Fall 2019 Newsletter

Fall 2019 Newsletter

Nov 01, 2019


Table of Contents

FamilyMeans Celebrates Two Earned Credentials

FamilyMeans Financial Soultions' Eli Snyder Wins NFCC Counselor of the Year 

Cimarron Teens' Podcast Receives Diversity Award 

FamilyMeans Memorial and Honor Gifts 

Yoga at the Center for Grief & Loss 

Suicide Survivors Club Workshop 

Counseling & Therapy Youth & Trauma 

Caregiving & Aging Offers Virtual Reality Dementia Experience 



FamilyMeans Celebrates Two Earned Credentials 

Agency renews credential with Council on Accreditation and earns first certification
in volunteer engagement from Points of Light Service Enterprise.

COA Certification SealAfter a year-long self-study and site visit, the agency was granted a renewed endorsement by the Council on Accreditation (COA). This is effective through

COA President & CEO Jody Levison-Johnson wrote to FamilyMeans President Arba-Della Beck: “Reaccreditation is a tremendous achievement that demonstrates that your organization is recognized as a provider that continues to successfully implement high performance standards and, as such, is delivering the highest quality services to all of its stakeholders.”

Arba-Della Beck credits the FamilyMeans management team, staff, and volunteers who work every four years on this intensive renewal process: “FamilyMeans first gained accreditation in 1989, and since then over 800 standards for excellence have continually been woven into the agency’s programs and operations.” Liz McGinley, FamilyMeans Board Chair, echoes the appreciation and “applauds FamilyMeans on being one of only ten other Minnesota agencies who are COA accredited.”

Council on Accreditation, founded in 1977 and based in New York City, is an international, independent non-profit human services accrediting organization. Peer-driven, the COA has accredited over 2,200 agencies globally.

Service Enterprise Certification SealFamilyMeans is pleased to announce that it has been certified by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, as a
Service Enterprise organization. Locally, the Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administration (MAVA) is the training hub for this program.

By achieving this level of excellence and certification, FamilyMeans is now better equipped to leverage the time and talent of volunteers and to better meet our mission. In fact, organizations that certify join the top 11% of non-profits nationwide in volunteer management and organizational performance.

 staff in service enterprise work session

 FamilyMeans staff in Service Enterprise work session. 

POP save the date


Jim Kroening and Eli Snyder with NFCC Award

FamilyMeans Financial Soultions' Eli Snyder Wins NFCC Counselor of the Year 

Eli Snyder, a 10-year counselor with FamilyMeans Financial Solutions, is named National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) 2019 Certified Credit Counselor of the Year. The award was presented at NFCC Connect, the annual conference of the nation’s largest and longest-serving network of non-profits dedicated to financial well-being. The conference and ceremony took place in Washington, DC.

Snyder plays a critical role in the Financial Solutions team for FamilyMeans, both in counseling and education. He is the financial management presenter with the agency’s Caregiving & Aging program and helped develop the financial and budgeting sections of an ongoing education program for aging community members throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. In addition, he annually teams up with other financial educators to counsel and advise teens at the Minnesota Teen Challenge.

During his tenure at FamilyMeans, Snyder has counseled over 4,250 families and assisted 1,275 to enroll in the Debt Management Program (DMP). Through this, he has helped families repay over $30 million in debt. Snyder happily shares with other staff his expertise in educating consumers about their debt repayment options. His belief in the benefits of the DMP is unwavering.

“Eli approaches each counseling session with energy, sincerity, and an honest interest in improving client situations. His conversational, warm style allows him to build rapport rapidly,” said Jim Kroening, Director of Financial Solutions. Eli’s supervisor, Linda Humburg, adds, “Eli’s focus and drive to improve his knowledge, and his ability to communicate and educate his clients and surrounding community members is unmatched. His energy is endless and the excitement he displays when clients share their progress and growth with financial management skills or debt repayment success is invigorating to those around him.”

FamilyMeans has offered the DMP repayment option since the early 1980’s. It works with those experiencing debt to gain control over their finances by setting steady payment schedules of up to 60 months and negotiated lower interest rates. Creditors earn back monies and clients successfully build their credit scores. Currently, FamilyMeans oversees $11 million in debt for over 1,100 clients—in 2018 alone, nearly $5 million was paid back. Working with FamilyMeans Financial Solutions, 98% of clients report that they make better financial decisions.

FamilyMeans financial counselors are available in Stillwater, Saint Paul, Rochester, and Eau Claire. Additionally licensed for all of Minnesota and Wisconsin, FamilyMeans counsels clients via internet and phone-based sessions as well.


"Complete strangers flow into my office and pour out their hearts, souls, and finances… it is in this place of vulnerability and honesty we get the chance to see true transformation take root.” 

- Eli Snyder



Cimarron Teens at Live Podcast

Cimarron Teens' Podcast Receives Diversity Award 

Each year, FamilyMeans serves about 280 youth in our nationally recognized Youth Development programs located in Cimarron and Landfall.  Over the last year, participants from the Cimarron Teen Center have worked with professional artists from StoryArk to create their own original podcast series, Carnation. A collaboration with StoryArk, the podcast has been made possible by support from ArtReach St. Croix’s NEA Big Read, Stillwater Area School District’s Office of Equity and Integration, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.  

