Celebrating our amazing team

Together, we are better! We recently celebrated milestone anniversaries of 39 of our wonderful Opportunity Partners staff members.

With an amazing combined 365 years of service to the mission of OP, it is truly humbling to reflect on the dedication of these individuals who have committed 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and even 30 years to OP!

Employees celebrating anniversaries were recognized at a July luncheon.

Representing all areas of the organization, including residential, day program, work skills and administration, these employees have touched nearly every part of our company. Some started as temporary workers and have advanced to management positions. Some started in the program area and transferred into new opportunities in finance or other administrative areas. All have given their time and talent to advance the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Here’s what they said at a luncheon on July 9 in their honor.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to work with our persons served. I love them.” – Mike Mueller, transportation (20 years)

“We all work together as a team to support people.” – Sam Dennis, residential ( 5 years)

“It’s been a fun 5 years. There’s been some great challenges.” – Putheavy Nop, production (5 years)

“I really enjoy it. (OP) makes my heart soar. It fills me up and makes me really happy.” – Kelly Laignel, employment and residential (5 years)

“I love working here. I never thought I’d be in finance but it’s pretty great,” – Sheena Schar, finance (10 years)

“I love OP. It has been a great 10 years.” – Nicki Hennessey, day programs (10 years)

“I’m really grateful for everyone who works here.” – Jennie Davis, day programs (20 years)

“I like to connect with the guys at the houses.” – Anastanciah Mose (10 years)

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities?

We have many job openings! Join our team.

Fire update – your help is appreciated!

Our community is embracing us after the June 12 fire at OP’s Ensign Residence in New Hope. Our insurance adjusters have declared the house a total loss, and we are assessing whether to rebuild at the site or purchase a different home. Meanwhile, the residents have settled into longer-term housing and are just coming to grips with the loss of their home and possessions.

You can help us move forward for Jim, Ken and Ken, who called Ensign their home for more than 20 years. Even with OP’s insurance coverage, we know there will be significant gaps in uncovered costs. Your support is critical.

Our goal is to raise up to $300,000 to rebuild or purchase a new home. Thanks to the heartwarming generosity of an OP family, your gift will be matched, up to $50,000.

Many of you have asked how you can help. Yes, you CAN make a difference!

Support the Ensign House Fire Fund

Link to CCX Media Story

Working together for success

OP provides important step in process

Our community is better when we all work together.

Cannon Equipment, a Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway Company, helps companies improve their operations and gain efficiencies by designing custom material handling carts, equipment, conveyance and aftermarket parts. Their commitment to community is strong.

Rick works on weighing bags of sand to fill test boxes.

Rick works on weighing bags of sand to fill test boxes.

Like Opportunity Partners, the people at Cannon Equipment are problem-solvers at heart. They needed to assemble “test pallets,” which are sent with each new conveyor system. The boxes require a specific weight of sand inside, and colored dots and bar codes on each box to be detected by the conveyor system. Cannon Equipment found it difficult to keep up with the demand for the box assembly so turned to OP to help solve their workforce challenge.

OP recommended a Vendor Managed Inventory program, which allows a seamless solution. OP handles the procurement of the materials and assembles the pallets to Cannon Equipment’s forecast.

This project is a great example of OP teamwork as each step allows people with varied skill levels to contribute. One day recently, Rick scooped sand into bags and weighed them, while Alex taped boxes. Meanwhile, Rebecca and Victor stuck dots and bar codes onto boxes and stacked them on a pallet. In all, OP has assembled more than 17,000 boxes since starting the job last summer.

John Evans, Cannon Equipment’s Director of HR, Health & Safety, said Opportunity Partners is a valuable partner. “This was a new project for us and we had our own employees putting the boxes together for the first few weeks, including our senior management on the weekends, before we began working with OP.”

He added that OP enables Cannon Equipment to have a reliable and timely supply of the testing boxes and frees up its own employees to concentrate on more complex assembly operations.

John said he would recommend Opportunity Partners to other companies. “OP has been very helpful, reliable, responsive, timely and cost-effective.”

