For supporters of the mission and vision of the Anne Carlsen Center
Summer 2016 www.annecarlsen.org
M E S S A G E
I N D E P E N D E N C E
reward a person can have.
DR. ANNE CARL SE N
F R O M
T H E
C E O
As one chapter ends, another begins, yet sadly, for many individuals with special needs, arriving at adulthood means fewer options to live independently. The Anne Carlsen Center recognized this gap, and put forward a plan to offer a community-based solution that maintains our high standards of quality and innovation. After years of careful planning and preparation, our persistence paid off. In May, we broke ground for Taylor Made Living, an integrated residential community in Fargo. By blending work placements and daily living skills training with recreation, personal choice, and social interaction, Taylor Made Living opens the door to living options based on individual The slogan ‘Press needs and preferences, where On’ has solved and quality of life and freedom to determine a personal course always will solve of action is always the highest the problems of the priority. We invite you to human race. read more about the future of President Calvin Coolidge independent living on page 2.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence” former President Coolidge once mused, “The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” There’s something uniquely powerful about someone who carries themselves with persistence and determination. It’s a distinction that overshadows all other qualities; more than talent, more than strength, more than education or background, the resolution to never give up is what really inspires people. When you meet someone like this, odds are you’ll never forget them. They remind us that we too are capable of great works, if we keep moving forward.
For nearly 75 years, the Anne Carlsen Center has endeavored to make the world a more inclusive place where independence is a gift to all. That’s a tall order, to be sure. To prepare the child for the path —and the path for the child—may be perceived by some as too lofty…too unrealistic. Yet, thanks to supporters like you, we persist. Day in and day out, the committed staff and faculty at the Anne Carlsen Center are here to nurture the abilities of those we serve. And with each victory they share with these individuals—each new word spoken, each untapped skill developed, each longlasting relationship cultivated—we get closer to realizing that mission, and the enduring dream of our namesake, Dr. Anne Carlsen. Dr. Anne embodied the inestimable power of persistence. In this issue of The Ambassador, I’m honored to tell you about a few accomplishments made possible by following her example.
On the top of the list are a group of remarkable young people, celebrating a major milestone in their journey to independence. This spring, five students took to the auditorium stage to receive their high school diplomas. Saying “farewell” on graduation day is always a bit bittersweet, but the promise of a bright future ahead makes our heavy hearts a little lighter. Turn to page six to read more about Michael, Jade, Cyndyl, Keaton and Casey, our graduating class of 2016.
Lastly, another seed of opportunity has begun to bear fruit, thanks to our persistent drive to meet the needs of growing families. In June, we opened Learn n’ Move Childcare in Fargo. A collaborative effort with TNT Kid’s Fitness, Learn ‘n Move will provide highly specialized childcare in an enriched, inclusive environment where children discover the importance of physical activity and nutrition. Joining with TNT Kid’s Fitness and Haley’s Hope in a common space allows children of all abilities access to an elementary-sized gym and toy lending library, while parents benefit from the shared resources of a distinguished group of premier partners. Read more about the endless possibilities to learn, grow and play on page 8. The importance of our work demands constancy and persistence. It’s only through your support that we can continue making a difference… one life, one program, one community at a time.
Eric Monson CEO – Anne Carlsen Center
explains. Currently, living arrangements for adults with disabilities are designed to accommodate work placements and provide appropriate assistance with daily living skills. Occasional recreational and social outings are scheduled, but the unique interests of the individual remain secondary to more practical considerations. This paradigm was established 30 years ago, and is still adopted by most group home facilities.
On a blustery early morning in May, Anne Carlsen Center staff, board members and community stockholders gathered in south Fargo to break ground at the future site of Taylor Made Living. Clad in white hardhats with ceremonial gold shovels in hand, they struck and scattered the newly-graded dirt, marking the spot for the region’s first integrated residential facility for active adults with special needs. Waiting in the wind, a royal-yellow excavator, gleaming in the sunlight, eager to begin digging the foundation. That’s the most important part. You need a solid foundation to build on. Fortunately for the future residents of this revolutionary new home, the groundwork had been laid long ago, in the hopes of a purpose-driven mother, and the leadership of a forward-thinking organization.
