OP’s leader President & CEO Armando Camacho has accepted a new position as President & CEO of Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, providing services to support mental health, housing stability, early childhood development, and healthy aging for thousands of people throughout the Greater Saint Paul community.
Armando’s last day with Opportunity Partners will be June 26. While we are very sad to see him leave OP, we know this is an amazing opportunity for Armando.
Armando has led OP with great energy and wisdom since January 2014. He worked with team members to develop a new organizational mission, vision and values that everyone embraced, and created a person-centered, collaborative organization with mission at the core. Armando has demonstrated compassion and positivity throughout the challenges of the pandemic, leaving OP well-positioned financially and with a strong leadership team to continue moving forward in the years ahead.
Per our succession plan, Bill Schultz, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Operations, has been named Interim President & CEO. Bill joined Opportunity Partners in 2015, bringing more than 20 years of experience including several years as a CEO.
We wish Armando the best in this new opportunity!

May 9, 2020
Thanks to the Uptake for sharing this important story about our critical services for people with disabilities!
Even during a pandemic, our essential work continues!
Read full article here: https://theuptake.org/2020/05/09/caregiving-during-a-pandemic-its-apples-and-eggplants/

 

Our annual gala has been rescheduled to Friday, Oct. 2. We will be so excited to see you all again, and we want to sincerely thank everyone who continues to show us such kindness and support during these challenging times.

Our April fundraising campaign was highly successful, thanks to you! We raised more than $85,000 as of May 5, well above our goal of $60,000. It warms our hearts to have such an amazing community all around us. If you would still like to make a gift, please go to opportunities.networkforgood.com. Money raised will go toward the added costs of staffing and supplies in serving people in their residences during the stay-at-home orders.


We are incredibly grateful for our many gala sponsors who are so generous with their support. 


Gala tickets and information is available here, or contact events@opportunities.org

We are stronger together!

Thank you for your generosity!

Thanks to you, we exceeded our fundraising goal and raised more than $85,000 as of May 5.

Now as we look ahead to our rescheduled gala on October 2, we are grateful to have the support of so many friends like you. If you would still like to make a gift, please go to opportunities.networkforgood.com.

 



We are less than $1,000 away from reaching our goal!

While we wish we were together at our gala today, we have a special message from our event co-emcees!

Last day to donate! 



We are so close to reaching our goal!

We are now just $3,975 away from raising $60,000! We are so grateful. Watch this special thank you message.



This week your support is needed now more than ever!

Learn why your gift is so important from OP board member Ann Yekaldo.


Your support means Lori is healthy and safe, thanks to you!

Watch her special message of gratitude for you during this critical time.

We’ll share more stories from around OP in the coming weeks, and watch for ways you can help. We are better together!


Your support means we can still have fun in the kitchen!

Watch as program manager, Josiah, and the Girard house residents stay safe at home cooking and learning new recipes.


Watch this special message from President & CEO Armando Camacho. 

We are so grateful for all who have reached out to see how the recent events have impacted the people served at OP. Although our day services have temporarily closed (60 percent of our annual revenue), we continue to provide support to 400 individuals at home and in select community jobs. As many families are increasingly separated from their loved ones at this time, it is imperative that we continue to provide vital supports. We also must be ready to serve the community that counts on OP in the future.

May 2, 2020

The Star Tribune included Opportunity Partners in this important story about how the pandemic is impacting fundraising and events at organizations like ours.

We are so grateful for the community’s support during these trying times!

Read full article here: https://www.startribune.com/minnesota-nonprofits-are-in-survival-mode-shifting-galas-and-fundraising-online-during-covid-19/570146971/

April 24, 2020

Thanks to the Sun Sailor for sharing news about how the pandemic is affecting Opportunity Partners and ways the community can help.

Thanks to everyone who is rallying around OP in so many ways!

Read the full article: https://www.hometownsource.com/sun_sailor/free/opportunity-partners-postpones-may-gala-launches-online-fundraiser/article_1a645fd6-8647-11ea-871a-3b8f0158bf0b.html

April 15, 2020

Thanks to CCX Media for showcasing how the pandemic is impacting Opportunity Partners. We are all in this together! 

The novel coronavirus has impacted nearly every aspect of society, and many social service agencies have been hit especially hard.

Read the full article: https://ccxmedia.org/news/opportunity-partners-helps-people-with-disabilities-despite-covid-19-challenge/

 

Latest Update
June 24, 2020

We hope you and your family are doing well and enjoying the start of summer. It has been three months since our day programs closed due to the pandemic, and we know this has been challenging for everyone. We look forward to when it will be safe to gather again!

