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.

 

Joshua Haider, Application Support Specialist

What do you do at OP?
I move dots around on computer screens 😉 more specifically, I maintain our case management system and help our staff use it effectively. I troubleshoot issues and create new tools when we need them.

Share a mission moment!
I really enjoyed volunteering at our last Gala, and getting the audience hyped for the auction. It’s encouraging to see so many members of our community who support the people we serve and our staff who are dedicated to supporting them in living meaningful lives.

What do you love about your job at OP?
I like being the answer guy! Tech plays an important role in the background of what we do, and I love figuring out how to make tools and use data to help us improve the way we serve people. Even though I no longer support our people-served directly, I get to support our staff doing that important work.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
If I was being practical, I’d pay for my wedding and house, then squirrel away some savings. But for fun, I’d get my fiancee a Tesla and a couple amazing steak dinners, and buy myself the Sennheiser HE90s – the best headphones in the world!

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
Rock climbing, weight lifting, and hiking in beautiful places. Can’t beat that.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Maybe not exactly something to learn, but I would love to be able to climb 5.14. Watch the “Dawn Wall” documentary if you want a better sense of what that means in terms of difficulty.

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

I have, by my own admission, too many headphones. If you stop by my desk you’ll see several of them. They all sound different and I can’t ever decide which one to listen to- better have them all on hand, just in case!

 

Dawn Timmons, Direct Support Professional

What do you do at OP?
I support persons served in their homes, helping them to be as independent as possible, helping them to make goals, and supporting them in daily living.

Share a mission moment!
Late in the summer of 2020 a person’s served cat Lulu passed away, as her primary staff I was able to support her in her grief process and also in the preparation and purchase of her new cat Oreo. When she lost Lulu she was upset and was expressing feelings of loneliness, but the day that we went to pick up Oreo, she had the biggest smile on her face and her emotional state changed significantly. Being able to do that with her was just a reminder that every thing we do can have a huge impact on persons served.

What do you love about your job at OP?
The pride that people show and express when they set a goal and reach it. When we have worked together towards a specific goal and they make significant progress. I love that! Because it shows them that they are strong, powerful people and their desire to be as independent and safe as possible is being reached.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
Buy a new car, purchase a house, send money to dog/cat rescues. Take care of debt and help others out financially.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
Indoor (movies, puzzles, boardgames/card games) Outdoor (hiking, walking, road trips, nature)

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would love to learn the Polish language (I have been to Poland 4 times)

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

My faith in Christ is of high priority to me and leads me in everything I do, even my work. I am affectionate and love to serve others and bring joy. I am also a musician and have played drums/percussion for over 20 years.

 

Emily McDonald, Finance Specialist

What do you do at OP?
I am responsible for billing for the work done on our production floors and the services that we provide to the people that we support.

Share a mission moment!
I never tire of seeing the pure joy and pride the people we support experience when they meet a personal goal or professional goal, whether they’ve been working on it for a few months or a few years.

What do you love about your job at OP?
I love how meaningful the work we do is. I never leave work wondering how I made a difference because the difference we make every day is evident. The pet policy at our sites is pretty fun, too!

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would donate a significant amount to a few organizations that I believe in, take a rock climbing trip to Patagonia with my fiancé, and save/invest the rest.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
My favorite indoor and outdoor activity is rock climbing. I’m grateful that Minnesota has such an amazing climbing community.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would love to learn Italian and Greek!

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

Fun fact: The only OP setting I have not worked in is Employment Services. I have worked in our Day Programs, Group Homes, and Admin offices. Additionally, I volunteered at an OP Day Program twice a week during my last couple years of high school.

 

Latest Update
August 11, 2021

Greetings from Opportunity Partners! We hope you’ve had a great summer and you’ve been able to enjoy time together with family and friends. It’s hard to believe that fall will be here soon!In this post, you’ll find the latest updates on OP’s health and safety protocols, our services and staffing considerations, and our upcoming Success Celebration! As always, please reach out to us at any time if you have questions or need more information.

Success Celebration! We’re excited to be hosting our first in-person event since the pandemic hit in 2020. Our annual Success Celebration honors the achievements of the people we serve and celebrates everyone who is a part of OP. We’re planning a fun event on Sunday, September 12 from 1-3 pm at the Hyland Hills Chalet in Bloomington. The event is free to attend and light refreshments will be served. Please sign up in advance at http://success-celebration-2021.eventbrite.com.

Health/Safety Protocol: Although we had eased masking requirements at OP locations, we are now back to wearing masks at our OP sites and indoor community locations due to increasing cases of the COVID Delta variant in our community and beyond. We will continue to closely follow recommendations from health officials and will share any additional changes if needed. Thank you for your cooperation.

OP Service Capacity: We still have not been able to accommodate everyone who wants to return to day services. We know this has been challenging for anyone waiting to come back after so much time away. Currently, our efforts are hampered by staffing challenges and transportation limits. If you want to return to services but haven’t yet been in touch with us, please call 952-930-4202 or email services@opportunities.org to have your questions answered.

Staffing: As mentioned above, staff shortages are keeping us from serving everyone that we would like to serve. We are working very hard to hire more people, as is our entire disability services sector and many industries across the board. Some actions we have taken to help include:

1. Hiring a full-time team member to lead our recruitment efforts.
2. Increasing the starting wages of our Direct Support Professionals.
3. Investing in exciting, new marketing strategies to promote our organization and our job openings. These include billboards around the Twin Cities, signs on the backs of our vans, ads in community newspapers and radio, and participation in job fairs.
4. Implementing referral bonuses.

We are excited to have seen some good results from our efforts so far. If you know anyone looking for a direct care job in our sector, please contact us and we will work to find a position that fits. We have great jobs for college students, retirees and anyone looking to gain experience in the health and human services field and make a difference in our community!

Thank you to everyone for remaining so encouraging throughout the challenges over the last year and a half. We hope to see many of you at our September Success Celebration. We are stronger together!

Latest UpdatePrevious UpdatesFull Preparedness PlanLearn more about COVID-19


Previous Updates:


If you would like to learn more about COVID-19, please see the following web sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Minnesota Department of Health: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

As always, if you have questions please contact your OP representative or email info@opportunities.org. Thank you!

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