A Note from Don ...
Home Access Program Receives Funding for
Aging In Place Services!
Our Home Access Program is now providing comprehensive home modification services to allow people to “Age in Place” successfully within their own homes.  Access North now has dollars available for homeowners to help make this happen!    Access North has been chosen to receive a Live Well at Home Grant from MN DHS to help 65+ year old homeowners improve accessibility throughout their home!  
winter dollar sign
  If you are a senior homeowner and are interested in receiving up to $2000 to improve the accessibility of your home, please give us a call!  We are now taking applications!

Our Home Access Program utilizes a team based approach to improve a home owner’s ability to remain within the home and successfully Age in Place.  Successfully Aging in Place requires thoughtful planning & can involve a variety of projects such as grab bars, handrails, bathtub cuts, door widening, relocation of laundry, bathroom or bedroom, transfer poles, wheelchair ramps or lifts, accessible porches & decks, kitchen modifications, and much more.

Our team encompasses the expertise of a  Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) to understand the unique accessibility needs of the older adult population and identify solutions to common barriers.  Incorporating assistive technology is an important feature in the program.  Through the use of our  Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) , we can help people improve their independence in performing daily living activities throughout their home. Our ATP can assist with identifying aids for daily living, mobility, hearing, vision, electronic aids, computer applications and home & environmental control systems that can support independence in any environment.  We also have a lending library for equipment!  Our  Independent Living Specialists (ILS) will assist in identifying funding sources and helping people through the process.  

Access North is committed to bringing people with disabilities and those feeling the effects of aging the resources, information and expertise necessary in order for them to remain within their home!  
We are your "Aging-in-Place" Resource
photo of tub cut
Tub Cuts are an Affordable Option for Homeowners to Consider
When enhanced bathroom accessibility is required, several factors may come into play when deciding on the best option.  If limited bathroom space or cost is a concern, a bathtub cut may be a good option to consider.  A tub cut is simply removing a side portion of the tub which allows for a more accessible passage into the shower.  When combined with a shower chair, some strategically placed grab bars and a handheld shower nozzle, a tub cut can provide a person much improved access into the shower at a fraction of the cost of a roll-in shower.  Tub cuts can be performed on cast iron, steel or fiberglass tubs and can be completed in ½ day.    

Accessible Deer Hunt Planning is Underway!
Access North has started initial planning and discussions with the MN DNR and MN State Parks & Trails to explore options in northeastern Minnesota for holding an accessible deer hunt.  Our intent is to provide an accessible option for hunters regardless of experience, skill level or disability.  Our goal is to plan for the 2019 deer hunting season if a location can be secured in the near future.  The hunt would most likely be sometime in October of 2019.  Our goal is to provide hunters with a fully supported, quality hunting experience over a few days while enjoying a good meal, good company and embracing a great MN tradition.  Whether you are excited to hunt or would like to volunteer & get involved in a great experience, we need to hear from you!  
photo of ramp crew
God’s Work, Our Hands
A team of volunteers descended down from the heavens & into our wood shop as part of a community wide service project called God’s Work, Our Hands!  The service project is an annual event of the ELCA and Hibbing’s Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.  The volunteers worked inside our workshop constructing wooden ramp modules.  These ramp modules are used in the construction of home access ramps that provide an accessible entrance into a home.  Access North has installed over 1400 access ramps on homes throughout northeastern Minnesota over the past decade.  Thank you to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church for including Access North in this wonderful volunteer service project!     
Printer Donations
Access North continues to have printers available at no cost to our consumers thanks to the generosity of the Target Corporation.  These laser printers are higher quality and the ink will last significantly longer than a standard ink jet printer.   Please call our office if you’d like to request one of these printers (218) 262-6675.  

give to the max day logo
Give to the Max Day
November 15 th is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota.  If you or someone you know has been positively impacted by a ramp installation or any of the many personal services we offer at Access North, please consider a donation today.  