Carnation focuses on the personal stories of Cimarron teens and explores the themes of immigration, borders, and belonging. The teen participants, all of first-generation immigrant families, are enrolled in Stillwater Area High School and Park High School, and many of them have had their lives deeply impacted by these themes, both in and out of school.

In October, Cimarron Teen Podcasters were recipients of the 2019 Cultural Jambalaya Diversity Award. This distinction honors those who have made a positive difference by advancing multiculturalism and ethnic diversity in their Minnesota communities.  FamilyMeans is proud of these teens and how they have used storytelling to explore cultural topics and personal experiences. Listen to the Carnation podcast at www.storyark.org/carnation.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


Leslie, Cimarron Podcaster“Students of color don’t really get to advocate for ourselves, our voices aren’t really heard. Stephani Atkins (Executive Director at StoryArk), came up to us at FamilyMeans and asked how do you guys feel about making a podcast? I automatically was like, this is a great idea.” 

- Leslie Menjivar, Cimarron Teen Podcaster


memorial and honor gifts



yoga at the center

 Yoga at the Center for Grief & Loss 

The Center’s newest class addresses the holistic nature of grief and trauma. Traumatic loss impacts our mind, body, and heart. Yoga can aid in the easing our grief by helping to unite body, breath, and heart, by tuning into what is happening under the surface. This gentle yoga practice, led by a certified yoga instructor, leaves participants feeling calm and relaxed.

The next Yoga & Grief session is November 20, 2019 at the Center.

 Click here for more information



suicide survivors club books

 Suicide Survivors Club Workshop
FREE! Register Today! 

Co-hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), join us at the Center for Grief & Loss for this special workshop led by the authors of the Suicide Survivors' Club.This 5 book series uses the art of storytelling to help readers work through grief surrounding the loss of a loved one by suicide. 

Monday, November 11, 2019
Center for Grief & Loss 
6:30pm - 8:30pm 

 click here to register

Counseling & Therapy Youth & Trauma 

 “Trauma” is a big word. To put simply, trauma is any life event that may be violent, cause a sense of danger/fear, or poses a threat to a person’s life; even witnessing such an event can instill these emotions. Almost any experience can be traumatic, especially to a child. If your child has experienced a traumatic event, how as parents do you support them? Here are common suggestions for supporting your child if they have experienced trauma:

  • Understand what trauma is and could be
  • Know your children well enough to recognize when changes occur in their moods, behaviors, and overall interactions with you after a traumatic event
  • Model healthy ways to cope with difficulties
  • Talk about things openly (at your child’s pace and developmental level)
  • Be present for them
  • Ask them what would make them feel safe (they have great ideas!)
  • Continue with ‘normal’ life activities
  • Provide daily structure

 If you find your child is needing more support than these suggestions, reach out to us for help. FamilyMeans provides Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT) for children, teens, and their parents to help process traumatic experiences and build resiliency. TFCBT is widely-researched and found to be the number one treatment for children and teens who have been through a traumatic event. Let us help you and your family on the path to healing!



client using VR equipment

Caregiving & Aging Offers Virtual Reality Dementia Experience 

 Virtual reality (VR) equipment allows users to be fully immersed in an experience. Originally created for video games, VR headsets allow you to see, hear, and move through different scenes and scenarios. In addition to leisure games, this technology provides innovative opportunities for education.

In the spring of 2019, FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging recognized this opportunity and sought support to launch virtual reality dementia education. Local Rotary District 5960 and Rotary Club partners (Lake Elmo Rotary Club, New Brighton-Mounds View Rotary Club, Woodbury Rotary Club, and Stillwater Sunrise Rotary Club) responded to this request and provided start-up funding for this new initiative.

FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging Virtual Reality Dementia Experience helps users view the world through the perspective of a person living with dementia. Putting on the headset, you embody a person living with dementia, from diagnosis to last days. The purpose of this simulation is for caregivers and community members to gain insight and better understanding of the impact of this disease.

Are you interested in learning more about dementia and memory loss? Understand more fully, build empathy, and learn skills to help future interactions - join us for a group VR Dementia Experience!

November 4 – Park Grove Library, 4pm
November 6 – Lake Elmo Library, 2pm
November 8 – R.H. Stafford Library, 1pm
November 12 – Hardwood Creek Library, 6pm
November 14 – Valley Library, 5pm
November 19 – Oakdale Library, 6pm

Contact Jenny West at JWest@FamilyMeans.org to get more information or schedule an individual VR Dementia Experience.

FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging is here to support caregivers and receivers through their unique journey. We provide caregiver coaching and consultation, breaks (respite) for caregivers, support groups, memory screenings, memory cafes, and educational programs. to get started, contact us at 651-439-4840 or visit FamilyMeans.org.

“The VR equipment allowed me to see, hear, and feel how it may be to be someone with dementia. What a unique and grounding experience.”

- Caregiving & Aging Client



FamilyMeans has been busy in 2019! 

2019 events

Where will we see you next?


FamilyMeans Board of Directors

2019 -2020

    Elizabeth McGinley, Chair | Brian Gunderson, Vice Chair 
Cary Stewart, Treasurer | Johan Nielsen, Past Chair
Charles Bransford, MD| Heidi Hubbard, MD | Mike Lyner
Robert McDowell, EdD | Jessica Meletiou | Linda Skoglund
Susannah Torseth | Josh Zignego | Arba-Della Beck, President


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