Kraus-Anderson shares successes

During April’s Autism Awareness Month, Kraus-Anderson interviewed two of their employees about their experiences.

JAKE O’CONNOR AND KRYSTAL BURTON WORKING ON JOB CLOSEOUTS.

Jake O’Connor and Krystal Burton working on job closeouts.

Both individuals received job placement assistance through Opportunity Partners, and we are pleased to share their insights in this month’s blog post.

Thank you to Kraus-Anderson for their leadership over the years in hiring employees with diverse skills and abilities.

Read the full story here. 

OP rallies at Capitol for improved funding

About 40 persons served and staff representing Opportunity Partners headed to the State Capitol on March 12 for the annual Disability Services Day. They were among an estimated 1,000 individuals, employees, families and advocates who gathered to rally, meet with legislators and speak out for changes in the sector.

More competitive wages for Direct Support Professionals to help with the severe workforce shortage, more sustainable funding for the future and many other issues were among the topics discussed.

Attendees waved signs stating “DSP – Darn Skilled Professionals,” “Support your Supports,” “Value Talent,” and “No More Cuts!”

Individuals served by OP’s hoMEbase apartment program in Coon Rapids met with Sen. Jerry Newton (District 37) to discuss the high turnover of staff due to low wages in the field.

One of the people served, Jessica, also told Sen. Newton about her challenges with prompt transportation to get to standing appointments each week. She has found some taxis to be unreliable, and said it causes stress on staff because they are already supporting other people who then have to adjust their schedules at the last minute because the taxi did not show up.

Katie Bronson, Assistant Program Manager at hoMEbase, said visiting the Capitol was a great experience for the individuals she supports.

“They all said they look forward to going next year and speaking up about better funding for the services they are provided on a daily basis,” Katie said.

Individuals from OP’s Asplin Center in Plymouth met with Rep. Ginny Klevorn (District 44A), sharing stories about their experiences with services. Becky talked about not making enough money, and Craig discussed his concern over the past 7 percent cut and high staff turnover.

In all, individuals enjoyed experiencing the high energy of the Capitol and look forward to continuing to talk with lawmakers about the importance of Home and Community-based Services for people with disabilities.

The House, Senate, Governor and Best Life Alliance have all put forward legislative proposals that:

  • Implement a Competitive Workforce Factor to address the 17 percent wage disparity between disability services wages and wages of occupations competing for the same workers.
  • Adjust the timing of the scheduled rate adjustments to every two years to better keep pace with actual economic conditions.

Learn more about disability services legislation being discussed at the Capitol.

Winning button design from OP-Asplin

Congratulations to Faith Hanson, who attends Opportunity Partners-Asplin Center, for submitting a winning button design in a contest put on by trade association ARRM. Faith’s design was one of two that were chosen for the buttons given to hundreds of advocates at Disability Services Day at the Capitol on March 12.

Faith did a great job creating a colorful and inclusive design! The other winning design was submitted by Quinn Metcalf of MRCI.

Each year, Asplin Center hosts an art show for persons served, families and staff to showcase the beautiful art and photography from individuals who practice their skills in classes at Asplin Center.

Read more about the button artwork in ARRM’s blog post.

Staff making a difference

Together, we are better.

We love our staff! Earlier this month, we held our annual employee recognition event at our Asplin Center in Plymouth to celebrate our amazing staff, enjoy a delicious buffet, give away more than 100 prizes, and acknowledge four employees with special awards. Thank you to all of our staff who are making a difference each day in advancing the quality of life for people with disabilities.

This year, instead of one Employee of the Year, we gave out awards based on our organizational values of Impact, Choice, Heart and Partnership. Each winner received a glass award and a check for $250.

Holly Schuffenhauer and President & CEO Armando Camacho

Holly Schuffenhauer and President & CEO Armando Camacho

President & CEO Armando Camacho, Christine Wagner, Rebekah Wold and Jonathan Solie

President & CEO Armando Camacho, Christine Wagner, Rebekah Wold and Jonathan Solie

Impact Award – Generating solutions that make a difference. The Impact Award was presented to Jonathan Solie, Associate Director of Service Innovation.

  • Jonathan has worked in many different roles including an instructor in the Brain Injury program and manager for the BI and the Spectrum programs. He consistently strives for excellence and creates a climate of continuous improvement while also mentoring other managers and staff to lead and inspire others. He has left a lasting impact on every person he has encountered and will continue to do so in his new role.
  • Jonathan encourages his staff to pursue their career goals and helps ensure his staff have the resources they need to succeed.
  • Because of his expertise with Brain Injury, Jonathan has come up with tools and resources to help persons served meet their goals. His intuition and wisdom have helped staff create better dialogues with persons served about whatever issue or situation they are dealing with.