Please go to GiveMN.org & search Access North or click on the button below.
Thank you!
Don Brunette, Executive Director

Introducing the latest additions to our staff ...
Cydney Neuenschwander, Registered Nurse/Qualified Professional - Hibbing
My name is Cydney Neuenschwander.  My husband and I have been together for 27 years, both graduating from the same high school class in Hibbing.  We have raised three grown children in this area and have two grandbabies. 
 I have been working in healthcare since 1998, starting out as a medical laboratory technician for many years, and then decided to go back to school and become an RN. I started working with Access North at the end of July this year, and have enjoyed meeting and working with everybody.    
  Everybody here is so friendly and helpful! Thank you everyone!
 I love what I do and hope to be able to make a difference in helping people with disabilities become more independent in their homes.
Kiri Basore, Independent Living Specialist/
WIOA Counselor - Brainerd
I have lived in Brainerd, MN, my whole life. I have a 2 1/2 years old son who is my world! I enjoy spending time with friends and family during my down time and being outside as much as possible. A sense of humor is the key to life! 

I spent almost 15 years working in the group home field and found it very rewarding. During those years I climbed my way up, learning new positions and taking on more responsibilities as I went. The last position being a Designated Manager for four homes. The experience was very rewarding but tiring. I'm excited I was given the opportunity to work for Access North and be a part of their mission and services they are providing. 
photo of kiri
photo of cassi
Cassandra Conn, Independent Living Specialist - Aitkin
I was born in Texas and raised in rural Minnesota towns.  I met my husband in the Twin Cities metro area and we lived there until we moved to Nashville and then Houston for work.  When our oldest daughter was a year old we moved back to Minnesota in hopes of being closer to friends and family.  We love living in Northern Minnesota (with the exception of the cold..brrr..) Our oldest daughter is 4, and our youngest daughter is almost 1. 

I have always had a deep seeded passion for service.  I grew up in a single parent household and was acutely aware of the needs that our family had that were both met and unmet.  I spent many years managing restaurants until the opportunity availed itself to follow my true path.  I implemented and ran a pilot program in Aitkin County called WRAP (We Rally Around Parents) that helped parents with children in the home 0-5 in Aitkin County get connected with resources.  My services were large and varied.  They included helping several families who were experiencing homelessness find housing, connecting them to mental health resources and crisis services, and helping their children get connected with early childhood programming.  I found running the program was extremely fulfilling and I am honored to have been a part of helping it get off the ground.

I am excited beyond words to take the next step in my journey with Access North and to take my passion for service even further.  I cannot wait to help consumers set and achieve goals that will help them maintain their independence!  I look forward to dedicating my time and skills as an IL and learning from all the amazing talent that I will be surrounded by at Access North.  
It's that time of year again – FLU SEASON!
We just put away the mosquito repellant and now it’s time to break out the hand sanitizer! The ‘Flu’ or Influenza is on the move once again in our fair state, and it isn’t picky about who it affects. Young or old, healthy or frail. This virus doesn’t discriminate.
We’re all at risk.  
Vaccines are easily available and at little to no cost. Everyone is strongly urged to get vaccinated. It not only protects you it protects everyone you come into contact with. Some folks may experience sore arms, muscle aches or even worse, but these side effects of the vaccine pale in comparison to actually having Influenza. This is a virus that kills, and should be taken seriously.
Handwashing is a great defense against the Flu virus. Wash well, wash often. Use hand sanitizer if washing isn’t a choice. If out in the community, use the sanitizing wipes often available to wipe down shopping cart handles.  And wash hands when you get home. 
We all want to enjoy the fall and winter months in good health. Let’s all take steps 
to stay healthy. Why not start today?
– Barb Sotzsky, RN (Qualified Professional, Hibbing)
Access North Employee Coupon Book
coupon graphic
HOT OFF THE PRESS is the First Edition of our Employee Coupon book. Access North is pleased to offer employees across northeastern Minnesota our new coupon book which includes offers from businesses across northeastern Minnesota.