“Life shouldn’t have to slow down” When Jane Nelson talks about the living options available for high-functioning adults with special needs, it’s with a thoughtful passion that borders on defiance. It hangs in the air as plain as the clouds in the sky, weaving through her message until it crystalizes with resounding clarity: what’s out there now, is simply not good enough. There is a reason why Jane is so Taylor Nelson invested in the project. Her son,
(and inspiration for the project) Taylor, was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes significant cognitive delays and autism-like tendencies. Currently enrolled in the Anne Carlsen Center’s Day Support program, after Taylor graduated from Fargo South High School, Jane and her husband Steve surveyed the residential alternatives for their “fun and social guy,” and were disappointed in what they found. “There are a few good options, but not enough. The good options were still really outdated” she
son says. “We have children of all abilities grow up in a rich environment, but after they graduate from high school, options narrow. This community housing option allows additional freedom for individuals, as another stop on their road to independence.”
Day-to-day operations at TML are still being developed, as the Anne Carlsen Center assesses the resources required to accommodate residents’ individual needs and choices. But “A friend of ours had a son who the unique design of the buildwas put into a group home” Jane ing reflects the transformative recalls. “They went out one night, approach to supporting adults and decided to stop by and visit with living needs. Equipped with him. It was 5:30 in the evening. technology and outfitted with The whole group had eaten, and everyday conveniences of home, they were all in their pajamas private suites for residents ensures watching TV and waiting for bedprivacy and comfort, while a large time. That was going to be his life.” living area provides the space for Taylor’s mother and TML extended family visits and commuvisionary Jane Nelson shares The inadequacies of this model are nity activities. “This home is her family’s remarkable journey magnified with the modern regoing to be beautiful” President alities of a new generation. “Most of Heritage Homes Tyrone kids now have had very stimulating environments Leslie says. “It’ll be a home all about livability. they’ve been brought up in” Jane explains. “It’s not It will blend personal freedom with a community like it was 30 years ago, where kids with special aspect, giving the residents an opportunity to be a needs were in the basements in the schools—they part of something bigger.” weren’t involved in church, they weren’t out in the community. We want our son to continue to live, and A rich and fulfilling life abounds with options. Exnot live someplace where life will slow down.” ploring possibilities allow us to discover who we are, and what we can contribute to the world. When resiIntegrated Living Built on Options dents of Taylor Made Living enter their new home, Taylor Made Living promises to be that place, they bring with them years of special education, where adults like Taylor can continue to live acgeared at supporting and managing their individual tive, fulfilling lives, based on priorities we all aspire needs and goals for independence. They are wellto: friends…family…meaningful work…personal prepared to engage the world—yet the world is not interests and aspirations. While residents may still as prepared to engage them. Taylor Made Living will require assistance in vocational and daily living help to bridge that gap. Empowered by the options to skill training, TML will offer opportunities just as pursue their own needs and interests, TML residents important to the quality of life—options that foster will integrate into the community prepared to parthe development of the whole person. Guided by the ticipate, and give back. residents’ families, recreation and leisure activities, community involvement, and social interaction With high expectations and eager hearts, the Anne will be the defining hallmarks in a new chapter for Carlsen Center is excited to build the future of independent living. independent living. Thanks to the generous support of community partners like Thrivent Mutual Funds and Heritage Homes, the Anne Carlsen Center has secured the resources to direct these efforts, as part of its Community-Based service programming. “Taylor Made allows options” Anne Carlsen CEO Eric Mon-
Watch the extended coverage of Taylor Made Living groundbreaking ceremony at annecarlsen.org/html For more information about Taylor Made Living, contact Anne Carlsen Center’s Day/In-Home Supports and Individualized Supported Living Arrangement Director Katy Barnum: Katy.Barnum@annecenter.org
Please reintroduce yourself to our audience. Your time at the Anne Carlsen Center, your relationship with (Director of Assistive Technology) Mark Coppin, how you became interested in cinematography, etc.
