It’s back to work, school in St. Cloud
Going back to school takes on a different meaning for one Opportunity Services crew. For the work team at St. Cloud State University (SCSU), it means back to business in the dish room.
Opportunity Services is a nonprofit organization helping adults with disabilities to find employment, and Sodexo is a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and foodservice operations and campus dining provider to SCSU. They have been collaborating for almost 10 years.
When Sodexo took over the services at SCSU in July 2006, an Opportunity Services work team was only working at lunchtime. Within two years, Opportunity Services had expanded to two work teams at two different locations within the campus; Garvey Commons and Atwood Memorial Center. Over time, the Opportunity Services clients have become part an integral part of the team at Sodexo. The work team maintains the dish rooms in Garvey Commons and Atwood Memorial Center all day during the school year and limited hours in the summer.
“The university students didn’t enjoy working in the dish room, and we couldn’t keep re-hiring those positions,” said SCSU Resident Dining Manager Tim Ness. “Opportunity Services provided a work crew that wanted to be there every day and was passionate about their responsibilities.”
Every member of the team has a specific responsibility, whether it’s controlling a part of the dish line, putting out clean silverware or collecting dirty dishes. “To the Opportunity Services crew it’s more than making money and supporting themselves, they have a sense of belonging here at Sodexo and they truly are a part of the team,” said Ness.
Sodexo serves three quarters of a million meals during the school year. Roughly that’s about 20,000 meals per week, with all the dishes going through the dish rooms maintained by Opportunity Services. The dish room crew also works at summer events.
Opportunity Services prides itself in community integration. The collaboration with Sodexo is a perfect example of just that. The work team not only maintains the dish room, members get to know other staff members and students at the university. They look forward to coming to work every day because they find pride in their job and enjoy being members of the St. Cloud community.
Community long-term services and supports programs win grants
Organizations that help older Minnesotans stay in their homes as they age are receiving more than $5.3 million in funds. The funds were appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton, and awarded by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).
Projects funded through the department’s Community Service/Community Services Development Grants provide indoor and outdoor chore services, adult day services, grocery delivery, home repairs, alternative housing, support for informal caregivers and other services that allow older Minnesotans to remain in their homes rather than move to nursing homes or other more expensive settings.
“Efforts like these by many Minnesotans, including these grantees, are among reasons Minnesota has ranked No. 1 for two consecutive years on the national AARP scorecard for long-term services and supports for older adults and people with disabilities,” said DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “Minnesotans are committed and creative in providing core community services to help people stay in their homes as they age. These include supports for family members and friends, who provide most of the care for older adults.”
Jesson announced the grants while helping deliver groceries in Anoka with Store To Door, a Roseville-based nonprofit that provides grocery shopping and delivery for homebound older adults in the Twin Cities metro area. Store To Door received a grant last year to help bring more food to low-income seniors. The nonprofit’s work has included expanding a food shelf delivery service to new areas in Ramsey and Anoka counties, and providing information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.
“These grants provide low-cost, high-impact supports that make a big difference in older Minnesotans’ lives,” Jesson said. “For someone who wants to stay in their home but can’t shop on their own, not only does grocery delivery put nutritious foods directly in their hands, it also helps them remain healthy, as hungry seniors are twice as likely to report fair or poor general health.”
Projects receiving grants in state fiscal year 2015:
• Northwoods Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, received $151,677 to provide geriatric case management, caregiver support, companion services and expand other services for American Indians who want to remain in their own homes and their caregivers in Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Koochiching counties.
• CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio), received $125,500 to fund a culturally and linguistically specific Adult Day Program providing respite care to Latino elders and caregivers in Dakota and Ramsey counties in partnership with other community organizations.
• DARTS, received $126,874 to expand outdoor chore services for older adults in Dakota County and to update outdoor program equipment.
• Faith in Action for Cass County, received $97,936 to strengthen its services including transportation, meal delivery, and home repair including installing grab bars, railings and accessibility ramps for older adults in Cass County’s rural areas.
• NextDoor Inc. received two grants totaling $342,403 to pilot an accessory dwelling unit in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that will provide temporary, affordable housing as an alternative to keep older adults independent in their communities while close to family and friends who can help them.
