June 2022
In this issue: CEO update . . . Staff spotlight . . . Community activities . . . Vikings
FurChilds fit interests, Pre-ETS helps him get there
Isaiah wants to become a wolf biologist one day, and ProAct is helping the young man to take the early career and education steps to start working, and refine his goals.

“He wanted a job that involved animals, in particular with dogs,” said ProAct Employment Specialist Cindy Besonnie. Meeting remotely, she assisted with his resume, taught him job seeking skills and together they pursued employment.
Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Placement Coordinator Heather Lindgren said Isaiah, who lives in Shakopee, gained paid work experiences at a movie theater, in retail and at a doggie day care.

An interview at the first pet facility revealed that it was not a good fit, but he continued on. “He grew in confidence,” she said.
From the President and CEO
I would like to express my gratitude to all our staff for their perseverance and commitment over the last two years. ProAct, as with other organizations, has endured difficulties with recruiting and retaining staff, increasing wages, changes in programming and adjusting to the environment our world is in.

While the changes have affected all our staff in administration, case coordinators, employment specialists, direct care, transportation, maintenance and production, those responsible for leading the departments have certainly been challenged.

We are currently serving more than 700 participants with over 45,000 total hours per month. This includes transportation, day services and employment opportunities. Our day services offer a mix of classes that have a variety of focus groups (science, crafts, leisure club, life skills, etc.) These are held both in-center at each location and in the community.
Cross-disability interaction, mutual benefits since 2016
Above, ProAct participants Brittany, left, and Pouran in Eagan.
Many have heard of cross-cultural communication, but few experience communication across disabilities. Even when sensory abilities don’t match, such as sight and hearing, other senses can be called on to carry the message.

That’s the story of Pouran and Brittany, explains Jessica Gruber, employment coordination manager for ProAct. Pouran is deaf. Brittany is blind. They first met at ProAct in 2016.

Rain was threatening one day when the two were joining a group for a park outing. The class decided to go to a museum instead, and the instructor asked if anyone knew sign language. Brittany raised her hand.

The instructor asked her to sign “museum” to Pouran and the two came face to face. Brittany signed the word museum letter by letter as she didn’t know how much sign language Pouran understood, Gruber recalls.

Pouran quickly responded by grabbing Brittany’s hand and signing the words “yes, museum,” also letter by letter. “This started a friendship that endures to this day as the two use American Sign Language to communicate, Gruber explained.
Staff recognition
ProAct honors staff who go above and beyond the call of duty with gifts and recognition. Kudos this spring went to:

Brianna Otto
Dawn Bakken
RaeAnn Knutson
Sue Brownson-Elkomy
By the numbers | May 2022
  • 707 participants served
  • 45,760 hours of service
Connect with us on social media
MVEC electric bill roundups fund basketball setups for Shakopee
Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative customers who chose to round up their bills funded two new basketball hoops for ProAct in Shakopee.

MVEC's Trust/Operation Round Up Board presented $1,128 for the items in an effort to help neighbors and communities while supporting important services.
"Kelly (Flatley- virtual instructor) is doing such an excellent job engaging all the attendees, addressing their interests, bringing laughter and joy to the class. Though a challenge, she is able to joyfully and politely refocus the class when they venture off. Such a stellar employee in the perfect position! Thank all of you for the care & time you give."

-Dian Erickson, Mother of participant Dahni Jo (picture)
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Assembled by Case Coordinator Angela Wittenberg
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD. -more-
Staff spotlight: Red Wing DSP
Each month ProAct in Red Wing highlights a Day Support Services staff member. For May, leaders would like to introduce readers to the site’s newest direct service professional, Natalie Newhart.

Natalie comes with experience working in area residential homes, so she was already acquainted with some of ProAct’s individuals.
Where did you go to high school?
Ellsworth, Wis.
What are your hobbies?
Reading, crocheting, and horror movies.
Do you have any pets?
Two cats and a dog.
Do you have any kids?
No kids.
What is your favorite sport?
Baseball – yes, I’m a Twins fan.
What is your favorite color?
How long have you been here?
This is my third week.
Join our team
Passionate about helping others in the growing human services field? ProAct is hiring. Apply now!
Enrichment program highlights for May
Appreciating Red Wing heroes
Participants at ProAct in Red Wing have many people around who help them throughout the year. “Heroes in our Community” were identified- doctors and nurses, fire and rescue workers, police officers, bus drivers, and community education staff. People at ProAct decided to make sure they know they are appreciated. “We created large thank you cards and then either delivered them or had them come visit us,” said Case Coordinator Gloria Solsaa. -more-
Vikings Museum draws ProAct people from multiple sites
Purple and gold were the colors of the day – ProAct in Red Wing is located on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River, across from Wisconsin. That makes for some good-natured rivalries when it comes to football. “Many of us ‘bleed purple’ when it comes to football and enjoyed a trip to Eagan to the Minnesota Vikings Museum,” said Case Coordinator Gloria Solsaa. Participants from Eagan and Shakopee also joined in. -more-
Busy with trees, birds, garden
Earth Week and Arbor Day activities were educational, as ProAct in Red Wing applied for some free trees and 10 arrived. Staff and participants planted them behind the facility and are hopeful that they will provide some needed shade in years to come. -more-
Star Wars, horse racing, Cancun, painting and paper airplane day?
Star Wars fans in Shakopee came out to celebrate a fun day wearing movie themed T-Shirts, playing trivia, participating in an activity sheet, and creating their own Yoda! When walking about, people heard the Star Wars Soundtrack, and were asked for their favorite track. Fake light saber fights were a favorite, said Shakopee Day Support Services Manager Ali Brown.
As participants and staff walked around on this holiday, there was a feel like Cancun, Mexico with fun music and sombreros. “We learned about why Cinco De Mayo is celebrated while enjoying a snack of Doritos and Margaritas, alcohol free of course,” Brown explained. -more-
Auto Show, parks, Burnsville Center bring experiences, variety
Viewing fast cars, window shopping and taking in beautiful park scenery. -more-
In case you missed it - ProAct was featured in a video made for its state organization, MOHR, which presented the nonprofit with a Life Enrichment Award.
ProAct, Inc. | 651-686-0405 | proactinc.org