Choice Award – Creating opportunities for people to lead self-directed lives. The Choice Award was presented to Holly Schuffenhauer.

  • Holly is a direct support professional in our Anoka Semi Independent Living Services (SILS).
  • Holly encourages the people she works with to self-direct their programs and learn. An example is when she took over the planning a weekly group activity. She talked to the people served and asked them about their ideas. She then had them work together to create a calendar for the activity. Now they figure out plans and activities with minimal staff assistance.
  • Holly encourages people to explore and challenge themselves without stepping in and doing it for them. This method of working with our people pushes them to direct their choices and learn in real world settings.

Heart Award – promoting the dignity and worth of each other. The Heart Award was presented to Christine Wagner.

  • Christine is currently the Program Manager for Gunderson and Morgan residences.
  • She tirelessly provides alternative ways to think around a problem or situation, keeping an open mind and being proactive so that everyone around her has time to adjust to anything that comes our way in the house. She has led by example when it comes to being person-centered. She is always willing to listen and encourages options for our residents. She always encourages staff and the residents to advocate for themselves.
  • She is very aware of the feelings and emotions of everyone she comes in contact with. She breeds the atmosphere of celebrating success and taking interest in everyone that comes into the house. She is the heart of Morgan house.

Partnership Award – facilitating change through relationships, collaboration and advocacy. The Partnership Award was presented to Rebekah Wold.

  • Rebekah works as a Lead Service Coordinator at Koch Campus.
  • She has been facilitating the person-served Advocacy group, COAL, at Koch Campus. The group works on building relationships, collaborating with other community groups, and promoting self-advocacy.
  • She has an awesome attitude and makes time to work with COAL on special activities like a yearly food drive. COAL is important in changing our culture at OP and ensuring the self-advocacy movement continues to grow. Rebekah has such a gift for supporting this group in their endeavors. She’s a special woman.

Congratulations to all of our amazing staff! Want to join our team? Check out our job listings at opportunities.org/careers/current-openings/

 

 

Valentine’s Day Dance

Brought to you by COAL, Committee of Advocacy & Leadership.

What: Valentine’s Day Dance with refreshments and appetizers

When: Friday, February 15 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Opportunity Partners Koch Campus Cafeteria
5500 Opportunity Court Minnetonka, MN 55343

Cost: $5.00 at the door

Note: Staff escorts are required to support self-advocates per their individual needs.

With questions, contact Samantha Kam at skam@opportunities.org

 

 

 

 

Opportunity Partners closed on Thursday, April 11

Due to the snow and expected road conditions today, all Opportunity Partners day/program locations are closed today, Thursday, April 11. Community job sites may be open; individuals should check in with their staff or supervisor regarding their specific situation.

Thank you and stay safe!

2019 Spaghetti Dinner

plate of spaghetti

You are invited to the 15th Annual Spaghetti Dinner sponsored by the Hopkins Noontime Lions Club!

Come enjoy spaghetti with meatballs or meatless sauce, salad, bread, dessert and a beverage. Takeout is also available.

When: Thursday, March 7, 2019, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: 5500 Opportunity Court, Minnetonka
Cost: Adults: $8, Children Under 12: $5, Families of 5 or more: $35

A Promise of We

Together, we are better. 

A popular quote from the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone is “We all do better when we all do better.”

Yes, yes, yes!

At Opportunity Partners, we’re kicking off 2019 with the phrase “A Promise of We.” What is “A Promise of We”? To us, a Promise of We means that together, we can make a difference.

Together, we are better.

After all, Opportunity Partners has been around since 1953 and we’ve always collaborated with people with disabilities, families, staff, donors, businesses, volunteers, and our entire community to meet our mission of advancing the quality of life for people with disabilities. We must continue to work together to keep moving forward.

We cannot progress with an “us versus them” mentality. We are in this together. We all do better when we all do better.

That is the Promise of We.

Looking ahead to a strong 2019
2018 was a year of transformation for Opportunity Partners. Budget cuts and regulatory changes meant we needed to make some difficult decisions around some of our programs that were no longer financially sustainable. Sunsetting programs affects real people and is never easy. However, I’m pleased that although we closed some of our smaller programs, a number of the impacted individuals were able to transfer into other Opportunity Partners programs. We vow to keep working hard to make our programs the very best they can be, and I thank you for your support during these changes.

