Patrick Gambill-Read, Support Coordinator II

What do you do at OP?
I support people in learning and practicing job skills while earning money and increasing their independence.

Share a mission moment!
One time when I was working on-call in residential, I arrived to find one of my people served on their way out for a walk. I encouraged them, as it was a beautiful day and they were clearly excited about the goal they had set for their walk. Although I later discovered that other staff and management were surprised and a little worried that the person had set out to walk that far independently, the smile on the person’s face and the pride in their voice when they returned triumphantly from that walk touched all of us, staff and people served alike.

What do you love about your job at OP?
Working with a great team and feeling supported by management and coworkers.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
Probably replace my car, which is now held together by bungee cords and duct tape. Then, road trip with my family.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
Cooking, reading nonfiction, Words with Friends, hanging with two-legged and four-legged family.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I quit running a few years ago following an ankle injury and surgery, and I miss it a lot. I’d love to relearn running, or learn another activity that would bring some of the same physical and mental benefits.

Anything else you would like to share?
I do voiceovers for our four cats, each of whom also has their own song.

 

Lisa Marie Hindes, Employment Support Coach

What do you do at OP?
I provide Employment Development Support for our individuals to find and obtain employment in the community. I also provide Employment Support to our individuals, in the community, for them to maintain their employment.

Share a mission moment!
An individual I support obtained a position at a grocery store. They were super excited for their new position. I was able to assist with their new hire forms and communicate with their supervisor. My individual called me after their shift, to inform me they love their new job and very appreciative of the support they received.

What do you love about your job at OP?
I love working with the individuals we support and finding community employment, so they may achieve in their daily lives.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
If I won the lottery, I would travel to another country, such as Italy. I would ensure my family’s financial needs were secured for their future.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
My favorite indoor activity is watching movies and reading. My favorite outdoor activity is riding my motorcycle, fishing, and boating.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
If I could learn to do anything, it would be sailing in the ocean.

Anything else you would like to share?
I’m looking forward to enjoying the recently purchased cabin with my family.

 

Dale Hall, Worker Production TK

What do you do at OP?
My job title is Worker Production TK as I report to the Penn Station location. I process all kinds of orders from chipboard, polybags, corrugated cardboard and filters that has to do with refrigerated products with Thermo King after market.

Share a mission moment!
As a member of the Thermo King team at Penn Station, I am focused to do my job efficiently as this is part of the company that brings money to Opportunity Partners. This brings me satisfaction as I am able to meet other people where they are at in life.

What do you love about your job at OP?
One of the things I like about what I do is the fact that I’m focused on many tasks at hand. There are many details that needs to be done in a sequential manner from the initial paperwork to putting boxes on pallets. This enables time to go by faster.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would take the proceeds immediately and put it into monthly dividend stocks. Then I use these funds as a means to travel across the US after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
My favorite indoor activity is playing water volleyball with other members at the Y.  Looking forward for the restrictions to be lifted so I can enjoy the camaraderie of the group.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I like to compose classical style of music. Many times people may have already have a mind set of what classical music is. I would like to learn how to inspire people to look at it in a different way using simple means of personal experiences. It is a medium that can express both happiness and sadness simultaneously.

 

Alexis Boxer, Development and Events Coordinator

What do you do at OP?
I work with the advancement department on fundraising, event planning and developing the volunteer program.

Share a mission moment!
I am pretty new but getting to know the folks that work at OP and seeing the Advancement team in action coordinating the Gala has been a really nice introduction to life at Opportunity Partners.

What do you love about your job at OP?
I am really excited to be developing and launching our volunteer program. I believe in building and supporting community and I believe bringing the energy and efforts of volunteers into our work will make OP stronger and creating lasting relationships between staff, people served and the greater community.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
I’m a millennial, I would pay off debt.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
I love gardening! I love being outdoors in the warmer months and being able to cultivate and tend to nature is such a gift!

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Play the banjo. Or code.

Anything else you would like to share?
I am an East Coast transplant and it is a shame that you can’t find a good bagel or NY style pizza around here.

Construction is now complete of Opportunity Partners-Doug’s Place group home in New Hope, which replaced our residence destroyed by fire in 2019. We especially want to thank Denali Custom Homes in Wayzata and their team of dozens of subcontractors who generously donated a portion of supplies and labor to rebuild the house.

The residence, home to three adults with disabilities, was destroyed by a mid-day fire in June 2019. No one was seriously injured in the fire, although an Opportunity Partners employee heroically helped a resident who was home at the time to leave the house safely.

