Winter 2017
paper-clip-graphic.gif "Branding" Independent Living in Minnesota
   We have started an important conversation in Minnesota about "branding" or developing distinct name recognition for Independent Living (IL) as a way to clarify what is unique & distinct about Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and the services we perform.  These conversations have impassioned many advocates throughout Minnesota that live the IL philosophy each and every day.  IL can't really be described as a service but more of a mindset.  It's a culture and an adv
ocacy movement focused upon self-directed lives that has existed since the 1970's and evolved out of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's.  "Nothing About Us, Without Us" or "Living the Life I Choose" are certainly statements that reflect a part of the IL culture of independence but there are many pieces that make up the unique "IL Way". 
   One very distinct feature of every CIL is that 51% of our staff & Board are people with disabilities.  In other words, services performed by and for people with disabilities.  Often called the Father of Independent Living, Ed Roberts was a profound visionary and advocate that was instrumental in the development and funding of IL throughout the United States.  In fact, January 23rd is nationally recognized as Ed Robert's Day.  The IL Core Services or principles are unique to "IL" and are consistent across every CIL in the nation (over 340 CILs across the country).  The Core Services are:
  1. Advocacy
  2. Peer Mentoring
  3. IL Skills
  4. Information & Referral
  5. Transition (defined in 3 ways: from nursing homes or institutions to community or the prevention of institutionalized care, youth transitioning to adult life in community).
   While many CILs provide many different services to people with disabilities, all CILs provide these fundamental core services.  The "IL Way" embraces principles of self-direction, empowerment, choice, inclusion, accessibility, freedom, civil
rights, accessibility, pride, equality, etc.  Let us know what you think, what does IL mean to you?  Please let us know your thoughts by emailing [email protected]
MACIL Lobby Day
   The Minnesota Centers for Independent Living (MACIL) are planning a legislative Lobby Day at the Capitol on February 27th from 9:00 a.m.-Noon.  We need your involvement as we share the important message of appropriately funding Independent Living in Minnesota.  As we've shared in 2017, the Nursing Home Relocation Services alone have saved the State of Minnesota over $5,800,000 in state Medicaid dollars and the prevention of nursing home placement or institutionalized care as much as another $82,000,000 in savings.   Please consider joining Access North and other CILs across Minnesota in sharing the IL message of empowerment & choice with our Minnesota Representatives.  Please call 218-262-6675 to see how you can get involved in legislative advocacy in support of Independent Living. 
Computer Donation & Grant
   Access North was excited to receive 50 desktop computers as part of  a collaborative grant project from the Blandin Foundation, PCs for People and the Hibbing Chamber.  These computers are specifically for donations to seniors (aged 55 & older) and people with disabilities that have limited or no access to computers and would benefit from computer training.  The project also includes computer training and printers, thanks to an additional donation from the Target Corporation.  Access North has already started the process to identify recipients for these computers.  The distribution to consumers is planned for 1/29/2018. Please call our office if you'd like to apply for one of these computers, they are going fast. (218-262-6675).    

Please consider a gift to Access North 
and join us in our mission to help people... 
"live the life they choose!"
Did you know?
...that State & Federal funding for our Independent Living Programs provide only a small portion (less than 10%) of our operational revenue.  We are reliant upon other sources of revenue such as fundraising, grants & donations to meet the needs of
 people in northeastern Minnesota.  
...That Access North serves 10 counties in northeastern Minnesota; your support can help us reach more people in underserved areas.
...that you can designate where your donation goes: Ramp & Home Modification, Independent Living Services, Assistive Technology Program, Veteran's Services, etc.  Where do you want to leave your legacy?
...that because of your support, we provided 42 home modification mini-grants to homeowners in need in 2017. 

Here are a few more examples from 2017 that donors like you helped: 
  • 1250 consumers received services
  • 3250 requests for Information and Referral
  • 329 individuals received Housing, Home Modification and Shelter Services
  • 76 individuals received vocational services
  • 197 assistive technology services
  • We built 63 ramps for consumers using 5376 volunteer hours
  • 229 goals were achieved in Self-Advocacy/Self-Empowerment
  • 468 goals were achieved in Self-Care
  • 94 goals were achieved in Information Access/Technology
  • 16 people were relocated from a nursing home or institution to community-based living
This is just a small snapshot of the services we have provided during the past year!  To donate please visit our website to donate securely via PayPal.  
Thank you!
Don Brunette, Executive Director

We are now "Live" with our MITC software which provides timekeeping, payroll and billing functions.  All staff are now entering time worked by phone (called telephony) or a mobile device.  We have worked through a few glitches, but all in all the system is working well.  Thank you to all of our Access North family for working so hard to make the system a success and for your patience in this transition!   