Legislative session now underway
The 2019 Minnesota Legislative session began on January 8. Our primary goal this year in working with the nonpartisan disability advocacy group Best Life Alliance is to enact reforms that will help address the severe workforce shortage and stabilize rates for disability services. You can help by contacting your legislators to urge them to prioritize services for people with disabilities. Learn more by emailing info@opportunities.org. We’ll be at the Capitol on March 12 for a rally and meetings with lawmakers. Join us if you can!

Mark your calendar – April 27
Our annual Opportunity Partners Gala is Saturday, April 27. This is the fifth year that we’ve held our largest fundraiser at our Koch Campus in Minnetonka, and I urge you to attend this very special event. It is amazing to see the transformation of our production floor to a stunning event venue and to hear some incredibly inspiring success stories. I hope you can attend and support us at this very important event. Learn more at opportunities.org/gala.

Written by Armando Camacho, President & CEO, Opportunity Partners

Rally with us on March 12

Join us for Disability Services Day at the Capitol, when more than 1,000 direct care staff, self-advocates, families and community members converge on the Minnesota State Capitol to urge lawmakers to prioritize disability services. Attendees from across the state will attend a 10 a.m. rally, followed by meetings with legislators.

This year’s legislative agenda being introduced by the disability advocacy group Best Life Alliance seeks to stabilize rates for disability services and take steps to address the severe workforce shortage in our industry. View the Best Life Alliance hand out.

Learn more about the issues on the Advocacy tab at arrm.org. Join our advocacy efforts by contacting info@opportunities.org or 952-930-4208.

Attend OP’s 2019 Gala!

Join us for our annual gala to benefit Opportunity Partners.

The gala will be held Saturday, April 27, 2019 at our Koch Campus in Minnetonka.

The gala is our largest and most important fundraiser of the year. Nearly 500 family members, donors, business partners and industry leaders attended in 2018.


Schedule

5:30 p.m. Reception, Silent Auction
7:00 p.m. Dinner, Live Auction & Fund-an-Opportunity

View Live Auction Items

Unable to attend the event?

You can make an absentee gift that counts toward the total raised at the gala!

Donate to the Gala

Together, we can make a difference!


You are an important part of our success

Because of you, we are celebrating 65 years of success and looking forward to a strong future of advancing the quality of life for people with disabilities. We can do so much more, thanks to you!

Heather thanks you. Because of you, Heather gives back to her community in so many ways. Your support provides us the resources we need to help many people, including Heather. Heather never lets her disability slow her down. Her strong work ethic shows as she builds her resume with jobs at Opportunity Partners and in the community. As a proud member of COAL, our self-advocacy group, she participates in food drives and anti-bullying efforts. She also improves our community by volunteering at her church and at a senior care center.

Ginny thanks you. Ginny has a smile for everyone she meets. Your support means we can continue to help people like Ginny who have experienced a brain injury in their lives. Ginny shows compassion and positivity toward others in a way that touches our hearts. Her optimistic spirit and amazing sense of humor lifts up those around her. When she sees her peers struggling, Ginny takes the time to ask what is wrong and lends a listening ear and her comforting presence. Ginny is making a difference each day with her kind and caring personality.

Mark and his mom Patricia thank you. Thanks to your support, Mark has found Opportunity Partners to be a safe and welcoming place to call his village. Mark cannot read, write or speak. Opportunity Partners gives him a place to work in a safe, consistent and supervised environment and to take classes focused on life skills. “Opportunity Partners has provided Mark a community in which he can grow, learn and contribute,” his mom Patricia said. “Mark looks forward to going each day and I feel blessed that they support adults like Mark with special needs.”

This holiday season, you can help us continue to change even more lives. Your gift supports people like Heather, Ginny and Mark. Your gift supports community. Here are just a few examples of what your gift can do:

  • $50 pays for a cooking activity at one of our residences
  • $100 covers one semester of art supplies for a Learning Options class
  • $250 provides cultural opportunities, such as fees for a music class
  • $500 helps with technology skills, such as taking a computer class to build work skills
  • $1,000 provides groceries for one month at one of our residences
  • $2,500 increases independent living by helping with costs to install new technology in one of our residences

Our fiscal year ends on December 31. Make a difference today by making a gift online.

Together, we are better.

Written by Brie Geurink, CFRE, Vice President of Advancement

A Season of Gratitude

As we enter the holiday season, we are so thankful for the wonderful people we serve, their families, our caring, hard-working staff, and everyone who supports Opportunity Partners.

To reflect on gratitude at OP, we asked people we serve to let us know what they are thankful for. Here are some of their responses! (some posts were edited for length and clarity).


