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Newsletter by and for the colleagues of Volunteers of America - Minnesota Our Own Place Called Hope How many ways can you say “hope?” Unless you speak Italian, the name for our new treatment center for women will add another – Speranza – opening sometime this month at 1394 Jackson Street in St. Paul. The opening follows months of program planning by Terry Thompson, Shannon Amundson and Michelle Rosenau in our Residential Treatment service line. That culminated in the hiring of Deb Chmieleski to be the Speranza facility director. And what a facility it is! Facilities Director Mike Price and the skilled craftspeople he assembled transformed one floor of the building from a run-down senior care center to a warm and vibrant 16-bed unit, featuring contemporary furniture in restful colors, an innovative group therapy room and a reflection room with a water feature. Funds for that room were donated in our national Founders Day worship service in March. The center also has an updated dining room, complete with a newly equipped kitchen. Speranza Means Hope Consider who will come to Speranza. It will be the temporary home for women, ages 18 and over, with chemical dependency and mental health conditions, the vast majority of whom will be trauma survivors. Perhaps for the first time in their lives, these women will experience what “hope” feels like. As is coming with all of our services, therapy will be based on the principles of Trauma-Informed Care, assessing the full spectrum of what happened to a resident earlier in their life and prescribing a course of treatment tailored to their needs.

May 1, 2013

Mosaic Quilt Unveiled Page 2-3

Senior Leadership Page 4 Circle of Hope by Denise Fosse, Colleague Anniversaries

Excellence Page 5

Thank you to Suzanne and Michael, Underground Ramp Maintenance Update, Human Resources Launches Centralized Orientation Program

Dignity Pages 6-7

Care Options Network Publications, Trauma Informed Care, SPSN at the State Capitol, RSVP Volunteering Activites CallOut

Hope Pages 8-9

Bar None Talent Show, Bar None Employee of the Year, Steve Wold, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month

Self-reliance Page 10

RCC and Amicus Picnic, Lake Street Community Relations Board

VOA-MN Appoints 3 people to Senior Leadership Team

VISION Uplif t All Lives

We are also very happy to open this facility in St. Paul. Public officials there have been supportive of our efforts, as has the community as a whole. We will keep you informed as we get closer to the opening. Thanks for reading and please keep hoping.

VALUES Coll aboration, Compassion, E xcellence, Integrit y and Respec t

MISSION Paula Hart President and CEO

Help people gain self-reliance, dignit y and hope

COLLABORATIVE PUBLIC ART INSTALLATION UNVEILED Southwest Senior Center and the Kingfield Neighborhood Association unveiled a major public art installation on Saturday and thanked those responsible. The project consists of ten mosaic panels, reminiscent of quilts. The images are interpretations from the local community’s diverse cultural textile patterns and are the work of 340 volunteers. The mosaics are installed at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 4055 Nicollet Avenue South, on the South side of the main recreation building.

The volunteers contributed an estimated 1,500 hours gluing, grouting and polishing thousands of pieces of glass to create the stunning mosaic panels. Kingfield Neighborhood Association Executive Director Sarah Linnes-Robinson said, “Like a quilt, the artwork and our community have grown both more intricate and more beautiful when viewed as a whole, rather than as its parts.”

The project brought together people from four senior centers (Park Elder, Sabathani, Centro and Southwest), two schools, and numerous community members who gathered at Southwest Senior Center, King Park, and other locations to create the panels over the course of 33 workshops. Artist Sharra Frank (left) guided the process and worked closely with a dedicated crew of lead volunteers who taught people how to create the mosaic panels. Frank was present for Saturday’s unveiling. “It was incredible to see the level of interest and enthusiasm in the neighborhood, while a little daunting as we worked to make sure that everyone had something to do,” said Mary Ann Schoenberger, Director - Southwest Senior Center. “Another high spot was during the combined senior center workshop when staff had to translate the instructions into Spanish and Hmong.”

Opening Ceremony Parade


Kingfield Neighborhood Association Executive Director Sarah Linnes-Robinson (left) and Mary Ann Schoenberger, Director - Southwest Senior Center (right).

Volunteers ranged in age from two to 97, leading to lots of interaction between generations and cultures. After dancing their way over to the Southwest Senior Center, 7th and 8th graders from Allison Rubin’s dance class at Barton Open School quickly partnered with seniors to find just the right pieces to glue on the mesh pattern.