WIOA Update - Year 2 
Our WIOA (Workforce Innovation Opportunities Act) staff (Vicki Cochran, Hibbing and Chris Rasmussen, Duluth) have nearly completed half of our agencies in the first half of our 2nd WIOA year. For year 1 of WIOA an average of 16% of folks statewide with disabilities working for less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour identified they would like an opportunity to try community integrated employment. Once they say yes, we are working with the person and their teams to assist folks with ideas, referrals, resources and options available to help them with moving in their chosen direction for employment. Chris and I have heard of and seen some great success stories, including some folks that are even making over the state minimum wage now that they have been given the opportunity and supports/accommodations to learn the job and do their very best. For some individuals this is their very first experience working in an unsheltered setting and they are flourishing.
First Annual Money Raffle drawing held
Pictured above is our 2nd Place winner Pat Vincent, receiving his $750 check from Executive Director Don Brunette.
Just in time for Christmas ... On December 14, 2017 - Access North drew the  winners for our first Money Raffle!  

Here are the results:
$1,000 Grand Prize - Lyle Thoreson 
$750 Second Prize - Pat Vincent 
$500 Third Prize - Nicole Meller 
$250 Prize - Cobi Sundvall 
$250 Prize - Bryce Ranta 
$250 Prize - Thirsty Moose 
Congratulations to the winners and a big "Thank You" to all who bought or sold tickets!  All proceeds went towards our Home Modification program! Home Modification Logo Home Modification Logo
Holiday Party time!
Tony showcasing one of his instruments.
This year at our Holiday party, staff had the privilege of listening to one of our consumers, Tony Adams, speak about his experience with disability and the road he has taken with his artwork and craftsmanship in making musical instruments and walking sticks out of wood.

The games were a lot of fun - we will be practicing for next year!  Thank you to all who helped plan the party and made it so much fun!  It was a great way for everyone to get together to wrap up 2017 and look onward to 2018! 

Access North participates in Rotary Chili Cook-off
Pictured above:  Executive Director 
Don Brunette, Administrative Assistant/Chef Patty Baratto and 
PCA Program Manager Cathy Baudeck
A roaster FULL of chili!
Access North staff entered Italian Chili into the 1st Annual Rotary Chili Contest held at the Assumption School

The competition was tough and we were only 5 votes from winning first place (and $500) out of a gym full of entrants!! 
Game of Life Group tours Bentleyville

Game of Life is a social recreation group that meets throughout the year in the Duluth area.  The group focus is for teenagers and young adults to build social skills, self advocacy skills, community connections and long term relationships.  For the second year in a row the group chose to have a night at Bentleyville to celebrate the holiday season.  A few of us met for coffee at Starbucks and then walked to beautiful Bentleyville where we all get to feel like kids again!  
I think this may become a new group tradition.
Cooking Class gets into the Holiday spirit! 

The Hibbing Cooking Class recently learned how to make Christmas cookies!  As you can see, they had a great time and the cookies were delicious! 
Our group meets every Thursday from 3:00-4:30 p.m.
PCs for People Desktop Computer Giveaway 
We are in the process of scheduling our January trainings for our PCs for People Desktop Computer Assistance Applications.  We have limited desktop computers, monitors and printers available on a case by case basis to consumers on the Iron Range. This giveaway is made possible with support from The Blandin Foundation, PCs for People and the Hibbing Chamber of Commerce.  To be considered for a donation, you need to live on the Iron Range and either need to be a senior (age 55 or older) or a person with a disability willing to attend a 1-1/2 hour computer training in our Hibbing office.  If you did not receive an application in the mail, please email [email protected] or call (218) 262-6675 for information.
Ed Roberts Day - Tuesday, January 23, 2018
photo of ed roberts
Ed Roberts was a pioneering leader of the disabilities rights movement in the 1960's. He was the first student with severe disabilities to attend the University of California, Berkeley as well as the head of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living (CIL), the first independent living service and advocacy program run by and for people with disabilities. He is often called the father of the Independent Living movement in the United States.