Contact us today for help with packaging, shrink-wrapping, kitting, collating and labeling. Call 952-930-4201 or email partner@opportunities.org

Residence fire – thank you for your support

On June 12, OP’s Ensign residence in New Hope was heavily damaged by fire. We are so thankful that a resident and staff who were home were able to get out safely! Three gentlemen have been displaced from their home of 20 years, yet they are safe and staying with family and friends.

Our insurance adjusters have declared the house a total loss.

As we continue to work toward a new home for these residents, we know there will be significant gaps in uncovered costs. Your support will be critical.

Our goal is to raise up to $300,000 to rebuild or purchase a new home. 

Many of you have asked how you can help. Yes, you CAN make a difference. 

Support the Ensign House Fire Fund

Full story can be viewed on WCCO.

Join us for the Success Celebration!

You are invited to the 2019 Success Celebration! Join us on Sunday, September 15 at the Hyland Hills Chalet in Bloomington for an afternoon celebrating the outstanding individuals we serve at Opportunity Partners.

Purchase tickets online here. All attendees must purchase tickets by September 6th.

Please contact psrc@opportunities.org with any questions.

Schedule of events:

  • 3:00 p.m. Check-in, games & dance
  • 4:30 p.m. Awards program
  • 5:00 p.m. Dinner

KARE 11 recognizes OP-Asplin art program

Life Enrichment Award from Mohr

Our Asplin Center was featured on KARE 11 recently for its outstanding art program!

The program earned a 2019 Life Enrichment Award from the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) for the art program’s impact on increased pride, confidence and engagement among the people participating.

The award was presented at Asplin Center’s annual art show on May 30 in Plymouth.

Fire Starters making headlines

The Sun Sailor newspapers recently featured OP Fire Starters and our collaboration with the Three Rivers Park District. The parks are making the Fire Starters available at its campgrounds this summer. Workers at Opportunity Partners package the Minnesota-made product, which is also available on Amazon.

Read the full story on the Sun Sailor website.

OP to receive award from state disability organization

Opportunity Partners-Asplin Center, a day program serving people with disabilities in Plymouth, is receiving a Life Enrichment Award from the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) for an art program that provides therapy, increases pride, confidence and engagement among the people with disabilities it serves.

JT Buell pictured with his artwork

JT Buell pictured with his artwork

Presentation of the Life Enrichment Award is scheduled for Thursday, May 30 at 5 p.m. during the annual art show at Opportunity Partners-Asplin Center, 10000 51st Avenue North in Plymouth. The event runs from 4 to 7 p.m.

“Community-based providers are at the center of Minnesota’s effort to help people with disabilities to live fuller lives,” said MOHR President Julie Johnson. “Excellent programs give people options to engage and thrive in their communities.” The MOHR organization represents more than 100 such day programs across the state.

“People who thought they weren’t good at art, or perhaps were afraid to try it, have turned into artists,” said Julie Peters, communications director for Opportunity Partners. Asplin Center has had art instruction for years, but a new revival took place in 2016, after a remodeling drove the need for a more professional and inviting look on the inside walls, she explains.

Paintings and photographs from the individuals with disabilities at Asplin are chosen and hung throughout the building and a spring art show brings people in to admire the work, Peters said. “Some individuals have carried their newfound interest in art to their homes and community, as well.” Asplin Center serves 142 people.

A donation for art supplies and frames from a family served by Asplin sparked the art renewal. As artwork started going up on the walls, Peters said people got even more excited and things escalated. Art and photography classes went from two or three days a week to five, she said.

There’s a “person-centered” focus for the participants with disabilities, who choose the types of projects to take on. Peters said the instructor teaches skills such as shadowing, and artists share their own interests in picking out the type of project they would like to do to incorporate that skill. There are helpful social aspects, as well. “The individuals we serve are able to discuss the various elements and techniques used,” said Peters. “Art is a conversation starter!”