The good news is we have now received clear guidance from the Minnesota Department of Human Services allowing a very limited reopening, which we’ve linked and summarized below. However, the rules still do not allow us to fully reopen yet, which means some people will have to wait longer before returning to day services. While this may be frustrating, we know the state has everyone’s health and safety top of mind.

You can read the state guidelines in their entirety. In summary:

  • Everyone, regardless of where they live and their risk for COVID-19 complications, has the right to make an informed choice about community employment services.
  • Onsite day services at one of our facilities may only be provided to people living in their own homes or family homes. Unfortunately, we are only able to offer remote services at this time for those living in licensed residential settings.
  • Occupancy is limited to a maximum of 50 people per facility, including staff.
  • We must deliver services in shifts with a maximum of three hours per person per day. Cohorts must be set up of 10 or fewer people, including staff, throughout the program day.
  • We must have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in place and enact extensive health and safety procedures including health screening, masks, social distancing and frequent cleaning. See OP’s plan summary.

These state guidelines regarding size and hour limits mean we cannot yet reopen all of our facilities. We will start by opening our Asplin Center in Plymouth by late June to a few individuals focusing on production work. This first phase includes individuals who were receiving services at Asplin prior to the pandemic, as well as those from our other four locations.

We also have made a very difficult decision to not renew the lease of our Anoka County facility in Coon Rapids when it expires in late July. We plan to continue to to serve the Anoka area through community-based services and employment options but will not have a facility presence there.

In additional news, we’ve started doing remote services for a limited number of individuals, which has gone very well, and we recently received state permission to expand these services to people living in group homes. As we’ve done throughout the pandemic, we continue to support people in OP residential programs and those who work in the community at their own jobs or with an OP Supported Employment Team (SET). Gradually, we will ramp back up our day services as quickly and safely as we can, while remaining patient and flexible as we navigate this ever-changing situation.

As far as next steps, OP staff have been reaching out to individuals and teams about interest in returning to day services and adapting to our new health and safety procedures. People who have not yet heard from us should email services@opportunities.org or call 952-930-4202 for more information.

To view our COVID-19 updates, please see previous updates below. Our procedures will be modified as needed with the health and safety of persons served and staff as our top priority. If you do not currently receive emails from OP and would like to, please contact info@opportunities.org to be added to our list.

Thank you and please stay safe.

Latest UpdatePrevious UpdatesLearn more about COVID-19


Previous Updates:


If you would like to learn more about COVID-19, please see the following web sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Minnesota Department of Health: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

As always, if you have questions please contact your OP representative or email info@opportunities.org. Thank you!

According to the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance, 100,000 Minnesotans live with a disability due to a brain injury. Opportunity Partners’ specialized brain injury services help people rediscover their world. Whether it is mastering new skills, living more independently, or working successfully, our goal is to transition people back into living a fulfilling life.


Meet a few of our participants!

Barb is a hard worker and committed to success. Barb sustained a brain injury at age 15 as the result of a rare illness. Now 56, Barb attends our brain injury program three days per week where she gains work and coping skills in a supportive environment. “The staff are very loving people,” she remarked, adding that someday she hopes to acquire her dream job as an activities assistant in a nursing home. “I’m not going to give up,” she said. “I might make some mistakes but I’ll keep going.”

Rick, 52, is always willing to try new activities and go out of his comfort zone. Rick sustained a brain injury as the result of a car accident. He attends our brain injury program three days per week, where staff have seen great progress over the last year. He’s expanding his horizons, going bowling, out to coffee shops and volunteering in the community as part of his enrichment classes at OP. “I have friends here,” he said. “I like the atmosphere, and I have fun.”


Opportunity Partners offers one of the only structured day programs in the Twin Cities for people with brain injury. We also offer pre-vocational and vocational programs.

Learn more about our brain injury services here.

 

Hopkins Noontime Lions Club Spaghetti Dinner

16th Annual Benefit for Opportunity Partners

Fill your plate with pasta and help support people with disabilities living and working in the community at the Hopkins Noontime Lions Club spaghetti dinner benefiting nonprofit organization Opportunity Partners. The event is on Thursday, March 5 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Opportunity Partners-Koch Campus, 5500 Opportunity Court, Minnetonka.

The cost of the dinner is $8 for adults, $5 for children under 12, and $35 for families or groups of 5 or more. Tickets are available at the door.

The menu includes spaghetti with meatballs or meatless sauce, salad, bread, dessert and a beverage. Take-out is also available.

For more information about the event, contact Grace at 952-912-7442 or events@opportunities.org.