For more information about the project or Southwest Senior Center, contact Mary Ann Schoenberger at 612-822-3194 or Watch a time-lapse video of the progress CLICK HERE Watch a video of the ceremony CLICK HERE

Allison commented, “We love working with artists and learning about community art, but our middle schoolers Top photo left: African American inspired mosaic. especially enjoy working side by side with our community Top photo right: Hmong (left) and Latino (right) inspired mosaics. elders at the Center and sharing life stories while making Below: Finished Mosaics at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. art.” Park in the Kingfield Neighborhood, Minneapolis, MN



Circle of Hope Pins - Uplift All Lives Imagine struggling with homelessness, hunger, mental health issues or coming out of prison and trying to find a job--for many of the people we serve, all of these might be experienced at once. What can we do to reach out and help? Wouldn’t it be nice if each person could have a Circle of Hope that sought to uplift lives and help people gain hope? That is exactly what our Circle of Hope seeks to accomplish through its leadership in giving and actions. Starting with our current leaders that give $500 annually to VOA-MN, we will recognize donors within our communities that regularly provide services,

Denise Fosse Sr. Director Resource Development

goods and gifts to uplift the lives of those we serve. As a part of the Circle of Hope, these leaders will be provided with a Circle of Hope pin that will distinguish their leadership in helping people restore and transform their lives and in their support of VOA-MN’s mission. If you know of anyone who would like to join in this effort or if you have questions about the Circle of Hope, please contact me at, or 952-945-4061. The more we can grow our Circle of Hope, the more we engage people in need within their communities.

May 2013 Anniversaries


Congratulations and thank you for your service! Robert Jones Bar None 37 years Peter Tomasino Bar None 34 years Jeffrey Albrecht IT 27 years William Melton Senior Services 25 years Lance Woodruff Adult Re-Entry 25 years Debra Haggberg SPSN 10 years Laurie Cox Senior Services 10 years Michael Olsen Bar None 5 years Laurie Connors SPSN 5 years Gail Mattison SPSN 5 years Katharine Ronald Education Center 5 years Britta Svihel Omegon 5 years Kristeen Kirchoff Senior Services 5 years C O L L A B O R ATI O N


Lori Skibbie Senior Services 1 year Tikonwaun Blackamore CRTC 1 year Jeremiah DeVries Bar None 1 year Sabina Mahmuljin SPSN 1 year Molly Welch Mental Health Clinic 1 year Amy Carlson SPSN 1 year Rebecca Feigum SPSN 1 year Pamela Orrock SPSN 1 year Allie Patterson SPSN 1 year Michael Walker Adult Re-entry 1 year Stacy Klar SPSN 1 year Lindsay Probert Bar None 1 year Brooke Alexander Omegon 1 year Kayla Littler Omegon 1 year E XC E L L E N C E



EXCELLENCE A Big Thank You To Suzanne and Michael On Thursday, April 25 about 30 people gathered to give a big thanks to Suzanne Kelly, Vice President of Children, Youth & Families and Michael Coty, interim Human Resources Leader, to wish them well on their new adventures and thank them for their leadership and service here at VOA-MN. We thank Suzanne for the work she did to unify our services in Children, Youth & Families and for helping development focus on Trauma Informed Care. We applaud Michael for spearheading many initiatives in the Human Resources department including a revamped new employee orientation process. Thank you Suzanne and Michael!

Centralized Orientation Program On April 15 the Human Resources team launched an exciting centralized orientation program for all new employees. Orientations will now be held in groups every Monday at the Metro Boulevard Office, replacing the individual meetings with Human Resources that had traditionally occurred. Participants learned about many aspects of VOA-MN, including our history and programs, Vision, Values and Mission, MyPage and benefits. They also received some VOA goodies to take home. The orientation consisted of employees from across several programs, allowing colleagues who may never have met an opportunity to get to know each other and the services they’ll provide. Thanks to everyone who has participated so far for making the new program a success! - Submitted by Michelle Price Below: Photo of newly hired colleagues participating in the centralized orientation program at VOA-MN.

Metro Boulevard Ramp Maintenance is Scheduled for May We will be doing maintenance on our ramp in May, (if the snow would go away!) at the Metro Boulevard office. Be aware that we will be re-directing and restricting areas above and below the ramp at certain times during the day. Once the specific work schedule has been determined we will post notices as to when and where you can park during the repairs. Ramp repairs are necessary every two to three years to re-caulk and maintain components on the ramp for structural integrity and to minimize leaking. We expect the work to take place over a period of one to two weeks, based somewhat on the weather. Look for further updates; if you have any questions, please contact Mike Price. - Submitted by Mike Price

Cathy Was a Great Example Our HOME is a Permanent Supportive Housing Program for families experiencing homelessness, as well as at least one family member with a disability, recently lost one of our long term residents, Cathy. She was in Our Home Program for 3 years 3 months. She worked as a nursing assistant for 17 months and took classes towards her RN

