“I’ve never been surrounded by so many amazing people. This summer taught me so much and has given me memories that I will remember forever,” said Maria Schmidt, the nature leader at Camp Friendship.

As the seasons change, so do the opportunities to experience camp year round with Fall Family Camp at Camp Courage, respite weekends at Camp Friendship and Camp Eden Wood and winter camp at Camp Friendship and Camp Courage. Camp locations include Camp Courage near Maple Lake, Camp Friendship in Annandale, Camp Eden Wood in Eden Prairie, Camp New Hope near McGregor and Camp Courage North near Lake George. For more information visit or call 952-852-0101.




Gillette wins grant

Gillette Care CoordinationGillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare was awarded a three-year, $480,000 grant by the Minnesota Department of Health to identify and test models of pediatric care coordination. Gillette is the grant’s only recipient.

The term, “care coordination” is a concept that involves delivering the right care and services at the right time to people who have complex medical needs. Gillette’s work will involve helping the Minnesota Department of Health define what that term means in relation to children who have complex medical needs whose care is being coordinated across multiple organizations.

“Care coordination is a hot topic in health care right now, but the term is under-defined and often misused,” said Holly Bronson, manager of Gillette’s statewide clinics. “This is especially true for care coordination between primary care and specialty care providers for children who have complex medical needs.”

Gillette will partner with four primary care clinics across Minnesota: Mankato Clinic; Sanford Bemidji Clinic; Fairview Range – Hibbing Clinic; and HealthEast Roselawn Clinic in St. Paul. These clinics represent certified medical homes and noncertified medical homes in urban and rural areas. Gillette will evaluate the effectiveness of various models of care coordination to discover how specialty care providers can best communicate, coordinate, and integrate care with its primary care partners. Once the results are in, Gillette will work with the Minnesota Department of Health to disseminate the findings across the state.




Lacey honored for service

June LaceyA longtime disability community volunteer was honored for 77 years’ service to the Minnesota State Fair. June Delores Lynne Lacey of Fergus Falls was given a plaque during the fair. Lacey does volunteer work despite dealing with lifelong disabilities. Severe arthritis, scoliosis, heart issues, loss of vision and a seizure disorder caused by a head injury don’t slow her down.

Lacey is well-known for a long list of volunteer activities, often participating with her daughter Joyce Lacey. June Lacey first began giving her time and talents to the fair in 1937, as she and her family would help in the education booth. Over the years, her volunteer fair tasks have involved driving Girl Scouts and 4-H winners to their respective locations, helping at the wheelchair drop-off site, and assisting at both the American Cancer Society and Arthritis Foundation booths.

Outside of the fair, Lacey co-founded Project Bear Hugs, which provides stuffed animals to nursing homes, children’s and veterans’ hospitals, shelters and disaster scenes. She has been a leader with the Midwest Walk and Roll for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. She volunteers with the MS Walk, 150 Bike Ride, MS Tram, MS Root Beer Float Days, Community MS Booths, 30/60 MS Bike Ride and Challenge Walk. She served on the steering committee for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure. Her other cancer-related volunteer work includes American Cancer Association Relay for Life, Golf for the Cure, Bike for the Cure and Shop for the Cure. She also helps with the Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon. She serves meals at the Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission, and helps with the annual Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas gifts. She is a Salvation Army bell ringer and knits scarves for the homeless.

In 2013 this busy volunteer even found time to enter her very own craft work in Creative Activities competition. She looks forward to continuing her tradition of volunteering at the fair each and every year.




Listen for new voice in the morning

Mark Vidas retired in September, after working for the Radio Talking Book since 1987. His voice was familiar as Vidas had worked as the evening broadcaster, the program coordinator, and for the last several years was the Monday through Friday morning broadcaster.

Until the new a.m. broadcaster was chosen, Radio Talking Book used a combination of other broadcasting staff, part-time and fill-in. On September 29, Michael LaFleur began as the new a.m. broadcaster, moving from his position as weekend evening broadcaster.

The evening spot will now be filled by Brad Bronk. Vidas intends to continue with the Radio Talking Book as a volunteer, so listeners will still be hearing his voice on some of the weekly programming.



The Arc agencies win grant

The Arc Greater Twin Cities, The Arc Southeastern Minnesota and The Arc Midstate have received a MNsure Outreach and Enrollment Grant in the amount of $164,843.

“Private and public health care is a critical service for children and adults with disabilities, and can be a very complex system to access. Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have struggled to get the health care they need,” said Steve Piekarski, The Arc Greater Twin Cities’ chief program officer. “Disability, cultural barriers and income level all lead to disparities in health care coverage. With this grant, we will create and deliver community outreach tools and resources that help individuals with disabilities and their families understand MNsure and remove access barriers to gaining health care. It is a great opportunity to help more Minnesotans with disabilities get affordable, comprehensive health care coverage.”

The Arc will partner with MNsure to reach and enroll uninsured and underinsured Minnesotans, particularly within those communities where health disparities exist. The Arc has a history of connecting with people with disabilities and their families, and will act as a resource about the state health insurance marketplace while encouraging enrollment for individuals and families in need of coverage.

MNsure has engaged a diverse range of organizations to promote enrollment through the marketplace and is issuing nearly $4.6 million in grants targeted to fund outreach and enrollment efforts from Sept. 1, 2014 until June 30, 2015. Goals for the MNsure grant program include assisting populations with barriers to coverage, building regional navigator resource and referral networks and educating uninsured Minnesotans about the importance of health insurance and how they can enroll through MNsure.

Since the launch of MNsure, 311,432 Minnesotans have enrolled and the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by 40.6% to a record low. Open enrollment for 2015 coverage begins November 15, 2014. To request more information or set up an appointment with The Arc Greater Twin Cities, click “Ask An Advocate” at or call (952) 920-0855.

To contact MNsure directly, call the MNsure Contact Center at 1-855-366-7873 or visit



  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself, & others from the COVID-19 virus."
  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself & others from the COVID-19 virus."

Mental Wellness