• Sustainable Resources Center, Inc. received $252,000 to improve 120 suburban Hennepin County homes to help create safer and healthier home environments for aging occupants.
• Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, Minneapolis, received $31,756 to provide comprehensive accessibility services to six homeowners.
• ACE of Southwest Minnesota, received $50,000 for evidence-based health promotion programs including memory care consultant services in Lincoln, Lyon, Nobles and Redwood counties.
• Lakewood Health System, Staples, received $330,609 to expand its dementia health care home.
• Great River Area Faith in Action, received $262,450 to expand its service area and volunteer network in Benton, Mille Lacs, Sherburne, Stearns and Wright counties, increase capacity by partnering with parish nurses, and pilot a transitional care model with a long-term care facility.
• Assumption Community Services, on behalf of the Rural Stearns Live Well at Home Coalition, received $110,369 to help with care transitions between health care and home and community-based providers in southwestern Stearns County.
• CommonBond Communities, St. Paul, received $249,927 to enhance and sustain its Twin Cities wellness and health promotion programs, which include evidence-based classes on falls prevention, chronic disease self-management and physical activity.
• Senior Community Services, received $52,601 is expanding its Household and Outside Maintenance for the Elderly HOME program to 11 unserved communities adjacent to its current west metro suburban service area. New communities to be served are Woodland, Deephaven, Excelsior, Shorewood, Tonka Bay, Minnetonka Beach, Orono, Long Lake, Spring Park, Mound and Greenwood.
• ElderCircle, Grand Rapids, received $219,895 for its joint venture with the City of Grand Rapids, Itasca County Family YMCA, Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital to expand the local YMCA and enhance it with an active living center catering to retirees, the aging population and caregivers.
• Dellwood Gardens, St. Paul, received $255,000 to develop wheelchair-accessible gardens and exercise programs that incorporate gardening, balance and strength conditioning; to create an interior gardening room and make other improvements for elders of different cultural and economic backgrounds in St. Paul’s East Side neighborhood.
• Washington County HRA, received $162,100 to implement a falls prevention strategy to help older adults in HRA-owned affordable rental housing live independently and safely.
• Community Memorial Home, Osakis, received $162,661 to purchase exercise equipment and develop and implement programs such as Tai Chi as part of moving from reliance on the traditional medical model of care to one better balanced with empowering wellness and prevention opportunities.
• Perham Living, received $170,072 to develop adult day services in Otter Tail, Becker, Hubbard and Wadena counties.
• Volunteer Services of Carlton County, received $260,674 for its Communities Called to Care volunteer- based program focusing on delivery of chore, transportation, homemaker, caregiver respite and caregiver counseling services.
• Lakes Area Interfaith Caregivers, received $99,999 for its volunteer-based services in Crow Wing County, which include transportation, chore services, companion visits, ramp building and grab bar installation.
• Waseca Area Neighborhood Service Center, received $70,560 to develop a volunteer in-home respite service, education on senior nutrition, self-management of chronic diseases, caregiver self-care and care and fall prevention for older adults and caregivers in Waseca County.
• Horizon Health Faith in Action, received $66,700 to provide core home- and community-based services across Morrison County.
• West Central Minnesota Communities Action, received $199,879 to work with partners to provide grocery and prescription delivery as well as transportation and other services for older adults in Traverse, Douglas, Stevens, Grant and Pope counties.
• Faith In Action In Red Wing received $24,582 to provide transportation; help with shopping, reading and bill paying; minor home repairs; friendly visits; and respite care for family caregivers..
• St. Olaf Community Center, Minneapolis, received $255,000 to repurpose space for a North Minneapolis community center with exercise equipment, a library and other resources for older adults.
• VINE Faith in Action, Mankato received two grants totaling $498,355 for evidence-based health and wellness programs, a warm water exercise pool and locker rooms at its Adult Community Center.
• Adult Day Services, Inc. received $255,000 to expand its adult day services in Bemidji.
• Whitney Senior Center, St. Cloud, received $184,931 to partner with satellite sites in rural areas of Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties to provide health, fitness and consumer protection courses using evidence-based health promotion programming.
