On April 7th, 2018 FamilyMeans celebrated the 10th Annual Power of the Purse. This event invites local women and men to a morning of brunch and silent auction of purses. Proceeds from Power of the Purse support FamilyMeans programming and families in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. .
This year, the room was set for a spring tea party with beautiful pink and green flowers lining the walls and unique teapots on every table. Three hundred guests enjoyed live music and mimosas as they browsed 142 purses and specialty items donated by individuals and organizations. Following the auction was a delicious brunch and short program.
In the past, FamilyMeans has invited a local writer or speaker to headline the event. This year, the program was completely FamilyMeans focused. Videos were shown telling the stories of client and staff experiences with FamilyMeans as we celebrated the success of 10 years of Power of the Purse and the lives touched through this event. Emcee Jenny Hanlon spoke of working with FamilyMeans and providing respite care to a local family. Surprise guest Ken Barlow of KSTP-TV News told his story of living with bipolar disorder and the importance of the counseling and therapy services that FamilyMeans provides.
This event was made possible by the Power of the Purse Committee, individual donors, businesses, and sponsors. If you are interested in joining the 2019 committee, donating to the event, or sponsoring please contact Melena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WOn Sunday, May 20th, FamilyMeans and Chilkoot Café and Cyclery hosted the 4th annual Chilkoot Youth Bike Program Fundraiser. This fundraiser aims to support the FamilyMeans summer youth bike programs in Cimarron and Landfall where about 100 youth participate each year.
In 2017, FamilyMeans youth program participants biked 5,476 miles, learned skills, increased fitness, and reached goals.
This year, we reached our fundraising goal of $15,000 to provide more cycling opportunities for youth, help kids reach the 100-mile goal set for riders each summer, and enable us to hire a youth assistant.
Thank you for supporting our youth! If you would like to donate your time, equipment, or a gift to the program contact Tom Yuska at email@example.com.
The highly anticipated FamilyMeans Youth Development theater production debuted in Landfall on March 8th. There was a full house as the energetic cast performed “The Most Epic Birthday Party Ever”. The story follows Skyler, played by the spirited Denelly Cruz Moran, as she and her neighborhood friends gather in her family’s backyard to celebrate her birthday. Things take a turn for the worse as the adults disappear and the children find they are trapped in the backyard. Left alone, they must find a way to survive and live together.
When realization sets in that they are alone, Skyler’s older sister Charlie brings the guests together and names herself leader, promising order, food, and protection in the backyard, now deemed as Charlandia. Charlie (Nadalie Stevens), along with her Chef (Lele Hawkins), Judge (Kayla Kortkamp), and Defense Leader (Atherio Welch), ruled the stage as they sang “It’s Our Own” which brilliantly described how they will survive..
Midway through the production the cast experienced technical difficulties as the power went out because of a blown fuse. Recovering with grace, the show went on leading the full cast to a roaring finish as they sang “The Most Epic Birthday Party Ever”.
This epic musical puts other productions to shame as it weaves a tale of excitement, struggle, and triumph.
“Phenomenal performances! ”- Arba-Della Beck, President
“The cast and crew were at their best! This will be hard to top!”
– Jaime Staska, Youth Development Coordinator
FamilyMeans EAP believes that volunteering with co-workers provides numerous benefits. Focusing on a shared goal outside of the workplace allows colleagues to build rapport and develop bonds that enhance their working relationship. Natural hierarchies are dissolved when everyone is serving together in and for their community, individuals can utilize skills and strengths that may not be required in the employment setting, and natural leaders emerge. Most importantly, employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to their employer when they feel their employer cares about the community and is willing to give back.
Looking for more ways to strengthen your workplace team? Contact Diane Cragoe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Thread is an organization that provides a central connection for community members looking for volunteer roles throughout Washington County. FamilyMeans works with Community Thread to match local volunteers with opportunities that they are most interested in. .
Each spring, Community Thread honors one local volunteer manager by awarding them the Vi Russell award. Vi Russell (formally Hanson) was Community Thread’s first Executive Director. Under her leadership, a number of volunteer programs were started. Vi also served as a founding member of the Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administrators. The Vi Russell award is presented in recognition of excellence in volunteer leadership to extraordinary volunteer managers who have mobilized, inspired, and led volunteers to meet local needs.
FamilyMeans Volunteer Coordinator, Dianne Vierling, was honored with the 2018 Vi Russell award on Tuesday, April 17th. .
Dianne has been a Volunteer Coordinator for 25 years, spending 12 of those years with FamilyMeans. She has a passion for working with volunteers and says,
“It is such a positive role. I get to witness daily how volunteers sharing their time and talents can make such a positive impact on all of us in the community. Volunteers come with a passion for helping and making a difference…There is so much our volunteers do to support FamilyMeans, and it is an honor to lead them.”
Last summer, FamilyMeans undertook a marketing campaign featuring social media advertising to reach more people who will benefit from Financial Solutions services. In particular, FamilyMeans wanted to reach out to potential clients who are most comfortable righting their financial situation through Financial Solutions’ revamped online portal.