his February, one of the Anne Carlsen Center’s most distinguished graduates, Sady Paulson,
received her Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Cinematography at the
My name is Sady Paulson, and I have Cerebral Palsy. Ten years ago I was graduating from High school and went to a PT and OT evaluation at Anne Carlsen Center, where Mark Coppin introduced computer technology to me, which enhanced my ability to communicate with the outside world. He then got me interested in film editing at a summer camp called TechnoCamp at Elks Camp Grassick. Later, Mark helped me apply for college at Full Sail University. I graduated on February 5th 2016 with my Bachelor of Science in Digital Cinematography. My GPA was 3.63, and I got the Advanced Achievement Award! Mark and I have been good friends ever since that first meeting at ACC. He helped me to see my dreams, and he believed in me. Mark is always there to assist when I need it. He pushed me hard, but I needed that. Without him I would not be here to say I am a Cinematographer. (But, he does not think so.) He made my dream come true.
prestigious Full Sail University. She also received the Advanced Achievement Award as a recognition of her dedication and excellent work. We caught up with Sady to learn more about her college experience, and what the future holds for this talented aspiring filmmaker. –4
Full Sail University graduates have made outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment, media, and the arts. Sady joins a long list of esteemed alumni who’ve received top honors in their fields, including Oscar and Grammy winners.
Describe your college experience. What were the most exciting moments? The most challenging? My college experience was truly amazing. My teachers were so wonderful and helpful. They didn’t see my disability, they saw Sady. My teachers didn’t take it easy on me just because I have a disability. That was really awesome. A few things that I found exciting were my classmate’s feedback, they didn’t know about my disability. They learned about it half way through the program. We were starting our thesis projects. My mini-documentary was on my life, assistive technology, and the relationship between Mark and me. Also, when I got feedback from my teachers, it felt great.
Apple came out with Switch Control on iOS devices in 2013. I had been using Switch Control since then. I really love it. Now for Mac, Apple came out with Switch Control for Mac the same year as iOS devices. All you have to do is turn on your computer and go. However, I didn’t change over to Switch Control because I was already in school. Now, I am on Switch Control, and it is so amazing. It was not hard to change over to Switch Control. Technology is going to get better each day. I love to watch it evolve.
New college grad Sady Paulson with Anne Carlsen Center’s Director of Assistive Technology Mark Coppin (left) and inclusion educator Luis Perez (right).
Another thing that I found awarding when I got an A on a project. That was really exciting for me. Just to know that my hard work has paid off. Two things that were challenging were finding help and space to film, because my assignments were back to back. Another challenge was to find a Director of Photography for my thesis project. I can’t physically film, because my CP is too bad. However, I always found a way to get my assignments done.
How have the technologies evolved during the time you attended college? WOW! Technology has evolved so much in only three years. I can use my iPhone without the extra support from apps. Now, built right into the accessibility options you can use your iPhone right out of the box.
What’s next for you and your career?
I am going back to college in May for my master’s degree in Human and Social Services at Walden University. My dream is to have a day program that will focus on assistive technology and people’s abilities. I can’t see my opportunities stopping.
What advice would you have for prospective students? Never give up on their dreams and goals for their lives. It will not be easy a lot of the time, but if they really want it. Make it happen! Also, big dream!
To watch Sady graduation video, visit annecarlsen.org/sady Learn more about Sady’s exciting journey by visiting her blog: sadypaulson.com/blog/
Excited young people, draped in shiny gowns and “You have achieved great brainstorming sessions later, it topped with tasseled caps… proud heights” North Dakota was discovered that playing parents, struggling with phone settings Department of Public a 30 second audio clip to take the perfect picture…nostalgic Instruction Special of a key Yankees win educators, reflecting on another schoolyear come Education Re“brought Michael’s and gone…It’s a scene that plays out in countless gional Coordiperformance gymnasiums and auditoriums across the country, and nator Valerie alive.” With the Anne Carlsen Center is no different. On graduation day, Bakken a little we recognize the tremendous accomplishments of our acknowlmotivation to edged in her keep swinging students, as they enter a new phase in their journey keynote speech. for the fences, to adulthood. It’s an exciting day that welcomes “You are equipped Michael brings all his students of all abilities under the banner potential to the plate. with the necessary tools of an earned distinction, and another to write the next chapter in opportunity to recognize your book of life.” similarities—instead of Jade Haldeman differences—and see Special Education With one chapter ending and new the person—not Teacher Adie Hobert one before them, let’s reintroduce the disability. was next to take the some of the memorable characters of the Anne Carlsen Center’s graduating class of 2016.
