MOHR impact
November 2021
'New DAC director, 29, 'where the prairie meets the pines'
With an engaging smile and pleasant attitude, Cooper Wilson is a Fosston hometown guy who is new to disability services. At 29, the leader of East Polk County DAC (EPCDAC) is likely one of the youngest disability nonprofit executive directors in the system.

“It’s kind of funny. I never thought that I would be working in this job field when I was growing up,” said Wilson.

As a middle-schooler not all that long ago, Wilson remembers seeing one of his clients walking and talking at the swimming pool. Now he sees him every day and helps to make his life better.
The leader of EPCDAC serves 25 individuals with a staff of 12. Three of his clients have a one-to-one staff ratio and, unlike much of the rest of the state, the nonprofit is more than holding its own. His only past connection to people with disabilities was a year serving children with emotional and behavioral disabilities as an elementary school paraprofessional.
From inclusion to baby buffalo naming in Wadena
A small and outgoing disability services location for Productive Alternatives (PA) took some initiative during park visits to a nearby town, and entered local history by naming a baby buffalo. All they had to do was ask.

The place is Sunnybrook Park in Wadena, 22 miles from PA's Perham location, which serves 40 individuals with life enrichment and employment services utilizing a staff of 20.

A group was visiting Sunnybrook weekly, where they observed a growing baby buffalo born in spring or summer, explains Perham Program Manager Heather Meyer. Individuals noticed name signs for the parents of the new addition but not for the baby. -more-
Quick MOHR poll
How integrated are people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in your community?
well integrated
somewhat integrated
minimally integrated
not integrated
October poll results:
How many individuals with disabilities are on waiting lists for services in your area?

  • Less than 25 | 26 percent
  • 26 to 50 | 29 percent
  • 51 to 100 | 17 percent
  • More than 100 | 29 percent
(poll results are non-scientific)
MOHR DSP Award winner profiles
Character qualities shine for Daniel Hedstrom, Jr. with MSS in St. Paul. Positive, creative, courageous, sympathetic and dependable, Hedstrom brings renowned knowledge and experience in arts and music to the individuals with disabilities he serves, explains MSS Program Supervisor Fawn Beckman.
Sparking imagination and creativity for people with disabilities in the St. Cloud area, Amber Nord's work is described as inspiring and mission-driven. The highly capable WACOSA DSP challenges people to explore their creativity outside of their comfort zones. From crafting, sewing, various art mediums, performance art activities, event planning, video production and more, there is nothing Amber won’t attempt for our clients.”
MSS Art Employment Coordinator Hannah Foster in Oakdale works one-on-one with individuals who have disabilities to find art employment opportunities. It’s a tall order. Her calm and organized approach involves listening and envisioning the steps needed to gain employment, said Lauren Hughes, director of arts development for MSS. In one example, she helped a student to start his own clothing business. Photoshop software was used to design the clothing and she helped him to create a website, while teaching him screen printing at MSS in St. Paul.
Epic Enterprise job coach Jay Storlie in Northfield helped a man with disabilities employed by Target to boost his productivity and exceed the company’s expectations. Storlie has not let his disability and using a wheelchair stop him either.“Being a disabled person myself, I get how the next person feels,” Storlie said. “Because, my life’s been all about change . . . and I thought, ‘well, maybe I could help somebody else to overcome their needs, as well.” He has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around.

Watch for a column by MOHR President Julie Johnson in the upcoming issue of Access Press.
Check out recent Minnesota House and Senate hearings related to disability services by searching from these links:
In the NEWS
New Hope meal delivery company named outstanding disability employer - CCX Media

Names and notables - Sunflower Communities - Free Press (Mankato)

Ruan/Bobcat partnership earns Outstanding Disability Employer Award

Business honored for employment of people with disabilities - WDIO TV
Legislation could affect employment of developmentally disabled in Douglas County

Two Maple Grove residents accepted into statewide advocacy skills program

Access to vote for disabled generally good in Minnesota - Marshall Independent

Twin Cities team partakes in best buddies fundraising competition - Patch

Minnesota organization works to connect workers with disabilities to jobs - Fox 9 News

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month- Pipestone Star

Opportunities to give and get help around Minnesota this holiday season - MPR News

Wedding of popular Minnesota vloggers 'Squirmy and Grubs' featured in music video

'Able to Vote' organization aims to bridge the voter turnout gap for Minnesotans with disabilities - WEAU News

CVS drops Supreme Court case over disability community concerns

Yuen: For some people with disabiliites, the 'party' stopped 19 months ago


MOHR's strategy for 2022-23
Check out MOHR's strategic plan summary chart and contact MOHR President Julie Johnson for more information.
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The Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation - To Advocate and support members in providing meaningful services to persons with disabilities and communities served.
Photos at top: Pixabay.com and catchmyparty.com