• Center for Active Living, Worthington, received $70,261 to expand its health and wellness programs and to provide instruction in how to use a computer, Skype, the internet and social media.
• Minnesota Network of Hospice & Palliative Care, received $179,262 to collaborate with Minnesota’s Area Agencies on Aging to provide end-of- life care resources, including culturally appropriate information on advance care planning, palliative care, hospice and veterans’ end-of-life benefits, to home- and community-based service providers statewide.
More information about the grants is available on the DHS website.
Harding’s Hope grants $83,000 to MS Society Upper Midwest Chapter Programs
Harding’s Hope announced that it will give the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Upper Midwest Chapter $83,000 to help fund direct financial assistance programs for families affected by MS.
Harding’s Hope is a nonprofit founded by Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding. It raises awareness and funds to support people living with MS. The four society programs chosen for funding include chore services, care partner relief, exercise and wellness and for daily living. All of the programs are designed to help people with MS stay strong, independent and remain in their homes and communities.
“This generous donation will make a tremendous impact in the lives of families struggling to cope with the financial burden of this lifelong disease,” said National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter President Holly Anderson. “We extend our deepest gratitude to Harding’s Hope for their dedication to helping people with MS live their best lives.”
MS Society members posted pictures and videos with the hashtag #thankyouhardingshope on social media to show appreciation for the grant.
Behavioral clinic has expanded
Aris Clinic, which serves clients from Hennepin, Washington, Dakota, Ramsey and Anoka counties, hosted an open house in October to unveil its expanded advanced treatment facility serving children and teens struggling with emotional and behavioral health issues. The clinic is at 7616 Currell Blvd., Suite 100, Woodbury.
“Expanding our clinic is a big step toward addressing the significant lack of mental health services currently available for children and teens in the Twin Cities, specifically the East Metro,” said Dr. Shalene Kennedy, clinic founder. “Aris provides outpatient clinic psychiatric services, as well as an intensive outpatient program; all are designed to help patients transition back to healthy, stable and productive lives in their homes and schools. “Our goal is to be the ‘last stop’ for kids and teens. We not only address their problems but provide clear diagnostic clarification and comprehensive care following discharge.”
Aris Clinic opened in 2011 as a private mental health facility offering services for patients from age 5 to 18 in a caring, private environment of professionals. The Aris team provides medication management; individual, group and family therapy; educational and psychological testing; case management, and school assistance services.
Braun wins Junior Athlete of the Year title
Mark Braun’s life story has taken him from a trash can in an alley in Jamaica to Minnesota and a successful athletic career and many accomplishments as a volunteer. In October Sports n’ Spokes magazine honored Braun with its Junior Athlete of the Year title.
Braun’s birth mother left him in a trash can when she was no longer able to care for him. A police officer heard the boy’s cries. He wound up in an orphanage.
“He’s a child that we could see even from the first moment that we met him that he was inspirational, determined,” Mark’s mom, Claire Braun, told the magazine. “You know, as you look at each thing he accomplishes and each thing he participates in, he grows. And you know, as parents when you look at a child … you want your children to have the best chance for a future, and in Mark’s case that certainly was true right from the beginning.”
Born with spina bifida, Braun spent the first five years of his life crawling around on his hands. His desire to help his peers goes back to his days in the orphanage. He remembers two things from his childhood there: being hungry and never having a toy. This has prompted him to make return trips to Jamaica and the orphanage. Once he and the Make-A-Wish Foundation threw a celebration of life party for the children there.
On another trip he advocated for children to be freed for adoption and sent to the United States for proper medical care. Braun met with the Jamaican prime minister to assist the children.
Braun’s accomplishments in the last year — 2014 national wheelchair basketball champion, gold and silver medalist at the 2014 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Junior Games on Team USA, first place in his class for every individual track event entered at the 2014 National Junior Disability Championships — just scratch the surface of all he’s done throughout his career.
He is also a three-time national wheelchair basketball champion, wheelchair basketball world gold medalist, one of six pioneer athletes to participate in high school track and field in Minnesota’s first wheelchair division and IWAS World Junior Games competitor on Team USA two years running.
