August 2020
Cleared for takeoff, it was onward and upward for one young man served by ProAct. Kevin Valverde Bustos has career aspirations to be a pilot, and ProAct employment specialist Cindy Besonnie is helping him navigate his initial options.

Through the Pre-Employment Training Services program, the recent high school grad from Prior Lake was inspired by an uncle who told him stories about flying, she explains.

Besonnie accompanied Kevin Valverde Bustos during a visit to Airtreck North flight school at Fleming Field South St. Paul Airport. A flight instructor shared pilot training basics with them. The recent grad sat in airplanes and learned about the controls, moving the flaps, she said.

“We call them job shadows and informational interviews,” she said. ProAct got its start with the Pre-ETS program last summer.

Besonnie set up a Skype online meeting with the Metropolitan Airports Commission and a close-up experience at Airlake Airport in Lakeville. Talking with Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie and Airlake, she was surprised by how welcoming they were. -more-
Mothers share

"Just a quick note to say how much Seamis is enjoying his online classes! They have really made a difference for him! Thank you so much!"
Dana, Red Wing
(Seamis engages in chair yoga, friendship group, virtual outings, walk away the pounds and music classes)

"Thank you so much to each one of you for all the hard work you all put into this every day. Wayne and I are so grateful for the day program and Dina loves getting up to have a purpose during the week. It shows so much that everyone is doing the very best to put all aspects of this together for the clients."
Tara S., Eagan
Dogwood tree honors participant
She used powerful words that would diffuse many situations, “I love you.” Such were the memories of ProAct participant Sherri Baker, who passed away in July.

To honor the 55-year-old who attended ProAct for 23 years, the family planted a dogwood tree outside of the nonprofit’s headquarters. Friends also joined with staff to share memories about her.

“She would come down and tell me what she needed right away, ‘Ron, take care of it.' And, that was it, she was out the door,” said Sherri’s longtime case manager, Ron Hernandez. “She would come in and say her peace.” -more-
Back in the saddle in Hudson
ProAct in Hudson, Wis. is serving close to half of its pre-COVID-19 entourage of participants, and almost two-thirds when one counts a small group receiving virtual enrichment services provided from Eagan.

“So glad to be back. It was huge, oh my gosh,” said Program Coordinator Margaret Christensen.

Hudson reopened with five participants on June 29 and six additional people were added in August with the return of Case Manager LeeAnn Mergens. As more participants return, the hope is to call additional staff back. -more-
From Voc Rehab

"I wanted to let you know how grateful I am for Brandon’s work with EW. He has gone above and beyond working on anxiety related strategies and working with him on learning how to navigate workplace expectations. Thanks to Brandon and ProAct for all of your hard work!"
Heather L., Minn. Voc Rehab Coordinator
He cared for all, found purpose in his work, program
Dennis O’Meara was the perfect, “small town kind of guy,” said one staff member. He was the oldest participant at ProAct in Shakopee, and tallied nearly 31 years with the group.

O’Meara, of Shakopee, passed away on August 18 at the age of 82.

Direct service professional Tom Fix was shocked by the news, and said O’Meara had just returned to ProAct at the end of July.

“He was a very caring man, almost like a news reporter,” said Fix. “If he had a secret, he would love to come up and tell you about it, to see what you would do, and with a funny laugh.”

Fix spent three decades working with O’Meara, who sometimes prepped and packaged rubber gaskets. The older gentleman would often ask people about their families and show pictures of his own. And, his connection with Fix goes even deeper. -more-
State approves emergency funding for service providers
The Minnesota Legislature approved $30.4 million in relief funding for disability service providers during the special session in August. The dollars are split, with $20.3 million for Retention Grants and $10.1 million in Public Health Grants. Funds from retention grants will be issued by September 30 to eligible providers that apply.

Retention grant funds must be used for fixed costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic from March 1, 2020 to December 30, 2020 and associated with maintaining the provider's capability to provide services. Dollars for this effort are provided by federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. Public health grants are tied to individualized employment services and other factors.

ProAct appreciates the calls and emails made to area legislators to stress the need for this funding.
ProAct, Inc. | 651-686-0405 | |