You made a difference! Thank you for giving from your heart on Give to the Max Day. You helped us exceed our goal, with $33,200 raised. Thanks to you, we can continue to be champions for inclusion in our community. Together, we are better!

Give to the Max Day is November 14th! You can support your favorite nonprofit organizations, including Opportunity Partners. Help us raise $30,000 for our mission of advancing the quality of life for people with disabilities. Your support means we can continue to do so much more. You can schedule your gift starting on November 1st. We are grateful for the generous Opportunity Partners family who will match your gift, dollar-for-dollar.

Don’t miss this opportunity to have an even greater impact – make your gift and have it doubled, up to $10,000. Consider making your gift on Minnesota’s largest day of charitable giving – Give to the Max Day!

By Kate Harahan, Opportunity Partners Board of Directors.

When I think about why I support Opportunity Partners, it is all about a constant theme in my life – being an advocate. For as long as I can remember, my life has been about supporting and believing in people who have unique needs.

This goes all the way back to 3rd grade and Bobby K. He lived with Down syndrome – and was my very best friend … and gave the greatest hugs of all time.

In 2009, being an advocate came back in full force, when at the age of 20, I was working full time and attending school full time. I thought I could take on the world. I feel asleep at the wheel and was in a car crash that resulted in the amputation of my right leg, a lengthy hospital stay and a lifetime of recovery.

So many aspects of life that I never thought to be thankful for became a major struggle or impossible overnight. Most importantly, I had to learn how to become an advocate for myself while navigating my new normal and a life of living with a permanent physical disability.

In 2011, my father, in his early 50’s was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I certainly didn’t anticipate being an advocate for a parent especially in my mid-twenties!

I remember the first time he wanted to go for a walk alone, I told him “not a chance!” and as I was saying it, I realized what was coming out of my mouth. I was taking away his freedom and how unfair for me to try to put him in a bubble because I was scared. All he needed me to do was support him and advocate for him to live a life that he desires, regardless of his new diagnosis.

These are just a few examples of why the people Opportunity Partners serves and the OP community resonate with me personally. I realize our connection with the disability community is often different, yet our experiences can be oddly similar, and that is why being an advocate is important.

For me and my family, philanthropy is not transactional. It is a mindset and a way of life. It’s about being an advocate for what you believe in and donating your time and money to the causes that are in our hearts. I can say without hesitation, Opportunity Partners has a big place in my heart and I hope that it does in yours too.

If you’d like to support Opportunity Partners, consider making a gift online. Thank you for your generosity!

 

Group at Arby's

Group at Arby'sArby’s in the Twin Cities was named an Outstanding Disability Employer by the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) during National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October. Opportunity Partners, who nominated Arby’s, supports employees at Arby’s restaurants in Plymouth, Minnetonka, St. Louis Park and St. Paul.

“Arby’s welcomes people with disabilities as employees right away, working to integrate them in their workplace culture,” said Ben Kopnick, Opportunity Partners “Together Works Better” coordinator. Managers and staff work to put people into positions where they are most likely to succeed, he explains.

Opportunity Partners is also a key element in this equation. “They are here frequently in the beginning, helping out as needed and making sure that the new team member not only fits our needs, but that we fit their needs as well,” said Rexanne Mullihan, area supervisor for Arby’s Restaurant Group.

Staff from the service organization stop in to monitor employees’ progress and keep in touch with Mullihan. “The support has been awesome,” she said.

Kopnick said Arby’s communicates well and does so consistently. “This ensures the highest possible level of support for the employee,” he explains. The restaurants also add their own “natural supports” to help employees with disabilities. Staff show kindness and empathy, and workers supported by Opportunity Partners know who to ask when they need something. Additionally, through the successes and difficulties, situations are handled in an appropriate and professional manner, Kopnick said.

Mullihan said job placements from Opportunity Partners clean tables in dining rooms, greet and thank guests and engage them in conversation as they become more comfortable. Beverage, condiment and napkin areas are cleaned. Team members from the nonprofit also fill orders, work with slicers and fryers. One individual took on more duties to become a proficient order taker during lunchtime on weekdays.

“Together Works Better” is a grant-based program created by Opportunity Partners that provides onsite support through peer mentorships and supplemental taxi transportation for workers. This causes faster integration into the workplace, with the majority of support in the first 90 days of employment, Kopnick explains.

The restaurants challenge their employees by adding job responsibilities and promoting them when merited, Kopnick said. “This allows them to push themselves and grow their skillsets.” Employees placed at Arby’s by Opportunity Partners are quite satisfied.