This coupon book is a gesture of thanks and appreciation for all that our employees do to support people in a variety of ways across Minnesota.
This book has some great deals exclusively for Access North employees.  Our hope is to make this coupon book bigger & better each year as a special thanks to you, our valued employees.  If you have ideas or business contacts you’d like considered for next year’s coupon book, please give us a call!     
Thank you to all of our employees for the wonderful work you do each and every day for the people of Minnesota!  You truly make a difference in the lives of the people you support! 
A special thanks to Trina Arnesen and all those whose hard work made this coupon book beautiful and full of great deals.
Awesome work, Trina! Your hard work is appreciated!
AT Corner heading
Assistive technology is any device or service that improves the ability of people to maintain or improve their independence in performing daily living activities. Assistive technology can be as simple as a book stand or as sophisticated as a communication device that has both computer and cell phone functionality. 
Here are just just a few of the items we
have in our Lending Library which are available to you at no cost ...
photo of patient lift
Power Patient Lift available in our Loan Library

We have a Liko Sabina II EE sit-to-stand power patient lift in our Lending Library that we would like to see used by someone who could really benefit from it. It is in nearly new condition and we can loan this out as an open-ended loan until no longer needed.

Call our Assistive Technology Professional Sheri Cooke at (218) 625-1400 if you are in need of this device.
photo of couch cane
Stander CouchCane Adjustable Standing Aid for Chair, Couch or Lift Chair

We also have the Stander CouchCane available in our Lending Library. Adjustable height cane grip allows for desired hand position for maintaining balance as well as adjustable and reversible bases for installation on either end of a full range of couch styles.

Call our Assistive Technology Professional Sheri Cooke at (218) 625-1400 if this device would be of assistance to you.
photo of optelec traveller HD
Optelec Traveller HD Magnifier

We have an Optelec Traveller HD is available for a 30-day in home trial. Traveller HD allows you to comfortably read letters, newspapers and other materials at the dining table, in bed, or in your favorite chair. Wherever you are, at home, in the office, at school or on vacation, the Traveller HD is your ideal light weight reading companion.

Call our Assistive Technology Professional Sheri Cooke at (218) 625-1400
if any of these devices would be of assistance to you.
Access North now working with the Veterans Administration to provide Homemaking Services
This year Access North is proud to announce that we have been given the opportunity and privilege to serve and work with our Veterans to receive Homemaker or Respite services through the Veterans' Administration.  Now eligible Veterans in Northern Minnesota now have another support service to help them “age in place” and stay close to family and community.  

If you are a Veteran and think you may qualify to receive these services from us, you can inquire with any Veteran Services available in your community for further direction. 
Life with Deer on the Range ...
graphic of deer
Just when you thought it was safe strolling down the street? Well guess again. Just around hunting season began a gentleman in the Hibbing area/ or on the Range was in his power chair and as he was moving along minding his own business out of nowhere a Deer come running from the woods and jumped over him and hit him in the shoulder and the head right here in town.

So in the end…The gentleman was ok; he was upset he didn’t get any meat! BE SAFE OUT THERE!
2018 Walk-A-Mile in her Shoes
walk a mile in her shoes logo
Access North registered as a team that competed in the Crow Wing County Walk a Mile in Her Shoes on Saturday, September 22, 2018. It was a great community awareness event that brought much needed attention to the devastating effects that one faces during and after experiencing sexual and or domestic violence. 

