People & Places - September 2013

New program makes these campers happy

Camps of Courage & Friendship has added to its offerings with a new partnership. Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body or CLIMB Theater was added this summer to the camping program’s extensive list of activities.

Peter Mol entertains campers by acting out a skit.
Peter Mol entertains campers by acting out a skit.

The non-profit children’s theater provides programming once a week at each of the Camps of Courage & Friendship sites. The company presents plays and engages campers in fun and creative games all while touching on topics like respect, friendship and acceptance of differences. The camping program can provide these experiences throughout the summer because of the Partner in Arts Participation grant it received through the Minnesota State Arts Board this past spring.

CLIMB Theater started in 1975 as a theater company for persons with disabilities “This is our way of getting back to our roots,” said Peter Mol of CLIMB Theater.

“The program offers a unique experience that differs from typical camp activities by focusing on theater skills and expressing themselves in a different way. We are so pleased to add this new and fresh experience to our programming,” Camps of Courage & Friendship Program Director Jon Salmon said.

Camps of Courage & Friendship, a nonprofit, privately-funded agency, enriches the lives of nearly 4,000 people with developmental or physical disabilities and special needs annually. Camp locations include Camp Friendship near Annandale, Camp Eden Wood in Eden Prairie, Camp New Hope near McGregor, Camp Courage near Maple Lake and Camp Courage North near Lake George.

 

 

 

New name for a longtime Twin Cities area service provider

Living Well Disability ServicesLiving Well Disability Services is the new name for a longtime Twin Cities area service provider. Eagan-based Dakota Communities made the name change last month. The new name reflects changes in residential care, which allow more people with disabilities to live in the community.

Parents and volunteers in the West St. Paul area founded what was originally Dakota’s Children in 1972. The nonprofit now offers support services to adults and children with physical and developmental disabilities. Living Well Disability Services still owns and operates 33 group homes in 19 communities. But over the years the nonprofit has expanded to offer services in a client’s home. Living Well Disability Services currently offers customized home services to about 120 people and is expected to double by 2016.

The name change includes a new logo and the slogan, “Transforming Lives,” which represents the organization’s mission to deliver exceptional services that transform the lives of people impacted by disabilities.

“Changing our name to Living Well Disability Services was driven by the fact that we intend to serve more families in the future and become a resource to a same commitment to excellence intended by our founders in 1972.”

The new name also more accurately reflects the nonprofit’s wider service area, which has grown beyond Dakota County. “The name Living Well Disability Services builds on our rich legacy and honors what we help people do live well,” said Julie Manworren, President and Chief Executive Officer, Living Well Disability Services. “Our board, volunteers and employees are approaching this transition with great energy as we work together to extend exceptional service to families we currently serve and those who would benefit from our unique approach.”

Innovation in service, accessibility, wellness and technology are allowing more people to live as independently as possible through customized home services. The changes and added staff should be part of addressing a current state backlog in care. The state has a moratorium on new group homes and restricts how openings are filled, so home care demand continues to increase. Home care is also typically less costly than group home care.

Living Well Disability Services has a staff of more than 600 full-time, part-time and occasional employees, including direct-care providers, occupational therapists and medical and support staff. It also has a team of about 250 volunteers. Its annual operating budget is about $19 million.

 

 

UCare adds two executives

UCare has added two executives to its leadership team. Gregory A. Hanley is the nonprofit health plan’s new Quality Management Director in UCare’s Quality Management department. John Rotilie, M.D., is UCare’s new Associate Medical Director, a part-time position in UCare’s Clinical and Quality Management area.

As UCare’s Quality Management Director, Hanley oversees the development, implementation, and evaluation of UCare’s member-focused clinical quality improvement processes. His team analyzes clinically oriented health plan performance reports and ensures that UCare’s clinical quality performance meets or exceeds requirements set by regulatory agencies. He provides oversight and direction for UCare’s practitioner credentialing as well as complaints, appeals, and grievance processes, and participates in the setting and accomplishment of UCare’s strategic direction as a member of the leadership team. Hanley most recently was the Regional Director of Quality Improvement at Coventry Health Care in Kansas City.

Rotilie is an internal medicine physician with Rotilie, Toman and McRaith, LLC, in St. Paul. In his part-time position with UCare, he reports to Michael Lynch, M.D., UCare’s Medical Director, and joins UCare’s team of Associate Medical Directors, Craig Christianson, M.D., and Dan Rubin, M.D. As a member of UCare’s Clinical and Quality Management team, Rotilie helps oversee the health care needs of UCare’s nearly 300,000 members. He also contributes to the development, implementation, and maintenance of UCare’s quality improvement, utilization review, and case management activities. Rotilie has close to 30 years of health care experience.