Johnson said Minnesota has always been a leader in the provision of services for people with disabilities, and MOHR members like Opportunity Partners play a crucial role. “We are connected as a community, and service providers are mission-driven by staff members who care deeply for the people they serve. That’s how individual lives are enriched.”

Asplin Center artists have taken their work offsite for display at a local library and at community art shows. Their designs also appear at other Opportunity Partners locations and the nonprofit prints art reproductions on notecards to distribute. An individual named Faith was very resistant to drawing. With coaching and practice, her skills improved, Peters explains. One of Faith’s drawings was featured on the Disability Services Day at the Capitol buttons worn by hundreds at the annual event in St. Paul.

The nonprofit’s state association and award organizer, MOHR, has a mission to advocate and support its nonprofit members in providing meaningful services to persons with disabilities and communities served.  Members are committed to respect for each individual, a person-centered approach and expanding opportunities. More information is available at mohrmn.org.

Living our values with my 88-year-old grandpa

At Opportunity Partners, I often talk about our values of Impact, Choice, Heart and Partnership as we work to advance the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Armando and Anselmo Camacho

Armando and Anselmo Camacho

However, I seldom talk about how these same values play out in our personal lives. I believe that when we recognize and embrace these values in all areas of our lives, it helps bring us even closer to these values in our work at OP.

Some of you may know that I came to Minnesota from Puerto Rico with my grandparents when I was 6 years old. My grandparents, who raised me, hoped for a better life for us here. I was fortunate to have many opportunities for education and employment as I grew into adulthood.

Four years ago, my grandma died, and my grandpa was struggling with health issues of his own. He gave up his apartment, and I helped find him an assisted living environment.

But recently, my grandpa, 88, had become increasingly unsatisfied here. His primary language is Spanish, and he struggled to communicate with frequently changing staff and often seemed confused due to his dementia.

However, one thing was clear: he said he wanted to return to his homeland of Puerto Rico to live closer to his sister and other relatives there.

At first, I did not think this would be possible. But then I began to consider how I might help my grandpa achieve this dream. In February, I bought my grandpa a one-way plane ticket and I traveled with him to get him resettled in Puerto Rico – in a place within walking distance to his sister.

As I worked through this major life change with my grandpa, the OP values of Impact, Choice, Heart and Partnership came to mind.

Impact – While my grandpa lived in the assisted living center, the staff around him worked to make a difference in his life. The senior care field faces similar challenges as the disability services sector in terms of staff wages, high turnover and budget constraints. I saw how the staff did the best they could in spite of these challenges, just as we do at OP.

Choice – At OP, we strive to help people lead self-directed lives as much as possible. We try to balance choice with the need for health and safety. In my grandpa’s case, his choice to move back to Puerto Rico was top in his mind. My job was to make sure my grandpa understood his decision fully, and that I found him a care center there that would meet his needs.

Heart – We strive to promote the dignity and worth of each other in our work at OP. For my grandpa, my desire to help him move back home centered around his dignity and worth. I did what I could to make it happen and to help make the transition smooth for him.

Partnership – Our work at OP depends on relationships, collaboration and advocacy. Likewise, for my grandpa, we have many medical and social service partners both here and in Puerto Rico that are working with us to coordinate his care and ensure his needs are met. As we say at OP – together, we are better!

In all, this experience with my grandpa has heightened my attention to the values of Impact, Choice, Heart and Partnership and why they are so important – not only at Opportunity Partners – but in all areas of our lives. And how the support of people like you – our OP “family” – makes all of our work possible.

Written by Armando Camacho, President & CEO, Opportunity Partners

Join us for the Asplin Center Art Show

Fire Work by JT Buell
Fire Work by JT Buell

Fire Work by JT Buell

Thursday, May 30, 2019 | 4:00–7:00 p.m.

Opportunity Partners – Asplin Center
10000 51st Avenue N. Plymouth, MN 55442

Join us for a group showing of art by our talented artists supported at Opportunity Partners–Asplin Center.

Brief award presentation by Minnesota Organization for Habilitation & Rehabilitation (MOHR) at 5:00 p.m.