Sexual violence and domestic violence services provides awareness and prevention within the community to all people but we know that those with disabilities are at a far greater risk of becoming a victim of sexual and domestic violence. At this year’s event Access North was honored to be asked to be the keynote speaker for the event. Melissa Canfield, 245 D Services Coordinator with Access North, not only took part in the walk but she also spoke about the risk of domestic and sexual violence specifically to individuals with disabilities. 
People with disabilities are at a 3 times more likely to becoming a victim of violence and it is imperative that we take preventative action to reduce the risk of people with disabilities from becoming victims; we can do this by  training the potential caregivers about safety and standards of care. We also need to educate through awareness and prevention to those with disabilities on healthy relationships and boundaries but also provide tools and the resources to enable them to access help when in danger.

The event was held at Mills Ford in Baxter off Hwy 371 in Baxter, MN. It kicked off with Registration at 10:30am followed by Entertainment from 11:00am to 12:00pm. The Walk started at 12:00pm with prizes, refreshments and a keynote speaker from 12:30pm to 2:00pm. Then ended with the Silent Auction at 2:00 pm.
photo of access north walk in her shoes team
Hibbing Groups and Classes set for 2018-2019
Here is the upcoming schedule for our Hibbing area Independent Living Classes and Support Groups. Our groups marked (Ongoing) will continue as always with a possible date or time change, new groups may return into the new year.

All groups will meet at the Hibbing office (1309 East 40th Street) unless otherwise noted. Please call
(218) 262-6675 if you are interested in signing up
for any of these classes.

Movie/ Game Night will start back up November 15th! The time has changed to meet from 3-5:00 pm and it will ONLY meet one time a month, ob the 3rd Thursday. (Ongoing group)

Computer Skills Group will meet one time a month, the 2nd Monday of every month from 1-3:00 m and will start January 14th. (Ongoing)

Grand Rapids Brain Injury Support Group at the Community Center in the mall. Group will continue to be the 4th Wednesday of every month from 10-12:00 pm. (Ongoing)

Virginia Fibro Support Group w ill continue to be the same and ongoing on the 2nd Thursday of each month from 10:30-12:00 Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (1111 S. Eighth St.), Virginia.

Hibbing Fibro Chronic Pain Group will no longer meet.

Circle of Friends  (social skills group) - 6 week session, 2x's a month on Tuesdays from 2:30- 4:00 pm. January 8th and 22nd, Feb. 5th and 19th, March 5th and 19th.
  Social skills group is to teach and guide social interaction of individuals
participating in the group in how to establish and maintain friendships
and participate in activities in the community, etc. 
Drivers Study Group meets two times a month on Tuesdays starting in April from 1-3:00 p.m. Dates are: April 2nd and 16th, May 7th and 21st, June 4th and 18th.

Gardening Group will start back up in June with planting season for the first 3 weeks of June on the 4th, 11th and 18 from 3-4:00 p.m. August will be harvest time and group will meet the first two Tuesdays of the month on the 6th and the 13th from 3-4:00 p.m.
We are looking for people who are interested in our Cooking Class i Walker. Please call (218) 547-2810 to sign up!
Duluth Groups and Classes
graphic of TBI
All of these groups will meet in the Duluth office (118 East Superior Street) unless otherwise noted.
Please call (218) 625-14005 if you are interested in any of these groups and classes.

BRAIN INJURY SUPPORT GROUP:   A support group for people who are living with the daily effects of a brain injury including traumatic brain injury, sports injury, and stroke.  
Meets at Miller-Dwan, Meeting Room 1,  EVERY Tuesday
Time:  3:30 - 4:30 p.m. 

ADVOCACY CLASS:   This interactive class will assist you in defining “what is advocacy?” and how you can become your best self-advocate!  This class will assist you in learning how to speak up for yourself, help other individuals become self-advocates, how self-advocacy will increase your independence, and how you can help advocate in your community. Meets at Access North’s Duluth office: Monthly 1st and 3rd Wednesdays 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

GAME OF LIFE:   A social/rec group for teens/young adults with fun activities planned to increase social recreational opportunities.  Locations vary.   Cost will vary according to activity.   Mondays 5-7 p.m.