Centralized HR orientation program launches the first session at the Metro Boulevard location.

degree. She was 16 credits away from completing her degree. She made many changes in her life and was an example of how VOA-MN assists in helping people to gain self-reliance, dignity and hope. Cathy leaves behind a 10-year-old daughter who also resided with her in the Our HOME program. The residents of Our HOME develop a strong bond through groups and activities and help each other through life’s hardships by assisting each other with things like childcare, transportation, advice and friendship. Cathy was an excellent example of success for the other group members and she will be greatly missed. - Submitted by Kurt Seidel


DIGNITY Care Options Network Publications Our dress clothes are out, our shoes are shined and we are smiling. Why? It is a proud time for the staff of Care Options Network as our biggest annual publications are ready to share with our community. Care Options Network, serving the senior services community in the greater Twin Cities area, is proud to announce the publishing of our two annual publications. Fresh off the press is the SeniorCare GuideBook and the Senior Housing Directory. The SeniorCare GuideBook is a 600+ page directory of senior services that many in the senior care industry refer to as their “Bible.” This spiral bound, five pounds of information connects social workers with senior housing, brings together services such as in-home grocery shopping and those who need it, and so much more. New to the GuideBook this year is the Assisted Living Care Suites, a directory of homes that offer 24-hour care, like a nursing home, but in a more intimate, neighborhood setting. Also fresh off the press is the Senior Housing Directory, a magazine for the public with a comprehensive guide of housing options. This year’s edition offers options for living well and helps seniors with lively articles on yoga, staying home options, emotional health and more.


Mike Sisco, Care Options Network director, offers his staff congratulations for the annual milestone of releasing of the GuideBook. “A staff of fewer than ten writes, edits and publishes this guide. Truly teamwork

and perseverance is needed to go from idea to holding this finished product,” he said. Blending sought after housing information with editorial content is a challenge that this year’s 22nd edition of Senior Housing Directory achieved, said Susanne Grochett, editor and assistant director. “I am excited that we were able to collaborate with another VOA-MN senior services department. Katie Perzel, Director of Senior Mental Health, authored ‘Emotional Health – Mental Illness is not a Part of Normal Aging.’ This is vital information we are proud to offer our readers,” Grochett said. Join the Care Options Network team at the spring socials. There are five opportunities to see the Guidebook and the magazine and connect with senior care industry members. Free food and networking are available at each of these socials. Hope to see you there! Wednesday, May 1, 2-4 pm - Valley Ridge, Burnsville Thursday, May 2, 2-4 pm - The Homestead at Anoka, Anoka Monday, May 6, 2-4 pm - The Landmark of Fridley, Fridley Wednesday, May 8, 2-4 pm - TowerLight on Wooddale Avenue, St. Louis Park Thursday, May 9, 2-4 pm - Johanna Shores, Arden Hills

Spring is almost here! There are lots of ways to stay active this spring with volunteering activities. Give RSVP a call to find out. Do you have a great story about your volunteer experience? Let us know! We love to share good news. Thank you for “Leading with Experience!” Call Rachel Laurie at 952-945-4163 or email her at:

SHIFT YOUR PERSPECTIVE Apply Trauma-Informed Care

On April 12 several employees of VOA-MN, who are members of the Minnesota Trauma-Informed Care Learning Community (Alice Tennis, Suzanne Kelly, Christine Harnack, Gary Olson, Jennifer Dynes and Joan Stauffer) attended a presentation and discussion with Elizabeth Hudson, the Trauma Service Coordinator for the state of Wisconsin. Ms. Hudson emphasized that Trauma-Informed Care takes a collaborative approach, where healing is led by the consumer and supported by the service provider. Together, in a true partnership, people learn from each other. There’s greater respect, progress towards healing and greater efficacy in services. Trauma-Informed Care in organizations impacts many aspects of service delivery, from how services are provided, to how the physical space is laid out. While the shift in perspective does not happen overnight, with dedication it will start to take root. With organizational management on board and thoughtful discussion about what change needs to take place, it will not take long before staff and participants start to see a positive change. “Every human service provider should consider “Shifting Their Perspective” because we know that trauma-informed care can lead to social inclusion and healthier communities,” stated Karen Timberlake, Wisconsin Secretary of the Department of Human Services. Ten Values of Trauma-Informed Care 1. Understand the prevalence and impact of trauma 2. Pursue the person’s strength, choice and autonomy 3. Providers must earn trust 4. Healing happens in relationships 5. Provide holistic care 6. Share power 7. Communicate with compassion 8. Promote safety 9. Respect human rights