So far, the results have been very encouraging, particularly when it comes to online users: Financial Solutions web counseling sessions are up a whopping 157% since 2016. And overall, financial counseling sessions as a whole are up 12% compared to the same time last year when the marketing campaign began, which also featured radio public service announcements created and aired by Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. at no cost to the agency.
“Though the traditional face-to-face credit counseling model has proven remarkably resilient over time, it became clear that we needed to change our outreach and counseling methods to meet the changing client expectations and needs,” Director of Financial Solutions, Jim Kroening said. “Increasing and improving our digital presence through social media and a streamlined online counseling tool has proven to be very helpful to our clients.”FamilyMeans has revamped its social media ads this spring by targeting specific demographic groups such as retirees, young parents and people of wide-ranging economic levels. Kroening notes that financial difficulties are far from income-specific.
The revamped social media campaign began in May and will conclude in July. The agency will gather feedback from this round of marketing and use that information to fine-tune its messaging through the remainder of 2018
Each year, over 200 volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life contribute their time, energy and expertise to help FamilyMeans realize its mission of strengthening communities by strengthening families. Volunteerism has been shown by many studies, including a report by the Corporation for National & Community Service, to have a multitude of benefits for volunteers. We provide a wide-range of flexible volunteer opportunities for individuals, couples, families, small groups, corporate and faith-based groups, and anybody else interested in helping us help others.
Our largest group of volunteers are respite volunteers. FamilyMeans has been recruiting, screening, training and supervising respite volunteers since 1986. These volunteers go to a caregiver’s home up to 16 hours a month to provide companionship and supervision for children and adults with functional limitations so the caregiver can take a much-needed break.
An estimated 736,000 Minnesotans provide regular care or assistance to a friend or family member who has a health problem, long-term illness or disability. These caregivers have higher levels of depression and are twice as likely to experience chronic illness as non-caregivers. Understandably, more than half of caregivers report feeling overwhelmed, and the need for respite volunteers continues to grow.
Three of our respite volunteers recently took the time to tell FamilyMeans about their experiences with the program. These three range in age from 17 to 77, one is retired while another is getting ready to head off to college, and they work with care receivers from preteens with developmental delays to older adults with dementia.
Dan Cunningham,77, has been volunteering with the respite program for over two years. “I always enjoyed talking with and helping senior citizens, even as a youngster,” Cunningham said. “Who knows...someday I might even become a senior.”
Cunningham worked for three Fortune 500 companies before becoming a behind-the-wheel driving instructor and State of Minnesota driving examiner in his later years. He’s the sort of person that enjoys being active. He raised three children with his wife, whom Cunningham calls “the most wonderful person in the world.”
“My biggest surprise is how much you become part of the caregiver's family after a very short period of time,” Cunningham said. “I see the appreciation in the eyes of the caregiver at each visit, which simply makes me feel good.”
Cunningham said his greatest initial challenge was questioning whether he was qualified enough to handle the duties of being a respite volunteer, but said that FamilyMeans provides “excellent training” that relived all his concerns.
Mitchell White, 25, agrees. “The FamilyMeans staff has been incredible at staying in touch with me to ensure everything is going smoothly. They are very supportive and leave nothing to be scared about.”
The lifelong Vikings, Twins and Timberwolves fan grew up in Iowa before moving to Minnesota three years ago. About a year later, White began volunteering with the respite program. “I did not know much about respite care going into this experience so I did not really have any expectations,” the physical therapist said. “I have always enjoyed being engaged with my community [and] had been looking for a way to serve when I came across respite care with FamilyMeans.”
White volunteers his time with a teenager who struggles to connect with his peers. The two go bowling, go to movies and play different sports together. “I would describe the dynamic of our relationship as a friendship,” White said. “It really is just two guys hanging out and enjoying each other’s company.”
Before she began volunteering with FamilyMeans, Tess Weil, 17, a high school senior, was worried that providing respite would be akin to being a glorified babysitter. “I thought he’d just do his own thing while I kept an eye on him from afar,” Weil said. “I’ve never spent time with an 11-year-old boy before, so I didn’t think we’d have much in common. I was so nervous that he wouldn’t like me.”
That certainly hasn’t been the case. Weil and the boy make cookies, cakes and slime together. They watch movies, play outside and take the boy’s dog, Max, on walks. They also talk about school, life plans and even their worries. “We have the dynamic of me being an older sister,” Weil said. “The 11 year old I hang out with is the greatest guy I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with. He’s so sincere, sweet, smart and funny. I always learn something from him.”
“You get out of this experience exactly what you put into it.”
"Volunteers come from all walks of life: teachers, homemakers, social workers, therapists, nurses, moms, dads, families, retirees, students, grandmas, grandpas and community members,” FamilyMeans Volunteer Coordinator Dianne Vierling said. “There is something for everyone, a chance to learn something new, a chance to make a friend, a chance to gain additional career skills, to be part of a team, to strengthen community, and to stay active and engaged.”
For more information about volunteering with FamilyMeans, please contact one of FamilyMeans Volunteer Coordinators. Dianne Vierling can be reached at email@example.com or 651-789-4055, and Margaret Irwin firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-789-4012.