COOKING CLASS: Come learn new skills to help you cook delicious meals on a budget!  Meets at Access North’s Duluth office: Thursday’s 2:30-4 p.m.
Brainerd Multiple Sclerosis Group Information
This group will meet from  4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  on the  second and fourth THURSDAY  of the month. The group meets in the  Access North Brainerd office  located at 606 NW 5th Street, Brainerd, MN. For more information, please call (218) 824-5228  .
Access North enters the 2nd Annual Hibbing Rotary "Hot Day in October" Chili Contest
On October 20, Access North staff was busy making and serving chili to Hibbingites at the Assumption School. Over 30 chilis were entered into the contest, with Access North's Italian Chili taking Third place. Along with serving chili, staff also spread the word on Access North's services and networked with others while helping raise money for the Rotary Club.
Photo of staff
Some staff volunteered to help the Rotary and were assigned to the Beer Garden ... !
photo of staff
Kristine Nelson, Independent Living Specialist, and Jake Knaffla, Career Counselor, man the chili table!
Chili & Chocolate Extravaganza
photo of chili contest
photo of chili contest
Access North also participated in Our Savior's Lutheran Church's Chili & Chocolate Fundraiser on October 10 to support their local food shelf. Thank you to all who attended and volunteered their time to make and serve the chili and chocolate!
2018 Aitkin Operation Community Connect
I had the privilege of being in charge of organizing Aitkin County’s 2018 Operation Community Connect. Operation Community Connect (or OCC) is an event where community members can come together to access services and resources.  As a new member of the Access North team, it was an amazing opportunity to be able to continue the work that I was already doing with planning OCC.  I think our mission and the mission of OCC tie together so well that it was a natural fit. 

Aitkin County has not had an OCC event since 2015.  Planning an event of this size takes a lot of time and effort and the prior team needed to move on after running it for more than a decade.  Through a lot of hard work and diligence, we were able to provide and educate over 180 people on services.  78 households were in attendance to take part in free haircuts, children’s activities, free lunch that was generously donated by Grand Casino Mille Lacs, and meeting and getting resources from the 35 different organizations that participated. 

It was an honor to represent Access North at this event and to be able to bring such a good thing back to our community. On our surveys that people completed it was so good to hear that people were excited about receiving mental health resources, food resources, budgeting information, job resources, and last but certainly not least resources that can help them reach their goals of independent living!  I was able to talk to several potential consumers that found out more about our services including a few that have already reached out to me since the event.

The OCC committee hopes to be able to continue running this event in years to come.  Each year we hope to expand the services that we provide and reach a greater and more varied audience.  Our vision is to bring all of the members of our community to one central location so that they can meet each other and get to know how much we all have to share with one another.  We all weave together as the beautiful fabric in this quilt and we are far better when we can share our gifts and serve our neighbors.
– Cassandra Conn, (Independent Living Skills Specialist, Aitkin)
4th Annual Pig-in-the-Park Picnics Held
Access North held it's 4th Annual Pig-in-the-Park Picnics this past summer! Picnics in Hibbing and Duluth were very well attended and Mother Nature cooperated with beautiful weather for both days! Consumers and employees enjoyed doing some rock painting, temporary tattoos, bags and giant Jenga, and great food! Thank you to all who came as well as those who gave of their time to make these picnics such a success all these years. It's a great chance for the whole Access North team to get together and enjoy each other's company.
photo of staff
The Food Line having fun!
photo of painted rock
One example of the many rocks that were given new life.
photo of duluth picnic
Super Delicious (and Easy) Meatloaf
2 lb. ground beef
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 large chopped onion
1 tsp. garlic or garlic powder
2 eggs
1 box Stove Top Stuffing, any flavor
1/2 cup coleslaw (optional)


Place meat into mixing bowl. Add eggs, onion, garlic stuffing and coleslaw and mix thoroughly with hands. Put in greased bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Top with ketchup and brown sugar mixture. (Can be reheated in spaghetti sauce.)