“I am thankful for my family that adopted me out of the orphanage in Ukraine. I am also thankful for our military and for trying to fight for our freedoms. I am also thankful for all the hard work that Opportunity Partners does every day.” – Julia

“I am thankful for my nephew, makes me happy and family, money.” – Kayla

“My family, kind people, simple pleasures like hockey games, ice cream and pop machines, and my Opportunity Partners team and friends.” – Mark

“Family, friends, pets, job, food, playing video games and watching movies, going bowling, eating.” – Derek

“ … Family and friends and Arby’s … I cannot wait for Thanksgiving day.” – Michelle

“For having good friends, for my family and my sisters, being alive, good health, for my staff.” – Bill


“I am thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for Gretchen because she’s like a sister to me. I am thankful for my dad … I am thankful for life because I can’t wait to move out of my house and my parents are letting me do it and making it happen.”
– Laura

“Mom, dad, my brother, aunt and uncle.” – Pat

“I am thankful for Culver’s and family and friends.” – Jake

“I am thankful for dog, music, Jon, mom.” – Kirsten

“I am thankful for my family and friends. I’m thankful for my cousin John. I’m also thankful that God has blessed me in so many different ways.” – David

“I’m thankful for a place to live and food to eat and a community to socialize with.” – Yohan

“I’m thankful to travel to Cleveland with family.” – Zach

“Kids and friends.” – Brandon

“Learning and friends at Opportunity Partners.” – Raymond

“Family because I love them.” – Bobby

“I am thankful for my house, my family, my friends …” – Lacy

“Good weather, good health, making new friends, my family, day program, my job at General Mills.” – Jessica

“My magic boxes and my karate stuff …” – Josh

“Friends they’re nice and helpful.” – Matt

“Family, my health, Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, roommate, nature, TV, music.” – Bonnie

“For staff, bring me to church concerts, spending time with my family …” – Jessica

 


 

Thank you for helping us meet our goal!

Together, we raised more than $33,000 to support our mission of advancing the quality of life for people with disabilities. Our world is enriched when we accept and include all. Your generous support means even more people can experience the dignity of work, the comforts of home, and opportunities to enjoy life surrounded by family, friends, co-workers and a community that cares.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude by the outpouring of support from friends like you.

Together, we can make a difference!

My Three P’s of Philanthropy

Cyndi Lesher, Opportunity Partners Board of Directors

October 22, 2018

By Cyndi Lesher, Opportunity Partners Board of Directors

I’ve been involved with Opportunity Partners in one way or another for 46 years! For me, it’s personal, a privilege and a priority.

Cyndi Lesher, Opportunity Partners Board of Directors

It’s personal. I started my career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor working at Minneapolis Rehab Center. I referred clients to Opportunity Partners (then called Opportunity Workshop) because it was the best organization for people with disabilities. I also met Dennis, a vocational evaluator there who also referred clients to Opportunity Workshop. I later married him. So, I started my career working in rehab, met my husband and discovered my favorite nonprofit all about the same time. It’s been a love affair with Dennis and Opportunity Partners ever since — 46 years and going strong!

It’s a privilege because I believe so strongly in Opportunity Partners’ mission. What could be more important than impacting and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities? We are all, most simply, human. We all want to feel valued, contribute in whatever way we can, love, be loved and feel we matter.

Anyway and anytime I can be part of that, I’m privileged to do so. That’s why I give my time, money and expertise and have for 46 years. I’ve been a volunteer, a Board of Directors member, Board chair and Opportunity Partners advocate. It’s a privilege.

And, it’s a priority for me and my family because of the high impact work we do. I have a direct opportunity to participate in life-changing work. Remember, philanthropy is not just about giving money. It’s also about giving time, energy, attending events and being an advocate for Opportunity Partners’ mission. If not ME, if not YOU, then who?

If you’d like to support Opportunity Partners, consider making a gift on Minnesota’s largest day of charitable giving – Give to the Max Day – on November 15. Gifts can also be made any time online through opportunities.org/donate/. Thank you for your generosity!

In addition to serving as an Opportunity Partners Board of Directors member and chair of the organization’s Advancement Committee, Cyndi is the retired CEO of NSP, an Xcel Energy Co.

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Driskill’s employees featured on KARE 11’s Breaking the News

October 9, 2018

In case you missed it, OP was in the news for National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

KARE 11’s Heidi Wigdahl visited Driskill’s Downtown Market in Hopkins to chat with some of their employees we support!

How to get started

An Opportunity Partners representative is ready to answer your questions or discuss the many ways we can partner with you. Get started today