Denali Custom Homes Founder/President David Bieker was particularly interested in helping OP with the rebuild. He has an adult son with special needs and sees the difficulties people can face in finding suitable housing to age in place. In addition to the contributions from Denali and its subcontractors, many friends of Opportunity Partners donated more than $49,000 to the organization after the fire.

The spacious four-bedroom, more accessible residence will be home to four women with disabilities. When touring the house recently for the first time, they were excited as they checked out the new washer and dryer, wall-mounted TVs, and large pantry in a modern, white kitchen.

Doug’s Place is named for OP’s long-time Residential staff member Doug Annett, who worked for OP for 23 years and was instrumental in growing the organization’s Residential options for people with disabilities to include group homes, supported apartment programs and community living services.

May 6, 2021

Community members in New Hope rallied together to help rebuild the non-profit’s group home after a fire destroyed it.

Opportunity Partners held a ribbon-cutting event for the new structure. The organization advances the quality of life for people with disabilities and this new home will support four women.

“We’re so grateful for the community that stepped up to help us after that fire. The gentlemen that lived there, we were able to move to a house in Robbinsdale and get them settled,” President and CEO of Opportunity Partners, Bill Schultz, said.

“The community stepped up with donations to help replace their belongings, also gives us contributions to help rebuild this house.”

The project came together after Denali Custom Homes donated a portion of the supplies and labor to rebuild the house.

Read article on the KSTP 5 website

May 5, 2021

A New Hope group home that helps people with disabilities live independently is celebrating a new beginning. Doug’s Place was destroyed by fire in 2019. Nearly two years later, the residence was rebuilt.

Minnetonka-based nonprofit Opportunity Partners runs the group home and was able to raise enough funds for the project. But economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 had put the project in doubt.

“At the time we were debating if we should build the house because with COVID our operations really shut down other than our residential services,” said Bill Schultz, president and CEO of Opportunity Partners. “We didn’t know about the financial viability and being able to afford to build this house.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Tuesday to celebrate Doug’s Place, named after Doug Annett, who contributed 23 years of service to Opportunity Partners.

Besides residential support, Opportunity Partners helps with job training and employment to help people live independently.

Read article on CCX Media’s website

May 12, 2021

Representatives of nonprofit organization Opportunity Partners and Denali Custom Homes met May 4 to celebrate the completion of a New Hope group home on Ensign Avenue. Two years ago, the home was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin.

To complete the project, Denali and dozens of subcontractors donated materials and labor to rebuild the home. Founder and President David Bieker agreed to provide and organize much of the work pro bono because available housing for vulnerable adults is personally important to him; Bieker helped his adult son with special needs get placed into suitable housing, which can be a difficult process.

Aside from the pro bono work, Opportunity Partners raised $49,000 in donations to build the home.

Four adults with disabilities have been placed in the new home, which has been named Doug’s Place, after long-time residential staff member Doug Annett. According to Opportunity Partners, Annett worked for the organization for 23 years and was instrumental in growing residential options for people with disabilities to include group homes, supported apartment programs and community living services.

Read the article on the Sun Post website.

 

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and Opportunity Partners is pleased to offer services that help people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) achieve goals, develop relationships and improve their communication skills. 

Opportunity Partners serves adults with ASD throughout its locations and residential services in the Twin Cities, and its Karlins Center in Plymouth offers specialized supports especially designed for adults with autism and similar disabilities. Karlins Center offers licensed day enrichment and community engagement options including volunteer opportunities, sensory and social skills building, and engaging activities like computer, music, cooking, games, art and more.  

Eddie West has attended OP at Karlins Center since 2013, where he’s enjoyed doing light packaging, working on puzzles, solving math problems, and going bowling or to local parks. Staff noted that while Eddie was extremely routine-based in the past, he has adapted very well to the changing routines that COVID-19 has brought about, including wearing a face covering. “He’s able to transition very well and needs less processing time,” added Margaret Schmitz, his support coordinator. 

Opportunity Partners is excited to participate in the AuSM’s state autism conference, “Inform, Influence, Innovate Together,” which will be held online April 21-24, and will feature dozens of breakout sessions, virtual exhibit booths, autism resources, and keynote speakers. 

According to the CDC, in 2020 approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

  • 1 in 34 boys identified with autism. 
  • 1 in 144 girls identified with autism. 
  • Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. 
  • Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. 

 

Jacob Williams, Support Coordinator

What do you do at OP?
I lead a full day class at the Bren Road location.

Share a mission moment!
We took a trip to the Como Zoo and everyone had so much fun watching the penguins swim and play!