UCare is an independent, nonprofit health plan providing health care and administrative services to more than 300,000 members. UCare serves more people from diverse cultures and more people with disabilities enrolled in Medical Assistance than any other health plan in Minnesota.

 

 

Youth Legacy Foundation Takes Shape

The Youth Legacy Foundation is celebrating its newly obtained nonprofit status. About 80 people attended an August 17 celebration and ribbon-cutting event at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis.

Courtesy of the Youth Legacy Foundation
Courtesy of the Youth Legacy Foundation

The Youth Legacy Foundation empowers youth with disabilities to lead exemplary lives in the community.  Youth are involved in activities centered on volunteer service, Legacy, mentoring and peer mentoring.

“Youth are important to our future, so they are important to us,” said Mai Thor, Youth Legacy Foundation board chairperson. She is a well-known disability community leader and a former Access Press writer.

“For too long, society has focused on the perceived deficits of people with disabilities because of the stigma and discrimination attached to labels. This is really unfair and it inhibits people with disabilities from being all they can be for themselves and their communities. We want to break through all of these barriers to make way for youth with disabilities to not only be a part of community life, but to influence it and shape it,” said Bridget Siljander. She is the founding executive director for the foundation and has been involved in a number of disability community groups.

Organizers said the fun event energized those involved and captured a sense of community around youth with disabilities. The foundation will continue to build momentum to unify, organize and leverage community resources, networks, and programs. Another goal is to facilitate access and negotiate accommodations to promote personal and professional development and capitalizing on strengths, gifts, and abilities to give back to the community.

Elected officials and disability community leaders were among those who congratulated the foundation, with many speaking during the program. Joining the speakers were four young people who shared their disability experiences and what is important to them. Brian Barnes, a recent Congressional candidate whose last campaign had significant youth participation, said, “Let’s look at what youth can do.”

The foundation already has a long list of accomplishments, including the formation of a youth advisory council and design of a new website. Members hosted a conference at Courage Center and gathered community input. They also presented at the Minnesota

Statewide Self-Advocacy Conference, on Diversity Day, and at the Wisconsin Youth Legacy Forum 2013 annual youth retreat. The foundation has been featured on KFAI Radio and on the television show “Disability Viewpoints.” Foundation members also exhibited at the ARRM Conference. Several members spoke at a large disability rally at the capitol during the 2013 session.

One key accomplishment was participation in National Disability Mentoring Day and activities to commemorate National Disability Awareness Month and Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Youth Legacy Foundation would like more community participation as it prepares for upcoming projects and more public policy advocacy by its constituents. It included more outreach and community visibility, fundraising to expand the organization and recruitment of mentors to support youth participants with planning, goal setting, and activities. A working partnership with Wayzata Public Schools will connect students with diverse community opportunities around volunteer service, mentoring and Legacy.

Help with event planning and the creation of a public service announcement are other needs. Anyone wanting to be involved with Youth Legacy Foundation can call 612-293-7008 or email bridgetsiljander@yahoo.com.  The group’s website is www.youthlegacyfoundation.org.

 

New personnel at Fraser

Fraser, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit serving children and adults with special needs, has announced that it has received three-year accreditation from CARF International (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). This accreditation primarily focuses on two areas, Fraser Career Planning and Employment Services and Fraser Autism Center of Excellence. Several Fraser services were also acknowledged as exemplary and deserving of national recognition.

Fraser also has two new members of its leadership team. Aric Jensen is now Director of Mental Health. Jensen will manage, develop, and expands Fraser’s Mental Health Programs serving children with severe emotional and behavioral disturbances. He was previously employed at Portia Bell Hume Center as Program Manager for the School Based Prevention and Early Intervention Program. While there he developed and managed all aspects of the program from initial community needs assessments to developing, implementing and providing service offerings to expansion and growth of the program. He also had ongoing evaluations of program and service outcomes and continuous community needs assessments.

Michael Nass is the new Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Fraser. He will be responsible for the overall financial, information technology, facility and revenue cycle management operations of Fraser. He serves as a key advisor to the chief executive officer and board, providing financial leadership in developing and executing long-term strategies and goals of the organization.

Nass was previously employed at HealthEast Care System serving in the capacity of Vice President/Chief Financial Officer for the last two years, and for 28 years previously as corporate controller, assistant controller and divisional controller.

Fraser, founded in 1935, is Minnesota’s largest and longest-tenured provider of autism services. Fraser also serves children and adults with more than 60 types of mental and physical disabilities.

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