Michael Gunderson “My advice to you, Michael” Direct Support Professional Sheila Ova said, glancing warmly at the first graduate honored during the memories segment of the ceremony, “is to keep on smiling.” Describing Michael as a “true, strong fighter,” Ova recalled special moments with Michael, including a Make-a-Wish trip to see his beloved New York Yankees defeat the Minnesota Twins. “You’re a very special person to many people… I’m glad I was able to watch you grow and learn— plus you were a great teacher to many people” Ova said. One of those individuals who learned from Michael was Community Integration Specialist Les Kendall. Under Kendall’s vocational instruction, Michael worked diligently at Immanuel Lutheran Church, shredding documents, vacuuming, and assembling soup packages to sell for “a killer price.” Although Michael completed his vocational training with flying colors, there were moments that required extra effort to keep him on track, Kendall explained. A few
stage, to tell us about a familiar face who’s made the Anne Carlsen Center her home since 2002. Jade Haldeman has grown into “an exceptional young lady,” who appreciates “the finer things in life” Hobert explained. An “old soul” with a penchant for fashion, Jade would donate her beautiful wavy brown hair to Locks of Love, accessorizing her new look with a smart hat and elegantlymanicured nails. Jade’s love for style was only surpassed by her commitment to serve. Jade took great joy in volunteering at local nursing homes and Humane Society shelters, where her easy-going, calm demeanor earned her the affections of two-legged and four-legged friends alike. It was only fitting that Hobert wished the quiet, good-humored young woman off with a gentle wisdom that Jade wears so well: “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, they too have their story.”
Cyndyl IronBull Our next graduate embodied the role of an active, accomplished student by anyone’s measure. In the last three years, Cyndyl IronBull has been a Girl Scouts mentor, a member of the Anne Carlsen Center’s Pow Wow Club, an awardwinning member of the Scrapbooking and Hobby Club(s), and the highlight of her year, being selected as Prom Queen by her fellow classmates.
Casey Savelkoul Finally, it was Casey’s turn to be recognized…and he basked in the spotlight. Casey demonstrated to the crowd his “contagious smile and laugh” with each recollection of his mischievous adventures. Gifted with boundless energy and an undaunted spirit, Casey always finds a way to have fun, a quality that made him very popular in the classroom and in the community.
In spite of all her achievements, Special Education Teacher Danelle Fugate will remember Cyndyl for her laughter, above all else. “Cyndyl has one of the best laughs I’ve ever heard. It comes from within, bubbling forth, and bringing smiles to those around her” Fugate said. Fighting back tears, Fugate implored Cyndyl to never underestimate how special she is: “Promise me you’ll always remember you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Last September, Casey moved to Minot to be closer to his family. The transition has been a successful one, mainly because “Everyone who knows or comes in contact with Casey completely falls in love with him, and his wonderful personality” Behavioral Health Services Coordinator Jackie Loepp said. We have high hopes for this precocious, priceless prankster.
It was Cyndyl who would speak last and speak the loudest. “I wanted to thank teachers, staff and my family for teaching me that I am stronger than I ever thought possible” she said. Keaton Lewis “When Keaton is happy” Special Education Teacher Gloria Jones beamed, “everyone is happy.” Whether it was participating in Student Council, Fitness Club, Yearbook Committee, or simply lounging on his favorite bean bag chair, the “smile that could light up a room” on Keaton’s face was a recognizable sight on campus and in the community, according to Jones. Throughout high school, Keaton enjoyed several vocational experiences that provided valuable job skill training and opportunities to exercise his independence. By assisting in delivering mail and dropping off recycling materials, Keaton was able to learn how to enter and exit a car safely, a critical skill for a young man who’s always on the go. Fortunately for his friends at the ACC, Keaton won’t be going too far. After graduation, Keaton will remain in the Jamestown area, where he’ll continue to thrive with the support of his loving family.