When Braun was seven years old, he went to Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and was exposed to a wide variety of wheelchair sports, including floor hockey, soccer, softball, sled hockey, downhill skiing, archery, basketball and track and field.
Braun first pursued basketball but soon found that he had the most passion for track and field. Increased training brought positive results, record-breaking times and invitations to compete around the world “I started coaching him when he was a little boy and right away we saw that he had talent and he was a hard worker on the track always,” said Paul Van Winkel, Braun’s coach.
Braun is also dedicated to helping others, at international competitions and at his high school, Irondale. Braun recently coached another wheelchair athlete at the New Brighton school. He also serves as vice president of We Love to Play, an organization that brings together disabled athletes after they’ve grown out of high school sports programs. They to continue playing sports together just for fun.
MN-CCD elects board members
The Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD) has its board members in place for the 2014-2015 year. An election was held at the organization’s annual meeting October 18. Board members are elected to two-year terms, with half of the board up for election at a time.
Newly elected board members are Marnie Falk of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, Susan McGeehan of Medica, and Nicholas Wilkie of Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL). Christopher Bell of the American Council of the Blind of Minnesota, David Hancox of Accra Care (formerly MCIL), Gene Martinez of The Arc Greater Twin Cities, Alicia Munson of Opportunity Partners and Scott Schifsky of The Arc Minnesota.
Current board members whose terms end in December 2015 are Linda Orrben of Mains’l Services, Susie Schatz and Gayle Syrdal of Lutheran Social Services, Nikki Villavicencio of SEIU and Joan Willshire of the Minnesota State Council on Disability.
Joel Ulland of UCare and Jeff Nachbar of the Brain Injury Alliance stepped down from the board. Officers will be elected when the board meets in December.
Businesses saluted for providing jobs for people with disabilities
Several employers who have seen the value of making people with disabilities part of their workforce have earned 2014 Employer of the Year honors from ProAct. Four winners were selected from the manufacturing, restaurant and retail sectors.
Honorees are Dianne’s Custom Candles of Burnsville, Eagan Hardware Hank, the McDonald’s restaurant near Eagan’s Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall and Noiseland Industries of Minneapolis. They were recognized at ProAct’s 42nd Annual Awards Dinner, which drew more than 550 to the Prom Center in Oakdale. Susie Jones of WCCO Radio served as banquet emcee.
“Our partnerships with employers are invaluable to the people with disabilities we serve, said ProAct President and CEO Steven Ditschler. “Besides wages, work provides a sense of wellbeing and satisfaction along with the opportunity to contribute something of value and be a part of.”
Minneapolis-based Noiseland Industries, which distributes music for popular record labels and artists, was honored in the Business Partner category. ProAct has prepared and packaged more than 260,000 traditional vinyl albums for the company, said Greg Pechman, Noiseland’s sales manager. The nonprofit’s production facility has been able to meet the company’s tight deadlines and the increasing demand fueled by its growth.
Noiseland’s owner Andrew Volna said the music business had a lot of deadline pressure, much of it stemming from the street date when the product needs to be at the retailers. High-profile marketing campaigns are structured around street dates, as the artist may be appearing on popular television programs.
Demand for vinyl records continues to grow. Noiseland has produced 600 vinyl record titles to date. “What ProAct does is the last mile,” Volna said. Workers assemble the records for shipment. “They’re a real solid, dependable group.”
Winning recognition in the Community Employment category is Dianne’s Custom Candles, a candle manufacturer in Burnsville. The business recently added a second crew of ProAct workers and expanded their job duties, said Catherine McCoy, ProAct business development and support manager. Workers package and unpackage glass items. They also work with mailings and cleaning. “They always ask what they can do to help us, and for what’s needed,” said Mia Miller, production manager.
Vocational Partner category winner is Eagan Hardware Hank. For more than a decade, people with disabilities have had work experiences at the store. Some have been hired independently. “Hardware Hank has gone above and beyond to remain flexible, enthusiastic and friendly,” said ProAct Employment Manager Heather Deutschlaender. She cited Hardware Hank’s positive work environment.
