VOICES 7/3/2012

Voices Newsletter by and For Employees of Volunteers of America-Minnesota
July 3, 2012        

CEO’s Corner:
Vision 2020 - "What Direction Are We Going In?"

Strategic Planning Process Began at May Board Meeting
Thanks again to the 46% of you who participated in the recent Employee Engagement Survey!  The Star Tribune named Volunteers of America MN as a "Top Workplace" based on our rating as 130 out of 331 organizations. More important than the numbers is that we heard from so many of our 800 colleagues.
You told us what we're doing well, such as providing work/life balance and informing you about important decisions. One of our areas for improvement is around the statement "I believe this company is going in the right direction."

Let me bring you up to date on what we're doing around planning for the future and "going in the right direction:"

--We began our Strategic Planning Process for 2013 and beyond at our May Board of Directors meeting

--Our draft "Vision 2020" is to "be a nationally recognized model of excellence in health and human services"

This kind of goal is often referred to as a BHAG -- "big, hairy audacious goal."  I prefer WIG, a term that came across my desk this week that means "wildly impossible goal." Whichever term you like, the point is to become a national leader in excellence over the next seven years. A big goal and one worth striving for!
At our June 20th Management Group meeting we began discussion around four draft goals to help us achieve our WIG:

-- Provide exceptional care and support to the people we serve
-- Innovate to meet society's changing needs
-- Build an engaging and inspiring workplace
-- Increase community and philanthropic support for our missio

Over the next few months we will be getting input on our proposed direction from the people we serve, their families, our funders and stakeholders.
You will also have opportunity to give your feedback. In the meantime, please call or email me with your ideas on how we can "go in the right direction" at VOA MN!

Paula Hart Paula Hart
President and CEO

High Tea in the Park
Approximately 40 seniors from Southwest Senior Center (above) broke out the fine china for high tea at Lyndale Farmstead Park on 6/8

Tips for Using MyPage By John Nesbit

MyPage only works with Internet Explorer (not Chrome, Firefox, or Safari)

MyPage only works on PCs. It will not work on Apple computers.

Ask your HR contact for more information on accessing and using MyPage

15-Years of VOA-MN
Suzanne Kelly, VOA-MN's new VP of Children, Youth and Families, and Paula Hart, attended the monthly all team meeting of the Mental Health Clinics where they presented Chris Harnack, director of VOA-MN's Mental Health Clinics with acknowledgement of her 15-year anniversary.

Trauma Informed Care
By Chris Harnack

We are committed to Trauma Informed Care and providing a safe environment that promotes healing and recovery.

As care providers and staff, w
e must be mindful that:

-- Often have our own traumatic histories

-- Experience vicarious trauma in our work

-- Seek to avoid re-experiencing our own emotions

-- Respond personally to others’ emotional states

-- Perceive behaviors as personal treat or provocation rather than as re-enactment

-- Perceive client’s simultaneous need for and fear of closeness as a trigger of our own loss, rejection and anger.

Program News

VOA-MN and Watercourse Counseling Center sponsored the first meeting of the Somali and East African Mental Health Providers Network on 6/26 at the Center for Families in north Minneapolis. The goal of the event was for people who provide mental health services to members of the Somali and East African communities to come together to share lessons learned and discuss the unique challenges of serving these communities. Another meeting will be 7/31, from 1- 3pm at the same location. ~ David McGraw-Schuchman

VOA Nat'l Conference
Paul Omodt, VOA-MN's new VP of External Relations (above), wows the crowd with a presentation on crisis communications at the VOA National Conference in Tampa.

Don't wait. Thank a colleague now. It only takes two sentences! Click here!

Show off your VOA-MN spirit!

Apparel, outerwear, t-shirts, duffle bags, headwear and more available for purchase online, click here.

T-shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, bags, magnetic frames, pens, and more available (free and for purchase)from the Metro Boulevard location.  Click here to check out the stuff!

Meeting/Event Supplies: Signs, banners, display boards and more available for loan from the Metro Boulevard location. Click here to learn more.


Uplifting All Lives:
Changing the World!

Ken Sohriakoff was a pastor “who wore many hats” for 25 years.  His "hats" included  social work, prison ministry, volunteer projects and working the “church from the inside out." Then 3 ½ years ago, Ken put on a brand new hat when he became the social service coordinator VOA-MN’s Residential Reentry Center in Roseville. In this role, Ken helps residents reestablish themselves in the community after time in prison, which includes linking them with “accepting” volunteers, support services and resources to meet their needs.

Ken says that not every day is a piece of cake. In fact, some are downright tough. On those days, Ken says he finds solace in reminiscing about residents he’s helped.

Ken recalls a young man, we’ll call Jack. Jack was thirty years old but looked like a teenager. Clean cut with average American guy looks, Jack was an Iraq veteran who had experienced conflict up close. Unfortunately, that did not prepare him for the struggles he encountered when he returned home.

Without a job, Jack’s wife soon left him. Then, Jack’s family abandoned him after an onslaught of disputes. Alone, homeless and desperate, Jack robbed a bank and spent six years in prison before being released to VOA-MN’s Roseville Residential Reentry Center. That’s when he met Ken. Jack accepted responsibility for his past mistakes and was ready to start over on a new path. Ken helped Jack find employment, get set up in an apartment and connect with organizations to help guide and support him physically, emotionally and spiritually. Today, Jack is successful and works full time for one of the organizations that provided him support during his community reentry.

It’s the successes that give Ken the strength, encouragement and sense of purpose to keep going. Ken says, “If you can change one life, you change the world.”

Learn more about VOA-MN's Residential Reentry Centers.

