Agency Newsletter - February 2022

Agency Newsletter - February 2022

Feb 16, 2022



February 2022

FamilyMeans Agency Newsletter

What's in this issue?
Click link to be taken to full article.

Join us! Better is Possible FamilyMeans Fundraiser – April 7
Now Hiring! Become a Member of the FamilyMeans Team
Telehealth Benefits for Mental Health Counseling
Welcome our New Volunteer & Respite Coordinator: Dan Bohnker

FamilyMeans Celebrates 10 Years with the Center for Grief & Loss! 
Financial Solutions Advice on Tax Prep & Refunds
Jaime Staska named Interim Youth Program Manager
outh Development Winter Activities
From the Desk of Jim Kroening, President & CEO: 30 Years with FamilyMeans


Better is possible event info

more info | purchase tickets 



Now hiring

Become a member of the FamilyMeans team!

FamilyMeans is currently accepting applications for multiple mental health clinicians, interns, a licensed psychologist, and full-time executive assistant.  FamilyMeans offers competitive pay and benefits such as health and dental insurance, 403(b) retirement plan, and paid time off to eligible employees.  Click the button below to learn more about our current openings, friendly work environment, benefits, and how to apply.     

learn more



Telehealth Benefits for Mental Health Counseling

A large portion of people today have utilized a version of telehealth services over the past two years. In mental health, telehealth service is where a client meets their clinician on a secure website by clicking on a link the clinician provides. Clients and clinicians meet for the appointment and see one another over the screen; much like video calls people make with friends and family. FamilyMeans quickly adopted a telehealth service when it became necessary due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our mental health clinicians, and clients alike, have seen many benefits to telehealth services.

FamilyMeans has put together a list of the top 10 benefits of using telehealth counseling for mental health therapy sessions. 


  1. Saves time and money – when you are able to log on from your home, office, or wherever you may be at your appointment time, there are time and cost savings. You don’t have to take additional time off of work to get to your appointments, nor do you have the cost of gas and possible childcare for that time. You can take your lunch break and then get back to work quickly and easily.

  2. Reduces transportation issues – this ties in with #1, but there is no transportation needed for telehealth services. For families or individuals who may not have transportation this is a great option to still be able to get the services they need yet may not be able to physically get to on a regular basis.

  3. Reduces childcare issues – for any parent of younger children who is trying to come in for their own mental health, or one of their child’s, they always have to consider ‘Who is going to watch the kids while I’m there?’ Telehealth offers the option of not having to leave your home and not necessarily having to find additional care for younger children during your appointments.

  4. Improves continuity of care – clients often have to cancel appointments for a variety of reasons such as: running late, overbooked activities, can’t get away, weather is bad/travel is bad, don’t have childcare, don’t feel like leaving my house, etc.’ Whatever the reason may be, telehealth is often a great alternative so that clients can maintain their appointment with their clinician and continue the care and support they need. We’ve seen reduced cancellation rates since implementing the option of telehealth.

  5. Eases access – mental health services are at an all-time high for demand. Everyone wants late afternoon or evening appointments, yet there are only so many of these times available. At FamilyMeans, new clients can typically get in the next day, or within the same week as they reach out if they are able to utilize daytime hours, which often telehealth is a great option. 

  6. Expands pool of clinicians available – clients are able to expand their search for their perfect clinician beyond their local clinics. Telehealth offers a broader range of clinicians; typically having to stay within your state of residence. However, with this expansion, clients can truly find the right fit for them and a clinician who specializes in their area of concern.

  7. Allows more comfort for clients – being able to stay in your own environment, such as your home or office, for appointments gives clients a sense of comfort. Therapy can be a vulnerable place and if clients are surrounded by their own things, and in their own environment, this often puts them more at ease.

  8. Allows clinician to better understand where client is coming from – telehealth has given clinicians the unique ability to truly see where clients are at – their environment, their favorite spots, or what makes them feel safe. This is not accessible in the same way for in-person appointments. Younger clients often love this part of therapy – they get to show their clinician stuff from their space and share important things with them. This all builds relationship and safety with the clinician. 

  9. Allows for ‘in the moment’ practicing – there is often practicing of skills that occurs during therapy. Whether that is communication skills, coping strategies or setting boundaries. Telehealth offers again, the unique ability for clients to practice ‘in the moment’ with their clinician because natural situations may arise during session that have to be dealt with. Clinicians can be there to support and encourage as the client is working through their skills.

  10. Reduces stigma – telehealth offers more privacy than traditional in-person therapy. Often clients don’t want others to know they are attending therapy.  For clients that live in a small town, have a high powered career, are well known in the community, etc. Telehealth is a wonderful option because clients can access service privately from their home.

We hope these benefits have given you the courage to reach out today to speak with one of our clinicians.