For more information: Email Beth Honer at bhoner@opportunities.org or call (763) 550-1541.

Kraus-Anderson shares successes

During April’s Autism Awareness Month, Kraus-Anderson interviewed two of their employees about their experiences.


Jake O’Connor and Krystal Burton working on job closeouts.

Both individuals received job placement assistance through Opportunity Partners, and we are pleased to share their insights in this month’s blog post.

Thank you to Kraus-Anderson for their leadership over the years in hiring employees with diverse skills and abilities.

Read the full story here. 

Thank you for attending the gala!

We hope you enjoyed the evening and left inspired by the amazing stories and generous giving.

Your gifts truly have a significant impact on persons served by Opportunity Partners! View Sam’s story, a short video featured at the event.

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View more photos on our Facebook page.

Together, we can make a difference!

2019 Spaghetti Dinner

plate of spaghetti

You are invited to the 15th Annual Spaghetti Dinner sponsored by the Hopkins Noontime Lions Club!

Come enjoy spaghetti with meatballs or meatless sauce, salad, bread, dessert and a beverage. Takeout is also available.

When: Thursday, March 7, 2019, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: 5500 Opportunity Court, Minnetonka
Cost: Adults: $8, Children Under 12: $5, Families of 5 or more: $35

OP rallies at Capitol for improved funding

About 40 persons served and staff representing Opportunity Partners headed to the State Capitol on March 12 for the annual Disability Services Day. They were among an estimated 1,000 individuals, employees, families and advocates who gathered to rally, meet with legislators and speak out for changes in the sector.

More competitive wages for Direct Support Professionals to help with the severe workforce shortage, more sustainable funding for the future and many other issues were among the topics discussed.

Attendees waved signs stating “DSP – Darn Skilled Professionals,” “Support your Supports,” “Value Talent,” and “No More Cuts!”

Individuals served by OP’s hoMEbase apartment program in Coon Rapids met with Sen. Jerry Newton (District 37) to discuss the high turnover of staff due to low wages in the field.

One of the people served, Jessica, also told Sen. Newton about her challenges with prompt transportation to get to standing appointments each week. She has found some taxis to be unreliable, and said it causes stress on staff because they are already supporting other people who then have to adjust their schedules at the last minute because the taxi did not show up.

Katie Bronson, Assistant Program Manager at hoMEbase, said visiting the Capitol was a great experience for the individuals she supports.

“They all said they look forward to going next year and speaking up about better funding for the services they are provided on a daily basis,” Katie said.

Individuals from OP’s Asplin Center in Plymouth met with Rep. Ginny Klevorn (District 44A), sharing stories about their experiences with services. Becky talked about not making enough money, and Craig discussed his concern over the past 7 percent cut and high staff turnover.

In all, individuals enjoyed experiencing the high energy of the Capitol and look forward to continuing to talk with lawmakers about the importance of Home and Community-based Services for people with disabilities.

The House, Senate, Governor and Best Life Alliance have all put forward legislative proposals that:

  • Implement a Competitive Workforce Factor to address the 17 percent wage disparity between disability services wages and wages of occupations competing for the same workers.
  • Adjust the timing of the scheduled rate adjustments to every two years to better keep pace with actual economic conditions.

Learn more about disability services legislation being discussed at the Capitol.

Winning button design from OP-Asplin

Congratulations to Faith Hanson, who attends Opportunity Partners-Asplin Center, for submitting a winning button design in a contest put on by trade association ARRM. Faith’s design was one of two that were chosen for the buttons given to hundreds of advocates at Disability Services Day at the Capitol on March 12.

Faith did a great job creating a colorful and inclusive design! The other winning design was submitted by Quinn Metcalf of MRCI.

Each year, Asplin Center hosts an art show for persons served, families and staff to showcase the beautiful art and photography from individuals who practice their skills in classes at Asplin Center.

Read more about the button artwork in ARRM’s blog post.

How to get started

An Opportunity Partners representative is ready to answer your questions or discuss the many ways we can partner with you. Get started today