Eagan Hardware Hank can tailor a job to determine how an individual works. Workers can then advance to other tasks, said store owner Allan Funk. He believes that bringing people with disabilities in is one way to help the community.
“We’re a small store, and hardware is not a profitable, millionaire business, so how can we contribute and help? You hear that you can give money, but you might do better helping people to help themselves,” Funk said.
McDonald’s on Silver Bell Road in Eagan received honors in the Supported Employment category. ProAct provides support for three restaurant employees. “I like the fact they come in and they check in with me so there’s no misunderstanding or miscommunications,” said Olga Tsybulskaya, restaurant general manager. “It helps everybody to be on the same page.” One McDonald’s employee has been on staff for 11 years. “It makes me happy, knowing I can give them that opportunity that they can be independent, and live their life just like everybody else does,” Tsybulskaya said.
ProAct is headquartered in Eagan and has additional operations in Red Wing, Zumbrota and in Hudson, Wis. Its mission is to serve individuals experiencing barriers to employment and self-sufficiency due to intellectual and developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health issues, traumatic brain injuries, and other challenges.
A Dive Too Deep is one man’s personal story
How deep is a dive too deep? That is the question raised by a Bloomington man’s autobiography. On July 25, 1964, Bob Peters took that dive too deep. He was swimming and playing with family members when the accident occurred. He was 24 years old and newly married.
The accident turned his and his wife Penny’s lives upside-down. Peters’ neurosurgeon was brutally honest, telling Peters a broken neck and crushed spinal cord had left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. “You’ll probably never get out of bed,” the neurosurgeon said. “If you do, you’ll never walk, and it’s not likely you’ll live much past 40.”
Peters’ first response was to think, “Why me?” He realized that opportunity often comes after a “Why Me” life-altering experience. He has not only survived, but thrived, retiring in 2004 from a 43-year career in the electronics field. He and Penny live in Bloomington, where he is involved in disability-related local, state, and national activities that seek to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Diversity awareness issues are also high on his agenda.
Peters’ book, A Dive Too Deep, describes his life after the accident and his lifelong efforts to live with quadriplegia. One reader said, ‘’A Dive Too Deep is exquisitely written. The carefully chosen words, tidbits of inner terror, popups here-there of the memorable moments that so needed their own humor, all resulted in a most moving read…”
“Your book touches on everything; fear, sadness, anger, humor, hope, and inspiration,” another reader said. “I found myself laughing out loud in parts of it…”
Peters is a nationally known freelance writer. Since 2000 he has written about traveling with a disability. He has done disability awareness presentations since 2009. He is author of Easy Wheelin’ inMinnesota, which was published in 1976. He has also served as a guest columnist on disability-related issued for the Bloomington Sun-Current newspaper.
He has a long resume of community service, starting in his hometown. He was a City of Bloomington Human Rights Commission member from 2000 to 2007. He was a member of Bloomington’s Advisory Committee on Architectural Barriers and served as committee chairperson from 1976 to 1980. In 1981 and 1982, he chaired Bloomington’s 1981 International and National Year of Disabled Persons committees.
He also was a member and chairperson of the city’s Disability Services Advisory Board.
He served on the Bloomington’s Community Education and Services Advisory Council, the Mall of America Accessibility Design Task Force, the Alternative Transportation Task Force, the Disability Employment and Awareness Committee and the Architectural Barriers Removal Committee. He has advised the city’s human services division. He served on the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Breaking Barriers Committee.
Peters has also been active with Bloomington School District and current serves on Bloomington Jefferson High School’s Diversity Committee. He also served on the Bloomington School District’s K-6 Disability Awareness Committee.
Regionally Peters served as a member of the Courage Center’s Legislative and Regulations Advisory Committee and the Sister Kenny Institute’s Patient Care Committee. He is a past president of the Twin Cities Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and a past member of the Minnesota Office of Tourism Task Force on Accessibility. He also served on Seagate Technology’s Diversity Action Council.