Welcome Dan B

Welcome our New Volunteer & Respite Coordinator: Dan Bohnker

We are excited to introduce Dan, one of our newest staff members. Dan joined the agency as our Volunteer & Respite Coordinator in early January. He had recently come northward from working as Volunteer Coordinator at the Northeast Iowa Foodbank. Dan enjoys biking, hiking and kayaking in his spare time. He is excited to start meeting volunteers and clients here at FamilyMeans. Interested in learning more about volunteering? Dan can be reached at (651) 789-4055 or email


CGL House

FamilyMeans Celebrates 10 Years with the Center for Grief & Loss! 

Since its inception in 1996, the Center for Grief & Loss (CGL) has been one of the few local clinics dedicated to providing individuals, couples, and families with specialized grief, loss, and trauma counseling, education, and support groups. When FamilyMeans merged with the CGL in 2012, we remained steadfast to this unique service offering.

Since then, the CGL has served nearly 4,000 clients in over 48,000 counseling sessions. We continue to be responsive to community needs and changes, especially during this unique time. The need for our support services is greater than ever before. We thank you for 10 impactful years of providing support to those who are experiencing grief and loss, and we look forward to serving the community in 2022 and beyond.



File your returns for free

Financial Solutions Advice on Tax Prep & Refunds

Filing your taxes can be stressful. It is often hard to know who to trust and what advice to follow. Financial Solutions encourages you to use "My Free Taxes" to complete your taxes this year. This United Way based service provides a safe, trusted, and reliable way to file your taxes for free! Visit to get started now! 

We often get asked the question "What is the best way to use my tax refund"? 

The answer depends on your individual financial situation. Once you have a monthly spending plan (budget) in place, you can decide if you would benefit the most by:

  1. Reducing monthly fixed obligations by paying 12 months in advance

  2. Applying the funds to reduce credit debt balances and monthly payments

  3. Building a savings account


1 - Pay Monthly Fixed Obligations:
 If you tend to run out of money before all of the bills are paid, you may benefit by utilizing the refund income to temporarily eliminate some ‘fixed obligations. 

Many households spend a majority of their income on basic housing, utilities, vehicle payments, insurance and other contracted obligations that all require a monthly payment.  Could you benefit by eliminating one or two of the monthly payments from your bill-paying process?  If so, consider making the required payments for 12 months in advance, to eliminate the monthly obligation until the next anticipated tax refund is received. 

Which monthly FIXED obligations can you pay for 12 months in advance, until the next cash bonus is received?  Property taxes? Car insurance? Car payment? Cell phone? Life insurance? Student loan? Gym membership?

2 - Reduce Credit Debt:
If you have a workable spending plan with sufficient income to pay all living expenses and contracted obligations, you may be in a position to reduce your credit debt by paying-down or paying-off credit accounts.  This could reduce or eliminate the monthly payments and interest accrual inherent with credit accounts.

If your goal is to reduce the ongoing monthly payments paid to credit debt in an effort to “balance your budget” and have more money available for living expenses, run the numbers.

Project payment reductions using a 3% calculation.  For every $100 paid-down on a credit balance, your minimum monthly payment will decrease by approximately $3.00. Therefore, if you pay $1000 toward a credit balance, you may realize a $30.00 monthly payment reduction; $2000 equates to $60, etc…

Short-term vs Long-term:

One should also compare the short-term versus long-term benefits of each payment option.

  • Paying monthly fixed expenses eliminates the monthly payment from the budget for 12 months and assumes that a refund or bonus of at least the same amount, will be received in order to repeat the process for the next year’s obligations. This is a short-term endeavor, generally with greater financial impact for the immediate monthly bill-paying process.  With some expenses pre-paid and eliminated from the monthly payment structure, there should be more income available to distribute to other living expenses, credit accounts or a structured repayment plan.

  • Paying-down or paying-off credit debt has long-term benefit implications towards the ultimate goal of being debt-free.   For credit-reduction payments to have the intended impact for the long term, use of the accounts should be limited to amounts that are payable, in full, each billing cycle.  Avoid increasing the balance or carrying a balance after applying the reduction funds. Impact and benefit are lost if shortly after applying the funds, the credit account is used to support living expenses or emergency needs.

3 - Build a SAVINGS:

Utilize a portion of the refund/bonus by setting aside funds for repairs, maintenance, medical costs or other expected expenses.  In addition, save for the unknown, too, by building an emergency savings account. 

After pre-paying monthly fixed expenses for a year, you could now have extra untethered funds. If left untethered, those funds could be absorbed into everyday life and spending and simply disappear; but if put in a savings account for specific applications such as vacations, a new car, vehicle maintenance, home maintenance or a special purchase, they can have a more focused and tangible impact.   

If you are not hindered by excessive credit debt or a budget-deficit situation, use this opportunity to build your savings opportunities.   For additional suggestions about SAVING, ask your counselor for a copy of the FamilyMeans Financial Solutions - Savings Booklet.

Prepare for catastrophe

It’s important to prioritize your living expenses and plan for a certain amount of hardship or catastrophe.   If you are concerned your income might reduce or layoffs are imminent, consider focusing a tax refund or cash windfall on your priority obligations, such as mortgage payments, vehicle loans or insurance premiums. By paying these items in advance 1, 2 or 3 months, you will reduce financial stress and immediate concerns about basic needs if the worst occurs.