A/R Tenacity Rocks!
VOA-MN's Accounts Receivable team (pictured above) collected a record breaking $4,072,042 despite gruesome challenges posed by new regulatory requirements.
Click here to learn more.

In the News

Affordable Care Act
On 7/27, the Supreme Court upheld The Affordable Care Act individual mandate in a 5-4 opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts. This means that the hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans struggling to get by with little or no health insurance may be able to get coverage after all. Additionally, the state can continue working to implement the federal health care reform law, which removes many of the barriers that keep people from getting adequate and affordable health insurance.
To learn more:

Read the statement from VOA National President Mike King

Read the Minnesota Budget Project's blog: Supreme Court ruling is critical step forward for affordable health insurance

Sheltering Stones Not Horsing Around!
Milaca's Sheltering Stones residents visited a farm in nearby Princeton where they learned to feed, brush and ride horses many for the first time. Cindy (above) rode so well that she was invited to join the Equestrian Special Olympics group for the Princeton area.


Memorial Day Celebration
Paula Hart joins veterans at Park Elder Center (above) for a special celebration on 5/24 in honor of Memorial Day


Staff News

Congratulations, Ed Ramsey. Ed has accepted the new Maintenance Supervisor position at VOA's Nicollet Towers beginning the first week of July. Ed has accepted the challenge to create a new preventative maintenance program and manage the maintenance staff. Ed will be sorely missed at the Metro Boulevard building and the other sites he has assisted during the last four years. I am deeply grateful for Ed's contributions. Please join me in congratulating him and wishing him success in his new position. ~ Mike Price

We are happy to welcome Todd Thies (pictured right) to VOA-MN's Accounts Payable department. He brings VOA-MN over twenty-five years of accounting experience. Please join me in welcoming Todd to Volunteers of America. ~ Edwina Bruce

Congratulations to Jessica Kuenzli, a social worker with the VOA-MN's Highrise Social Services who just received her master's degree in social work and is in the process of taking her master's licensing boards. ~ Anna Petersmeyer

Congratulations to Tracy Caples-McDonald on her promotion and college graduation. Tracy recently graduated from Metro State with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. After she received her degree, she was promoted to Field Verification Technician position at VOA-MN's Regional Reentry Center where she conducts work and home visits on the residents. She continues to reach out and help the residents and her co-workers, is a dedicated employee and a great asset to the team. ~ Erin Faust, Program Supervisor  

Steve Tyykila just received his Masters of Divinity from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. He is also a Master level instructor of Nonviolent Crisis Interventions through the crisis Prevention Institute. In addition, he has been a certified CPR and First Aid instructor for 17 years. Congratulations Steve! ~ Theresa Twardowski

SPSN Rides the Rails
About 50, residents and staff from VOA-MN's Services to People with Special Needs programs attended a Twins game at Target Field on 5/30 when the Twins played the Oakland Athletics. Staff drove to points northwest of the field and rode the Northstar rail to the stadium which made the trip extra special. The Twins won the game 4-0!

Appreciation & Recognition

Jessy Birdseye was awarded assisted living aide of the month for June at North Park Plaza Assisted Living program because she consistently goes above and beyond and sets a high standard of practice for her other co-workers. She is always willing to take on extra tasks to make things run more smoothly and efficiently, loves to organize and has an excellent rapport with our clients. Thank you, Jessy, for all you do to make our program excellent. ~ Melody Oaks

Many thanks to Katie Troyak, Justine Richels, Bonnie Nelson and Tari Nichols for their wonderful work and preparation for the DHS audit of the DBT Intensive Outpatient Program for Young Adults. Their hard work led to a very successful audit and very positive recognition from DHS for program excellence. ~ Chris Harnack
Linda Pavek was recognized as Bar None's April Counselor of the month because of her hard work and dedication. Linda has been extremely reliable, always  willing to help and is a great instructor to new staff struggling with behavior management. Her vast knowledge of rules, behavior management techniques are invaluable and she is adored and respected by all. ~ Shelly Manke

Bonnie Nelson works hard to keep VOA-MN's Anoka Mental Health Clinic moving. She quickly responds to client’s needs and requests from therapists and doctors. I appreciate everything she does for our Clinic. ~ Kelly Krueger
Tari Nichols of
VOA-MN's Mental Health Clinic went above and beyond to help one of our clients, a first time camper and his mother determine what paperwork was needed in order for him to get the scholarship that the foundation had offered through VOA-MN. She has a big heart... ~ Kristin Thomas

I would like to recognize Nan DesJarlait who celebrated one year with Avanti Center for Girls on 6/13. She started off as a day residential counselor and moved to overnights. She has been a great asset to the team and works hard to make sure that things are ready for the day shift. ~ Michelle O’Connell, Unit Supervisor  

I would like to recognize Krista Baysinger who recently celebrated two years with Avanti Center for Girls on 6/12. She started off as a day residential counselor and switched to be an on-call counselor. She has remained dedicated to her work here, consistently helps with unit coverage and builds positive relationships with the residents. ~ Michelle O’Connell, Unit Supervisor

I would like to thank Sara Boelman for her help with my transition to be the Catori Supervisor at Avanti Center for Girls over this past month. She has been flexible, is a great team player, is open to discuss situations and has great insight. ~ Michelle O’Connell, Unit Supervisor

Congratulations to Angie Graves, Residential Counselor at Avanti Center for Girls who is the May Employee of the Month. Angie is consistent, a very strong communicator and cares about the residents. She participates in trainings, applies her knowledge and experience to enhance the program, and helps build strong relationships with the residents and team members. ~ Pam Solberg


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!  Spread the word to friends and family!

Volunteers of America-Minnesota
(952) 945-4000, www.voamn.org
VISION: Uplift All Lives  -  MISSION: Help people gain self-reliance, dignity and hope