Watch the extended coverage of the 2016 Anne Carlsen Center Graduation Ceremony: http://annecarlsen.org/graduation
Amid the celebration and excitement, the Anne Carlsen Center took pause to honor an unforgettable teacher and friend for a lifetime of commitment to our students. Just as he’s done throughout his thirty-year tenure at the Anne Carlsen Center, Special Education Teacher Tom Kenna cheered on the graduating class, whose accomplishments were engendered by his faithful service. As a tribute to his fruitful career and the countless lives he touched, Anne Carlsen Center staff played a video during the ceremony, highlighting the indelible impact he’s made on the people and the organization. In addition, two benches commemorating Tom were presented to him and his family. One, to be displayed at his home, the other to always remain at the Anne Carlsen Center garden, where it will serve as a thoughtful reminder of a life well lived. Tom Kenna passed away on June 16th of this year. He left this world peacefully; he knew how much he was loved.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES Bruce Furness Fargo, N.D.
Michelle Rodgers Hopkins, Minn.
Matthew Hanson New York City, N.Y.
Thomas Rohleder Immediate Past/Former Chair Fargo, N.D.
Harvey Huber Chair Jamestown, N.D. Pat McCullough Treasurer Loretto, Minn. Robert Montgomery, M.D. Fargo, N.D. Sue Offutt, Ph.D. Cashton, Wisc. Nicole Poolman Bismarck, N.D.
Janet Seaworth Secretary Bismarck, N.D. Casey Stoudt Vice Chair Jamestown, N.D. Reesa Webb Centennial, Colo. Myra Quanrud, M.D. Ex Officio Jamestown, N.D.
SENIOR MANAGEMENT Eric Monson Chief Executive Officer
Sam Brownell Information Technology Director
Tim Eissinger Chief Operating Officer – Jamestown Campus
Allan Hartmann Chief Financial Officer
Jody Vigness Senior Director of Community Based Services Margie Johnson Human Resource Director
Patrick Kirby Chief Development Officer Kresha Wiest Director of Mgmt. Systems Stephanie Nelson Director of Ideation Center
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visiting and laughing with my staff. I also ask some of my staff for advice. Because of 24/7 staffing I am able to get different feedback from a variety of people. I am able to go out and do things and meet new people because of who my staff knows.
We’re proud to of our newest contributor to the Ambassador, Matt Beilke. Growing up, I was told I wouldn’t be able to live on my own. What was I going to do if I couldn’t live on my own? When I became an adult, living as independently as possible was my main goal. My dilemma was figuring out what was the best option for me. It took some time (a few years actually), but I figured it out. I would get my own apartment and have staff come to me. Because I need full physical assistance I would need 24/7 staffing. The best thing about living on my own is that I get to live like a 26 year old man. I get to do what I want and when I want to do it. I don’t have to wait for anyone else, or wait until someone has time to assist me. I have my own responsibilities and I pay my own bills. I don’t have anyone else doing it for me. I enjoy talking with people and I really enjoy
Living on my own has taught me to be an advocate. Not everyone fits into the same mold; because of this, a lot of my programming has been personalized. I get to direct my own care. I am also able to help choose my staff. Everyone wants staff that is a good match. When choosing staff I choose someone who I feel will always be in my corner. My mom would have loved to have kept her baby at home. I understand this, but I needed to spread my wings and fly. I know my mom and dad are proud of me for the decisions I have made. I am proud of them for letting me be my own guardian and trust that I will make the right decisions.
The Anne Carlsen Center invites you to attend the 3rd Annual Autism Spectrum Disorders Conference.
October 26-28, 2016 Grand Hotel Minot, North Dakota. Supported by the ND Department of Human Services, this informative event is intended to educate parents, therapists, teachers, medical professionals, and first responders about autism. Whether you are new to autism or steeped in its many complexities, this conference has something for everyone. Spaces will fill fast so register today!
Connect with the Anne Carlsen Center on Facebook Become a fan, learn about upcoming events, and share your memories with fellow friends of the Center.
Breaking Ground on Independent Living