SPSN Team at the Capitol

On April 2, some of the Special Needs team went to the Minnesota State Capitol to welcome legislators back from spring break. Right before their spring break, a budget proposal was made to cut $150 million from Health and Human Services funding. Many disability advocates from around the state participated in welcoming the legislators and protesting the proposed cuts. The Special Needs team was fortunate enough to get some time to meet with legislators while at the Capitol. We were able to share some personal stories and repercussions that more cuts would cost our employees and individuals that we serve. We met with Representative Sondra Erickson and with Senator Dave Brown. Both legislators shared that they were surprised by the proposed cuts. This is a time that they can increase spending. To make more cuts to health and human services doesn’t make sense. We are hopeful that our visits were impactful, along with the other disability advocates that were also there to protest the cuts! - Submitted by Jessie Gustafson

SPSN – Sondra Erickson at the capitol - Pictured (left to right): Stacie Haedt, Program Supervisor; Representative Sondra Erickson; Lori Gudim, Program Supervisor; John Ellison, Program Supervisor; and Jessie Gustafson, Office Manager

The deadline for the Wednesday, June 5 issue is Friday, May 24, 2013. Submit your information to Wisconsin Trauma-Informed Care Advisory Committee Trauma-Informed care is positive, respectful, compassionate, helpful, effective, energizing, motivating, exciting, making a difference. - Submitted by Chris Harnack


HOPE Bar None Talent Show One of the annual highlights at Bar None Residential Treatment, the annual talent show, this year featured 16 acts by residents and even one from the staff! The judges, Dawn Hirsch, RN; Shelly Manke, Intake Coordinator; Lea Asmussen, Director of Clinical Services; and Terry Thompson, Residential Treatment Director, recognized two residents and the Meadow View Unit for their talent. CJ Sanderson, Unit Manager (pictured below on the far left), again MC’d the show. Thanks to the following unit managers for the part they played in its success. Morgan Schindler, Meadow View; Ben McClellan, Evergreen; Kevin Palm, Sunrise; Roger Christensen, Stepping Stone; and Linda Pavek, Crisis Response Team.

Bar None 2012 Employee of the Year Steve Wold is an outstanding staff member. You can always count on him to get everything done. Steve acts as our backbone for the ITC building. Steve always makes sure the units have coverage, often making calls trying to find staff for units that are short. He is able to help come up with good answers and solve problems. Steve is always there to listen and to help put a smile on your face. He is dependable and is always aware of everything going on. Steve is respectful, a good listener, open-minded, willing to help, he is a jack-of-all-trades and a team player in every way. Congratulations!

Bar None Awards and Recognition We would like to recognize: Amy Norgren and Sean Anders for their dedication to the Evergreen Unit. Amy took on the position of Senior Case Manager only five months after starting at Bar None and has enthusiastically and creatively adapted to her new responsibilities. She continues to grow as a Residential Counselor and a Senior Case Manager. Sean helped train the Evergreen team in how to build therapeutic relationships, boosted the team’s morale and has a great attitude during shifts. Shelly Manke is an outstanding administrative support person for all of us. She has a heart for our youth and helps ensure admissions go as well as they can. We couldn’t do it without you! - Submitted by Jaime Monson


Linda Pavek is a reliable and dedicated employee. She is able to stay calm and collected over the years despite working in a really high stress field. She has great wisdom and experience and a positive uplifting personality. Linda knows the kids on every unit and has relationships with all of them. She gives all new staff attention in order to help them develop and is always ready to help whoever is in need. Linda is more likely to help problem-solve rather than complain.

Bar None relies on Linda for so many things, many of which go unnoticed, which ultimately helps develop stability and consistency for all. Nicole Argentina has been a wonderful addition to the team. She is organized, helpful and learns quickly. I appreciate the administrative support. - Submitted by Kristin Thomas

HOPE Matt Peterson - January 2013 Bar None Counselor of the Month Matt has shown positive leadership on the Sunrise Unit. Matt has great positive relationships with the Sunrise residents and comes up with many creative activities for the unit. Matt often responds to back-up calls quickly and efficiently showing great de-escalation techniques.

together. They have been running a tight program with tough kids. The agency recognizes all of the hard work the team has done to come together to keep Evergreen running smooth. Evergreen staff are often responding to back-up calls agency wide, providing wonderful support to other units. - Matt Peterson through Evergreen: Submitted by Bar None

Nikki Adams - February 2013 Bar None Counselor of the Month Nikki has been a great team member at Evergreen. She comes into work with a happy, positive, and uplifting personality. Nikki has been great helping out on other units for back-up calls and when other units are short staffed. Nikki has built great relationships with the residents on her unit being a positive female role model.