“Dining room ambassadors” take pride in helping clean the dining area, said Kopnick. There’s enjoyment in interacting with customers, learning new skills and getting paid for it. People with disabilities are in visible roles at the restaurants, which further illustrates their value to the organization, he explains.

MOHR represents more than 100 disability service providers across the state. Its mission is 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 work opportunities.

Read more in the Sun Sailor newspaper.

OP’s annual Success Celebration, held on September 15 at the Hyland Hills Chalet in Bloomington, recognized “Out of This World Success” with awards in the categories of Impact, Choice, Heart, Partnership and Spirit.

Armando pictured with Success Celebration winners Warren (Spirit ), Alan (Partnership) and Torin (Impact).

Whether landing a new job, increasing independence at home, advocating for one’s beliefs, or achieving a major goal, these successes all enhance quality of life.

Impact Award – for creating positive influence through volunteering, education and work.

Torin earned the Impact Award for his achievements in competitive, integrated employment.

After taking classes and gaining work skills on the Best Buy Supported Employment Team, he made the choice to enroll in employment services and began his journey to independent employment. He explored a variety of opportunities before zeroing in on Home Depot as his employment goal. He wanted a job where he could help people and that was close to home.  He identified the lot attendant position at the Richfield Home Depot as a good match for his skills and goals.

With a little support, he completed the application, nailed it on his interview and accepted the position he wanted. Recently, Torin was credited by a parent as being an inspiration to a peer by sharing job experiences and encouraging his peer to participate in our employment program called Together Works Better. Recently, when asked if he would like to be a peer mentor for an employment exploration participant, Torin said yes without hesitation. In the words of the mentee, “Torin had a lot of information for me. Torin was helpful about employment. He was very kind and patient about answering the questions that I asked.  I feel more confident.”

Choice Award – for building a self-directed life.

Emily earned the Choice Award for committing to a budget. A few months ago, Emily’s staff helped her figure out a budget. The staff didn’t hear anything about it for a while until she asked Emily one day about it. Emily told staff she had been following the budget, hadn’t over-drafted her checking account, and had managed to save $600! She even told staff that she has now become addicted to saving!

Emily is working hard to plan for future emergencies and events and is excited to be able to provide for her family. Emily’s choice to manage her finances is paying off in big ways. 

Heart Award – for promoting the dignity and worth of others.

Ken C. earned the Heart Award for being such a hard worker and a good person. In June, Opportunity Partners’ Ensign House – Ken’s home- was destroyed in a fire. He has experienced several moves since then, including staying at an extended stay hotel and finally a group home being leased from another organization, while Opportunity Partners is working on a permanent housing solution for Ken and his housemates. In spite of this tragic situation, Ken has still been coming to work daily and working hard. He is also helpful to staff and to the people who work around him. Ken was nominated in the Heart category because of the courage he has displayed while dealing with the disruption, and for giving it his all in spite of such trying circumstances.

Partnership Award – fostering relationships to enrich one’s life or the community.

Alan earned the Partnership Award for his growth in independence. Over the last year Alan has worked hard to make his own choices and create opportunities for growth for himself. The key to this growth has come from learning how to manage his Metro Mobility rides independently. In the past, Alan depended on staff at OP and at home to manage his rides and activities for him. Since learning how to set up demand rides, Alan is active every weekend and has started inviting other persons served by OP to movies, restaurants and shopping.

He has created a social group that regularly meets up to get coffee or watch movies. Alan has become more independent over the last year and takes a great amount of pride in planning activities.

Spirit Award – personifying Opportunity Partners’ mission, vision and values in daily life.

Warren earned the Spirit Award for keeping a positive attitude during times of change. He’s maintaining relationships, advocating for himself, and promoting other’s value and worth as well.

Last fall, Warren discovered that after 20 years of living in a home with two other men, he would have to move out. Opportunity Partners had provided in-home staff for Warren and his roommates every morning and evening, seven days a week. Warren was accustomed to and relied on having staff readily available. Fortunately, Warren and one of his roommate’s teams were able to find an apartment for the two of them to continue living together. When they transitioned to this apartment, Warren adapted to not having staff available every day. He has become more independent and self-sufficient.

Warren has handled all of these changes and more with an upbeat and enthusiastic nature. He is a wonderful communicator and advocates for himself on a daily basis. He is also an avid volunteer for events throughout the year, and has not let all the changes slow him down.

Special thanks to the OP Person Served Recognition Committee for all their hard work in planning the Success Celebration. They include: Hannah Woodie, Emily McDonald, Jesse Millard-Dernell, Shari Mason, Heather Brueske, Colette Durr, Katie Sullivan and Joshua Haider.

 

 

How to get started

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