Paying in advance

To pay in advance on some loans or accounts, you may need to include monthly payment coupons or specify your request to ‘advance the payments’ with a company representative. Sending a lump sum payment without instructions to ‘advance the due date’ may simply reduce the principal balance of the debt, and the monthly payment would be expected the following month.

Not sure where to start budgeting? Contact FamilyMeans today and set-up an appointment with a Financial Solutions Counselor by calling 651-789-4014 or visiting



Jaime Staska 2022

Jaime Staska Named Interim Youth Program Manager

FamilyMeans is pleased to announce Jaime Staska as the new Interim Youth Program Manager.  Jaime has taken on this role due to the retirement of long-time Youth Development Director, Tom Yuska.  Jaime has a long history with the FamilyMeans Youth Development program. She began with the agency in 2008, creating the Cimarron Kidspace program in a softball field.  Programming shifted to borrowed community space for the next seven years until the opening of the Cimarron Youth Center in 2015.

Jaime has worked with youth ages pre-k to 18 in various out-of-school settings over the past 23 years.  She has a bachelor’s degree in communications and music from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and a Spanish k-12 teaching certificate from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Jaime enjoys working with youth, bringing them out of their shell and helping them to discover their unique talents and gifts.  Jaime says “Working in the Cimarron Community for the past 14 years and being able to see youth grow from youth to adulthood and shaping the next generation has been such a rewarding experience.” 

Jaime considers her recruitment of Erin Patchin (Investigation Station Coordinator, 2009) and Andy Calixto (Kidspace Assistant Coordinator, 2021) to be her greatest achievements.


Youth Development Winter Activities

Participants ages 5-18 at the Cimarron and Landfall Youth Development sites are staying warm and busy this winter with many fun and enriching activities.

YD rooster visit

4-H Programming - Rooster Visit

Kids in the Landfall Investigation Station and Cimarron Kidspace have been enjoying 4-H programming that exposes them to new experiences.  Recently, 4-H leader Caitlin introduced the youth to her show chickens and they got to pet Rocky the Rooster. They learned all about different breeds and parts of the anatomy.  Youth who are interested in showing livestock have the opportunity to lease an animal to show at the fair.  A variety of projects can be shown at the County fair, and this helps youth to find their interests.

YD Film making with Compas

Film Making with COMPAS

Youth have been busy learning about film making with Deacon, a COMPAS artist.  They focused on matching video with sounds to “trick” the viewer.  The film making project was made possible through an art grant and a partnership with COMPAS – a Minnesota non-profit arts organization.




Big brother big sister arts program

Big Brother Big Sister Arts Program

The kids at the Cimarron Kidspace have been enjoying lots of art activities this winter!  Kidspace partners with Big Brother Big Sister’s Free Arts program.  The Big Brother Big Sister’s volunteers lead the many activities and make sure fun is had by all!


2022 Covid Vax Clinic

Covid Vaccination Clinic

Youth at Cimarron volunteered for Washington County’s first on-site vaccine clinic for ages 5+ held at the Youth Center.  Youth helped put up signs promoting the clinic and created a colorful “selfie station” for kids to enjoy following their vaccination.



From the Desk of Jim Kroening, President & CEO: 30 Years with FamilyMeans

I recently celebrated my 30th anniversary with FamilyMeans. It is hard to believe that I joined the organization in 1992, which seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once. At that time, I was the Consumer Credit Counseling Service Manager, and if you would have asked me back then I would guess my future would be in banking! But, once I saw the amazing work being done at the agency, FamilyMeans quickly made a special place in my heart, and any other career was out of the question. 

Now, three decades later, as the President & CEO of FamilyMeans, I continue to be amazed at the ways our programs help individuals and families by providing truly lifesaving care. I am dedicated to leading the agency on a path that allows us to help more people and continue to be responsive to community needs. To help guide our future we have begun to build a new strategic plan. This process brings together board members, staff and community members to envision our future, and establish ideas on how to make these goals a reality. We will build on our strong foundation to continue our mission.

2022 will be a busy year and we are hopeful that the upcoming months will allow us to transition to more in-person activities.  I am looking forward to our first in-person BETTER IS POSSIBLE FamilyMeans Fundraiser in April.  I want to personally invite you to join us for this important event.  Events such as this ensure that we can continue to meet our mission and your support is greatly appreciated!

I am grateful for my time at FamilyMeans and the opportunity to serve this community. I hope you join me in celebrating the future of the agency at our BETTER IS POSSIBLE EVENT!

Jim K celebrates 30 years with FM

FamilyMeans Board of Directors

 Brian Gunderson, Chair | Melissa Harris, Treasurer | Susannah Torseth, Secretary
Lindsay Belland | Charles Bransford, MD |  Heidi Hubbard, MD | Marissa Kropp
Mike Lyner | Peter Matzek | Jessica Meletiou | Rajean Moone, PhD
Linda Skoglund | Josh Zignego | James Kroening, President & CEO

1875 Northwestern Ave S,  | Stillwater, Minnesota  55082
651 439 4840 |

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