What do you love about your job at OP?
I love spending time with great people and supporting them to have fun in class.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would start an organization for justice.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
I love playing cards and board games with friends and family.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
How to stop procrastinating!

 

Liz Clark, Community Engagement Specialist

What do you do at OP?
I bring a small group out into the community every day. We go to museums, parks, libraries, and volunteer at Feed My Starving Children and Meals on Wheels.

Share a mission moment!
After being stuck inside for so long because of Covid-19, it is striking how excited everyone is to be able to get outside and safely see friends.

What do you love about your job at OP?
I get to be part of one of the most caring, inclusive communities I have ever known.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would travel anywhere and everywhere (when it is safe), then save the rest.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
I love food and music. Concerts, restaurants, ideally some combination of the two.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
It’s tied between learning a new language or playing the guitar.

Anything else you would like to share?
I was born and raised in Hopkinton, MA (the start of the Boston Marathon)!

 

Tony Meyer, Assistant Program Manager

What do you do at OP?
I assist residents in all areas of daily living, while encouraging independence and community inclusion. I provide support to the Program Manager so that services are consistent. I also assist with scheduling and ensure policies and procedures are being followed at all times.

What do you love about your job at OP?
The flexibility and to help make a difference in people’s lives.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would help out family.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
Indoor – Movies/Gamer, Outdoor – Tubing on the lake

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would learn video game design!

Anything else you would like to share?
I know Sign Language and it is my favorite way to communicate with people.

 

Julie Magel, Employment Specialist

What do you do at OP?
I work with individuals who are employed out in the community. I visit and support them with setting employment goals, communication with their employers, trainings, and problem-solving in general with their employment needs or concerns.

Share a mission moment!
I worked with an individual who was on his last set of warnings by his employer. We built a plan to meet monthly with his manager to work on retaining his job. This helped the employer keep the individual working there and the individual was able to build a team relationship with his manager. I was able to support them both to have a positive work experience together.

What do you love about your job at OP?
I love my Vocational Services team! They work together and are cohesive with providing services to our Extended Employment/Job Development groups!

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
First thing I would do if I won the lottery is secure trusts for my children. I would like to take care of those that were there for me. After that, I would travel and donate to my favorite charities.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
Since the pandemic, my family and I have really dove in to cooking by ordering Hello Fresh a couple times a month, preparing recipes, and doing family game night.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Scuba Diving

Anything else you would like to share?
I have two incredible children, Cassandra and Jacob. I could be anywhere in the world, but wherever they are, it’s home to me.

 

Your support means we can help Sam reach new goals! 

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month 

Sam joined Opportunity Partners in 2012 after a devastating car accident two years earlier that resulted in a brain injury. Sam was in the hospital for two months and in a rehabilitation center for six months, as she relearned how to do all her basic functions.   

“The accident damaged my vision and my right side is slower and harder to use,” Sam said. “It helps to use my walker to be safe. My family taught me how to be a strong and successful survivor. It’s important to make good decisions and choose properly.”  

At Opportunity Partners’ Bren Road Service Center, which offers specialized brain injury services, Sam works on the Production floor doing light packaging. Pre-COVID-19, she also participated in enrichment activities. “Being at OP is good because I have a job and I’m around good people,” Sam said. “My job helps me to focus properly. I like coming to OP since it helps me get out of the house and work at a job.”  

Earning money and having a purpose are important to Sam. “It makes me feel great doing something good,” she said, adding that her favorite work project is packaging camping mirrors.  

Sam looks forward to participating in enrichment activities again soon. “I liked seeing people out in the community, and I was able to learn something new,” she said. “I enjoyed when we toured different museums.”  

OP’s brain injury services help people rediscover the world after experiencing a brain injury. Whether it is mastering new skills, living more independently, or working individually or as part of team, individuals can increase their ability to lead a fulfilling life. Our goal is to transition people from our services back into the community and employment. To enhance these efforts, we have aligned our programs to build natural steps toward reaching that goal. 

OP typically supports more than 50 people with brain injury, although the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in fewer numbers of people currently being served.  

Learn more at https://opportunities.org/individuals/services-overview/brain-injury-services/ 

 

Brianna Dawson, SET Coordinator

What do you do at OP?
I work with persons served at a Boston Scientific in Maple Grove and hope to again soon at Arden Hills once Covid has passed.

Share a mission moment!
My mission is to help people served grow and work in the community with hopes of one day seeing them be able to work independently.

What do you love about your job at OP?
Seeing the growth and development in persons served along with them interact with people in the community.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
Donate some and invest some for the future.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
Learning about history and geography!

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Speak many other languages well.

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