Peters is grateful to have won many awards, including seven certificates of appreciation from the City of Bloomington and the city’s 2002 “You Make a Difference” Award. He won the Bloomington Community Foundation’s Legacy Award in 2006 and the Bloomington Human Rights Commissions Omar Bonderud Award in 2012. He was the BloomingtonSun-Current Volunteer of the Year in 1985. He won the Courage Center Jay and Rose Phillips Award in 1981 and was a WCCO Radio Good Neighbor Award winner that same year.
He won the League of Human Rights Commissions Minnesota Human Rights Award in 1993. Also in 1993, he was given a certificate of appreciate from Congress. He has also been honored by Hennepin County’s Voluntary Action Center, the Regional Transit Board, Minnesota Office of Volunteer Services.
To learn more about A Dive Too Deep and to order a copy, visit: www.adivetoodeep.com
Deputy director is named
This position has many responsibilities including oversight of the Communication Center. The center is comprised of the Radio Talking Book, the Audio Services Section, the Braille Section, and Engineering — filling a position that had been vacant since 2009.
Holeman comes to States Services for the Blind from Health East Medical Transportation, where she was an operations manager.
Live Well at Home mobile app receives national award
A mobile app developed for the Minnesota Board on Aging’s Live Well at Home initiative with support from the Minnesota Department of Human Services has received a merit award in the 23rd annual National Mature Media Awards Program.
The app, available at no cost through the Apple Store and Google Play, features a seven-question quiz to help users identify their own risks or another’s risk of moving permanently from their home. The app is designed to support older Minnesotans to live successfully at home by increasing awareness of risk factors.
The app poses questions about such issues as need for help with everyday tasks, availability of family members and friends to help, whether the person lives alone, memory concerns and whether the person is considering a move to assisted living or a nursing home to get more help.
“Using the Live Well at Home app and answering the quiz is a gateway to a wealth of information and tools on the Live Well at Home website,” said Jean Wood, executive director of the Minnesota Board on
Aging. “We are pleased to receive national recognition for this part of our effort to help Minnesotans plan to stay at home as they age, if they wish and if possible.”
The National Mature Media Awards Program recognizes the nation’s best marketing, communications, educational materials and programs designed and produced for older adults. It is presented by Mature Market Resource Center, a national clearinghouse for the older adult market.
Companies honored for employment
A Minneapolis-based manufacturer of textiles and a growing western Wisconsin recycling company were chosen as ProAct’s Employer of the Year honorees in Red Wing. The awards are given by the nonprofit for the exceptional role each company plays in employing people with disabilities. The top employers were honored at ProAct’s annual recognition banquet held at Treasure Island Resort and Casino. The banquet also honored accomplishments of individuals with disabilities in ProAct’s Red Wing, Zumbrota, and Hudson, Wis.-based programs.
Airtex Design Group, a worldwide production company based in Minneapolis, utilizes ProAct workers for material die cutting, assembly and packaging. Products are bulk-shipped to the company’s customers, said Jurij Sarafanov of Airtex. It has worked with ProAct for a number of years and the vast majority of ProAct’s consumers are a good fit for the work.
Workers handle swatch cards, representations of drapes that come in various sizes which are die cut.
Headers and product stickers are attached, these are bagged and then shipped, said Sarafanov. “I have nothing but good things to say about ProAct,” he said. “It’s a good company to work with, and we appreciate their professionalism and work that they do for us.” Airtex, formerly known as Miller Bag Company, has been in business for 103 years.
The second winner, Paul’s Industrial Garage or P.I.G., employs seven individuals from ProAct at its materials recycling center in Diamond Bluff, Wis., just across the Mississippi River from Red Wing. The company hired a daily crew and supervisor in the spring of 2013 to help sort recyclable glass, plastic and aluminum collected from area homes.
The work can be dirty, but the ProAct crew and supervisor are drawing compliments for the opposite. “I have people stop by our building and they’re amazed at how clean it is,” said General Manager Dave Deml. Since ProAct began here, recyclable material processing has increased by 25 percent. Deml gave the crew more responsibility and said they’ve handled it well.
The crew has stayed nearly the same since it began. Reliability was importasnt to Deml. ProAct Site Supervisor Pete Quist has helped the crew to do more than Deml originally thought possible, adding tasks such as material baling.