We continue his legacy by celebrating Ed Roberts Day on Tuesday, January 23. 
A Letter of Thanks ... 
What a great way to end the year!  We recently received this letter from one of the consumers we have been working with.  This makes all the work that we do so worthwhile and will keep us working hard in the New Year!  

To all Access North employees, 
   I just wanted to provide Access North with an official letter of thank you for all the help they've provided.  They've done a lot for me.  They've helped me get my own place and provided valuable ILS services I really needed.  i just want all of you at Access North to know how much i appreciate it.
   Access North has provided a great service to me currently and in the past.  I love ILS and I thank Access North for helping me to find my current independent living situation at (removed for privacy). 

   Pete and Maggie have been great to work with and I'm looking forward to working with and meeting new people. 

   To all of you at Access North, Pete, Maggie, Regina and especially Steve, who helped me in the transition process of getting my own place.
   To all of you at Access North: Keep up the good work!

                                             Robert E. McKenna    (reprinted with permission)
2017 Survey Results
Agency Satisfaction Survey
Thank you to all of you that took the time to take our Survey last year. We greatly appreciate all of your input and responses!  Staff is looking at the information gathered, comments and suggestions. We are happy to report that we got an overwhelmingly positive outcome, however we are always looking at ways we can improve.  Here are the results. 
*95% of the consumers surveyed said Access North staff was polite and respectful.
*97% of consumers said staff was knowledgeable about the services they were asked to provide.
*66% believe they were VERY involved in the planning, direction and activities of the services received.  17% MODERATELY involved, 2% not involved and 4% no response. (11% not applicable)
*49% said the support received was Extremely Useful.  37% said Very Useful, 8% Somewhat Useful, 2% was Not Useful At All and 4% No Response.
*62% said that as a consumer they received timely information about State and Agency program changes,  9% said No, 23% Not Applicable and 3% No Response.
*80% said that as a consumer they were given thorough and accurate information about their program and services they were receiving,  5% said No, 9% Not Applicable and 5% No Response.
* The primary support received from Access North was ...
19.4% Independent Living Skills Training
25.2% I&R
21.3% Advocacy
10.6% Peer Support
6.7% AT
23.3% Home Modification or Ramp
6.7% Employment Service or Vocational Rehabilitation Service
36.8% PCA
12.6% Homemaking
2.9% Respite
10.6% Support Group or Skills Classes
2.9% Transition
24.2% Other
*90% of our consumers are overall satisfied with the services received, 4% were not satisfied, 6% No Response

If you didn't have a chance to take the survey last year, or would like to give us your input for the coming year - we have the 2018 Agency Satisfaction Survey up and running!  You can stop in and pick one up to fill out, ask the staff member that you work with for one or take it online.  If you are a consumer, you can choose to enter into a drawing at the end of September.
Disability Linkage Line is now Disability HUB MN.  
The phone number (1-866-333-2466) is still the same 
but the name and website has changed.
Elizabeth shares her story on YouTube about living with a disability
Elizabeth joined Access North's Game of Life Social Recreation group in 2009.  Since then, Elizabeth has grown as a person and in her CIL. She has joined many other classes, including Self Advocacy Group and has become an effective advocate for herself and individuals with disabilities across her community.  Recently Elizabeth joined a contest through Independent Lifestyles for their #BetheONE video competition.  Elizabeth was tasked to create a 2 minute YouTube video that would contain one or more of the following:
  • Treating individuals with disabilities and those who are different with respect.
  • Finding ways to be inclusive of those who have a disability or are different from you.
  • End bullying to persons with disabilities
  • Use language that empowers people with disabilities (person first language).
  • Invite others to #BetheONE to make changes in their communities
Elizabeth was a finalist and her YouTube video received about 200 views!  Congratulations Liz!

Patty's Peppermint Fudge 
photo of peppermint fudge
Just a handful of ingredients and a few minutes of your time and you have this refreshing and festive fudge for the Holidays - or anytime!
  • 24 oz white chocolate chips
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 cup crushed peppermint candy or candy canes, divided

Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with non-stick foil and set aside. Combine white chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and salt in a medium bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth and melted then stir in the peppermint extract.  Stir in ¾ cup of the crushed peppermint candy canes. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and spread evenly and top with remaining crushed peppermint candy canes. Refrigerate for 2 hours until set. ENJOY!

From all of us to all of you, 
wishing you all a  Happy Holiday Season!