Grace B. Stoltze was a founding member of Family Service St. Croix (now FamilyMeans) who believed in the power of volunteers. In 1990, the Grace Stoltze award was created in her honor. Recipients of this award are chosen for their outstanding service provided to FamilyMeans over multiple years.
This year, Jason Bradshaw was presented with this honor. Jason has been a volunteer with FamilyMeans for more than 10 years. He first volunteered on the Next Generation council and then joined the Board of Directors from 2007 – 2013 as one of its youngest members.
After his time on the Board of Directors, Jason has continued to stay connected with FamilyMeans in many ways. As COO of Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center, Jason crosses paths with many individuals and families who are mourning the loss of a loved one. He connects these clients to the Center for Grief & Loss to help them through this difficult time.
In 2017, Jason was named King Boreas LXXXI in the St. Paul Winter Carnival. As part of his role as King, Jason suggested adding a nonprofit partner to the carnival. In January 2017, FamilyMeans was named the first ever Winter Carnival nonprofit partner. FamilyMeans staff, board and volunteers participated in numerous activities throughout the year including parades, informational events and more. Working with Jason during his year as King Boreas LXXXI gave FamilyMeans many opportunities to shine in the public light and meet numerous new people.
Jason’s philanthropic spirit, desire to help others, and support of FamilyMeans’ work are just a few reasons he was awarded with the agency’s highest honor given to volunteers, the Grace Stoltze Award.
PIn 2017, FamilyMeans benefited from the time and talent of 222 volunteers who provided 11,111 hours of service. Thank you!
In Honor of…
In Memory of…
Andrew Thomas Carroll
There is a significant shortage of mental health resources in the United States, especially in impoverished rural areas. Although Minnesota is ranked among one of the top states for access to mental health care services in the country, there continues to remain a need, according to Sue Abderholden Director of the Minnesota branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Specifically in Minnesota, there is a need for community services such as mobile crisis and outreach teams. Each area in the state holds some level of need for increased mental health services and as a result, individuals in need of support are either obligated to travel a long distance to obtain services or do not receive necessary services at all. Additionally, there is a lack of psychiatric hospital beds for children and teens in Minnesota. There is also a significant shortage of psychiatrists. Reasons for the increased shortage include higher opioid addictions, diminished stigma and greater awareness of mental health concerns.
A recent topic in the news has been the vote against building a 60 bed children’s psychiatric facility for children and teenagers in Minnesota suburb, Forest Lake. This decision only exacerbated the growing need in rural areas for mental health services.
Interested in learning more about the increased need for mental health services in Minnesota? Visit FamilyMeans.org/blog/articles/to read the rest of this article and catch-up on other FamilyMeans news.
FamilyMeans Center for Grief & Loss in St. Paul offers a wide variety of therapy groups to help people process through their grief and loss in a different way than they are able to in individual, couples, or family therapy.
These therapy groups are closed groups meaning the people who start the group are in the group through all sessions. Often therapy groups have a limited number of participants (5-8 people).
The next group sessions at the Center for Grief & Loss will begin Fall 2018 and include the following; Spouse/Partner Loss, Trauma Information Group, Suicide Loss Group, Child Loss Group, and Art Therapy Group. To learn more about these groups visit griefloss.org or call 651-641-0177.
Visit our team at one of the two Center for Grief & Loss houses in St. Paul, and begin your journey of hope and healing. Services provided include individual, couple, and family therapy, group therapy, community crisis response, and workplace trainings.
Volunteering is something most of us do at some point in our lives. Perhaps you are retired and have more time to give back. Maybe you are a student connected to a school or church that promotes volunteerism. You might volunteer as a family or work team to share the joy of helping others.
At FamilyMeans our volunteers do a wide variety of things. Our goal is to have each volunteer find meaning and joy in their work here. As an organization, working with volunteers is highly valued and something we want to do well. This has led us to an opportunity to spend the coming year learning and improving our volunteer capacity.
Service Enterprise is a national program offered in Minnesota through a partnership between Hands On Twin Cities and the MN Association for Volunteer Administration.
FamilyMeans will be working with this project in the coming year to strengthen our capacity to engage people from all walks of life to help us carry out our mission and values. Service Enterprise has some interesting findings about volunteerism:
Organizations that engage 50 or more volunteers per year and have strong volunteer management outperformed peer organizations in every measure of organizational capacity. They are significantly more adaptable and sustainable, and have better skills, knowledge, experience and tools to do their work.
This year-long effort will allow FamilyMeans to better understand our capacity to work with volunteers and embrace volunteer engagement as a strategic priority that advances the whole organization. We are excited to increase our capacity to welcome volunteers to find a meaningful way to support our work.
I can’t say enough thank you’s to the volunteers who already help us with respite and work with youth at our two after school programs. Hundreds of volunteers help us with events such as the Chilkoot Bike event, the wine tasting night in September or Power of the Purse. Thank you to all who help us with tasks or are simply present with a child or older adult needing support. You make a difference.
Programs and services are funded in part through donations, grants, and United Way support.