Brooke Alexander is a solid member of the Omegon Team. She stands firm to the program and holds the Residents accountable for their behavior, using the therapeutic language we learn in team. Brooke has great enthusiasm when working with the residents and other members of the team. Brooke is always asking for feedback and learning ways to how to improve her trauma lens. She seeks to find ways to improve the milieu by updating or making new forms, finding ways to improve interactions with residents and taking the initiative. She has taken a lot of time with training the new team members and becoming a mentor to them. - Submitted by Andrea Hendel

April Harshman - January 2013 Bar None On-Call Counselor of the Month April has taken great initiative on Sunrise by running the Cultural Diversity group. She has been a great team member to work with and even picks up extra shifts. Damont Jones - February 2013 Bar None On-Call Counselor of the Month Damont has been a great CRT team member. He works many weekends and is supportive of every unit. Damont has been a positive role model for residents, and has great relationships with the kids. He is often stopping by the units to say hello to the staff and kids making sure that everything is running smoothly. Bar None appreciates all of his hard work. Stepping Stone - January 2013 Bar None Team of the Month Stepping Stone has once again pulled through during tough times. While short staffed, Stepping Stone has continued to run their program effectively working hard as a team. Stepping Stone has many new staff who are stepping up to the plate and learning the program quickly. Child Care Council would like to present: Evergreen - February 2013 Bar None Team of the Month Evergreen has been a great team working hard

Avanti Center for Girls would like to recognize Megan Braddock, Residential Counselor, as February 2013’s Employee of the Month. Megan is truly a team player. Since starting at Avanti she has shown tremendous growth, balancing her natural personality and relationship-building style with setting clear and consistent limits. Her positive and supportive attitude combined with willingness to problem solve solutions brings energy to the shifts she works. She is receptive to feedback and is willing to work hard for her team, the girls and Avanti. We are so lucky to have Megan on our team. Keep up the good work. - Submitted by Pam Solberg (from all of Avanti Center for Girls) I had a client I was struggling with and Andrew Hachiya volunteered to contact a professional he worked at with another agency to provide some useful strategies and services to utilize with this client. I appreciate Andrew’s willingness to go above and beyond to support my work with this client. - Submitted by Sara Ranssi



CRTC would like to thank Brenda Roth and Rosa Robles. They both recently started as Residential Counselors at CRTC, and are already jumping into situations and intervening like seasoned staff! They are self-starters and quickly began taking on tasks without much coaching. In addition, the kids really connect to them and they seem as if they have been a part of CRTC for forever. We appreciate you both! - Submitted by Jennifer Dynes CORRECTION: Romala Anderson - January 2013 Bar None Employee of the Month (published as “Jennifer Romala”). Romala has been working really hard without a Senior Case Manager, taking on extra tasks and staying late to get the job done. She continues to be dedicated to Meadow View and making sure the residents’ therapeutic needs are being met.

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Thursday, May 9, 2013 You can help raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health by sharing information about trauma and resilience in children. Communities around the country participated last year by holding their own Awareness Day events, focusing either on the national theme, or adapting the theme to the populations they serve. The effort seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health. Positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth.


For more information visit:


Lake Street Community Relations Board Don Bolin, a former resident at the Lake Street Reentry Center was one of four ex-offenders who described their post-incarceration experiences in making a new life -- to the quarterly CRB meeting hosted by Lake Street and attended by more than 50 representatives of community and social justice groups.

Re-entry Wellness Committee Presents: RCC and AMICUS All Staff Picnic An old-fashioned summer picnic for ALL!

Friday, June 28, 2013 from 12:00 - 3:00 pm to be held at Newell Park in St. Paul Midway (Fairview Avenue North & Hewitt Avenue) Please come to celebrate our hard work and welcome our new colleagues at AMICUS Bring yourself, spouses/partners and especially KIDS! Menu: Hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, snow-cone machine, popcorn, chips, pop and water. Activities: Flour sack races, three-legged races, croquet and other games with a grand finale of a tug o’ war. There will be prizes! Questions and RSVPs may be directed to any member of the Wellness Committee: Amy Moore (Lake Street), Kathy Yanari (Roseville), Ken Sohriakoff (Lake Street), Roger Miynczak (Lake Street), Vanessa LaManna (Roseville), Kami Hall (Metro Blvd),

May 2013 VOICES Newsletter  
May 2013 VOICES Newsletter  

Employee Newsletter for Volunteers of America, Minnesota