April 2022
In this issue: SMART goals . . . Down syndrome at ProAct . . . Program highlights
Energized by social interaction at work in Cannon Falls
The happiness of a steady smile and positive attitude coupled with on-the-job enjoyment, increased confidence and independence are the ideal and real outcomes found with Connor R. at Casey’s General Store in Cannon Falls.

“Connor enjoys the balance of working and having fun while he works,” said employment specialist Brianna Otto. His mother, Melissa, drops him off at work and picks him up. When she asks him how his day went, his answer is always the same, “Awesome.”

Otto helped with Connor’s job search and provides the support he needs to work about 20 hours per week. Hired to help in the kitchen, Connor preps food, including pizzas and sub sandwiches as well as sweets. -more-
By the numbers | March 2022
  • 707 participants served
  • 48,192 hours of service
Better life through Virtual Enrichment Services
A swivel camera tracks Tony Judd as he moves around a room at his Prior Lake home engaging virtually among others with disabilities from ProAct.

“The best thing ProAct could have ever done for Tony and others is create Virtual Enrichment classes,” said Carol Murray, Judd’s guardian and caregiver, who lives in a separate level of the same house.

On starting out, he was shy and she would answer questions for him. When some others wouldn’t listen, he’d shut down and stop talking, Murray said. (don't miss ProAct's on-camera interview with Murray and Judd) -more- | -watch-
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Moving strategic plan forward with SMART goals
By VP Kim Feller

ProAct utilizes the SMART goal model to develop, implement, act on, and accomplish programing goals. SMART goals are not a new concept, having been introduced to the workplace in 1968.

The model helps program leaders appropriately set achievable goals and has a framework that, when followed, leads them to accomplishing those goals through a set-by-step process. It’s a wonderful tool for leaders, new and seasoned!

Practical uses

Recent SMART goal themes here have included ProAct’s move to its new Shakopee service location in November 2021, and building a revenue model for programs with “billable” outcome-based services.

SMART goals are also developed to enhance the skillsets of the staff ultimately to better serve and understand the disabilities of the individuals ProAct serves. Because of COVID-19, staff roles and responsibilities have changed and will continue to change.

Adapting to new realities

For example, direct service professionals who supervised community job sites are now teaching enrichment classes. DSPs primarily serving participants living with traumatic brain injuries are also now serving participants diagnosed with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and vice versa.

ProAct Senior Program Manager Stephanie Osman quickly realized that ongoing training and education was crucial in order to empower the team to confidently provide quality services to all participants, no matter their disability diagnosis.

Stephanie describes the overwhelming feeling of this task: How should this be organized and where to start? Who has the time? Why is it relevant and for how long?

With her SMART goal template in place, she developed a 12-month staff training calendar to help her identify training topics, coordinate the training sessions and provide go-to materials as takeaways from each session.

“I truly believe knowledge is power,” Stephanie explains. “And, a SMART goal was necessary to keep me on track to ensure that my team receives the tools needed to provide the most efficient and quality services to ProAct participants.”

Stephanie’s SMART goal holds her to a promise of sorts; she dedicates Friday mornings to research and schedule her biweekly trainings for staff. “It’s been great listening to the staff as they engage and offer their expertise and thoughts on each topic and the approaches they need to have in their pocket, so to speak.”

The 'Big 3'

The first three trainings focused on what Stephanie refers to as “The Big 3,” traumatic brain injury, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and mental illness. She explained to her team that these are the three main areas that the majority of disabilities that are on the schedule fall into.

Stephanie’s SMART goal will continue throughout the calendar year and future topics include Parkinson’s, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, cerebral palsy, autism, and many more. A huge benefit as a result of this particular SMART Goal is that the trainings are conducted remotely, so staff from all ProAct sites can join in and participate.

“It’s been an amazing way to connect and share experiences among different team members, and realize that whether we’re in Eagan, Shakopee, Red Wing or Hudson, we all have a common goal in carrying out ProAct’s Mission.”
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
Down syndrome affects 1 in 800, significant numbers here
Compiled by Jessica Gruber, Employment Coordination Manager
Down syndrome (or Trisomy 21) is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition. It is universally present across racial, gender or socioeconomic lines in approximately 1 in 800 live births, although there is considerable variation worldwide.

At ProAct in Shakopee, 24 percent of its 86 participants have Down Syndrome.

The Eagan site serves 169 participants, 22 percent with Down Syndrome.

At Hudson, 20 percent of ProAct’s 16 participants have Down Syndrome.

Of 134 Red Wing participants, 11 percent have Down Syndrome.
Parkinson's Awareness Month

Compiled by Case Coordinator Angela Wittenberg

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.

In the early stages of Parkinson’s, your face may show little or no expression. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time.
"It is not always easy to find a place that our youngest son with significant disabilities can fit into, be safe, enjoy and have it be purposeful. ProAct in Hudson has been all that for him. He just adores being there with all his 'peeps' and the extraordinary staff."

-Shelly W., Danny's mother
Careers with satisfaction
Passionate about helping others? Are your talents being fully utilized? ProAct is hiring. Apply now!
Contact your MN House members Tell them investments are needed now to increase provider rates through the Disability Waiver Rate System (DWRS). Click the links to find out who represents you. More info at mohrmn.org. Thanks for your support!
Enrichment program highlights for March
Como Observatory, Hmong Village, St. Patrick's Day experiences
Participants in Hudson stepped up their outside activities in March with experiences at multiple venues in and around the Twin Cities.

Individuals visited Hmong Village in St. Paul for a cultural learning experience. They tried jackfruit, a cousin to figs and mulberries grown in Asia, and shopped the market there, explains Case Coordinator LeeAnn Mergens. Indoor gardens and fish at Como Conservatory in St. Paul caught visitors’ attention and some supply shopping broke up the day in Hudson. Earlier in the month, participants here celebrated the birthday of well known children’s author Dr. Suess with a bingo game played in his honor.

Earth Day, Mother’s Day and more outdoor activities were being planned as participants and staff looked forward to park visits again and the fresh air in spring. And Hudson’s Culture Club was learning more about Easter, Passover and Ramadan.
In Red Wing, DSPs Bev Dols and Melissa Pitts said participants had a fun time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Several wore green. They watched “The Luck of the Irish” movie and discussed the holiday’s history. Taking in a second video experience, they viewed “Chicago Green River” and they played Jenga.

Enjoying cookies at morning break, everyone received a St. Patrick’s Day beaded necklace.

Snack Cart proceeds covered some engaging opportunities in the community for ProAct participants in Red Wing.

Topping the list was a theater visit to see “DOG” the movie. “They had so much fun, a lot of laughs and some tears as well,” said staff members.

Two groups also made the short journey to Kwik Trip for donuts, coffee and pop, said direct service professional Lori Clemens. Staff and participants looked forward to warmer days ahead and outdoor activities.
Make our Mission your mission by supporting ProAct's work
Contact ProAct if you are interested in becoming a volunteer!

Fast and easy online giving is available at proactinc.org and you can designate your gift to fulfill a specific need or help a ProAct location. From vehicle expenses to program and equipment needs and our endowment fund, there are numerous opportunities.

If you prefer to give by check, you can mail to ProAct, Inc.
3195 Neil Armstrong Blvd., Eagan, MN 55121. Thank you for your support.
ProAct, Inc. | 651-686-0405 | proactinc.org