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The 'SpotLight' Online

September 2000
Conference Edition

National Rehabilitation Association Restructuring Proposal Outline
Click Here!



The MRA Fall Training Conference is only a few months away!

The theme for the Fall Conference in Mankato will be "Building Bridges Breaking Barriers." This theme was borrowed from our keynote speaker, Hedy LaMar. Hedy will discuss cultural diversity and Generation X. She comes highly recommended from one of our very own members.

Joan Breslin Larson from the Department of Children, Families and Learning will present on working with transition students. Topics will include assistive technology and the coordination of funding sources from the interdisciplinary team members. Melinda Shamp from Rise will explore how consumer choice is important to attaining meaningful employment outcomes. The topic of setting up a home based office will be discussed by ergonomics expert Barbara O'Keefe. Home based employment seems to be a hot topic.

The ever challenging topic of Social Security Work Incentives will be presented again. Joani Werner and a team of experts from Social Security will discuss PASS (Plan for Achieving Self Sufficiency) plans. Robin Jones from the Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center in Chicago will present on ADA case studies and on accommodating psychiatric disabilities.

Let's not forget to discuss the changes in store at the National Rehabilitation Association. Connie Giles and Steve Larson (Past MRA Presidents) will update us on changes and the response from the MRA subcommittee working on these issues. Ethics complaints will be discussed by Ed Adams from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

With MRA tradition, we will have a variety of MRA Awards presentations on Thursday evening. President Jodi Lindsay Prange will emcee the event.

Did I mention entertainment? This year we will be serenaded by the wonderful Minnesotan Legend Kenny G. Lundquist and his psychedelic polka band. This year will feature a Halloween Costume party, so pack your best costume. Wednesday night festivities take place at Chevy's Grill right next to the Holiday Inn. Fun activities will be happening. Here is a hint, tune up your singing voice.

All of this fun will take place at the Holiday Inn in downtown Mankato. See you in Mankato this October!



What would it take...

To look forward to coming to work
To get excited about and look forward to the events of the day?
To stimulate an exciting, high energy, work atmosphere?

Interested? Consider FISH Camp!

Fish Camp is a nationally recognized training experience designed to help stimulate a high performing, playful culture at work. You will learn ways to add a little spice to your work life, strategies to foster fun interaction with co-workers, and information describing how increased moral pays off in enhanced service to our consumers. Bring a friend!

To sign up for camp, look for joint MRCA/rCAM pre-conference registration materials inside the Spotlight.

Rehabilitation professionals and area employers are invited to attend this exciting workshop. Come and learn about the FISH! Philosophy, which is sweeping the nation and being incorporated into many local/national organizations in order to:

Rekindle spirit, increase morale and creative energy
Manage stress and maintain perspective
Attract and retain customers/clients to increase customer satisfaction and expand business
Attract and retain talent to become an employer of choice

What is the FISH! Philosophy?

1. Play &endash; Be fun, creative and spontaneous at work (yet retaining professionalism.)

2. Make Their Day &endash; Do something special for customers and staff

3. Be There &endash; Focus on the moment and the persons/tasks you're presently engaged with

4. Choose Your Attitude &endash; Be fully aware of our attitudes and make positive choices

Presented by Bob Doyle, MA, Senior Consultant with Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, MN. Bob specializes in organizational development and has over 20 years of experience in both line and staff management roles. He is a trained FISH! Facilitator and gifted in presentation skills.



By Jodi Lindsay Prange, MRA President

Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers is such a fitting theme for our Fall Conference. A bridge has been recently built and our colleagues with MRCA will be crossing over and attending the first ever joint rCAM/MRCA pre-conference. What an excellent opportunity to engage in true partnership and at the same time attend "Fish Camp". Although no fishing experience is required, you must come prepared to learn and have fun! After this session, MRA will be hosting a "welcome back from camp party", even if you were not able to attend camp, please join us for appetizers and refreshments.

I would like to thank each and every one of you that took the time to complete and return the NRA/MRA Survey. The response was great! This information was not only used to determine how the Minnesota delegates would vote on the restructuring, but will be used in building and cultivating a stronger association in Minnesota. Below are the survey results:

If you were a delegate from Minnesota, how would you vote on the NRA Restructuring?

Yes (22%) No (57%) Undecided (21%)

How satisfied are you with the membership benefits you receive from NRA?

1(unsatisfied) -10 (very satisfied) Average Response: 3.7

How satisfied are you with the membership benefits you receive from MRA?

Average Response: 7.7

Please list the top 3 reasons you belong to NRA:

Professional Liability Insurance
Journal of Rehabilitation
National Issues
Have to be a member of MRA

Please list the top 3 reason to belong to MRA:


Do you believe MRA needs NRA to accomplish what you would like your membership to accomplish?

Yes (28%) No (65%) Undecided (6%)

Minnesota was granted five votes on the NRA reorganization. To ensure that the membership was allowed the opportunity to be heard, we placed four (4) votes against the restructuring and one (1) for it. The decision to vote this way was based off response to question one on the survey. To learn about the outcome of the NRA restructuring vote and also to discuss the future of MRA, please attend the Friday Luncheon session at the Conference. You might want to remember that Fabulous door prizes will be given away…and you must be present to win.

See you in Mankato!




MRA Fall Conference will be held at:

the Holiday Inn, Mankato, October 25-27, 2000.



MRA Fall Conference
Halloween Costume Dance,
Thurs, Oct. 26

GRAND prizes to be awarded for hotel/resort stays!

Come in costume or pay the consequences?!

Need some help finding a costume?
Call Costumes Galore in Mankato
(507) 386-0207


JPD Presents...
Introduction to Job Placement Essentials

Date: 11/17/00

Time: 8:30 am to 12:00 pm

Registration: 8:00 am

Cost: $30.00/person

Location: Employers Association, Inc., 9805 45th Avenue North, Plymouth, MN 55442

A Panel Presentation of Placement Professionals From A Diverse Group of Community Placement Agencies:

The most important thing a new placement professional needs to know
Sales Techniques used in job placement
What to know when working with individuals with disabilities
Important personal factors for a successful placement professional
How to develop relationships with employers, participants, and referrals
What to do when a participant has 'unrealistic' job goals or salary expectations




Your name, address and/or place of employment? Be sure to let us know so you can continue to receive valuable information from MRA, NRA and the Spotlight!

Contact Mark Mertens, Membership Chair with any changes. He can be reached at 320-231-5175 or by e-mail: [email protected]

Or you can let us, your editors, know and we'll pass on the information to Mark.





By Rochelle Betsch

The Job Placement and Development Division of MRA has been busy this summer. On June 9th, we held an all-day training on the ADA and Workplace Accommodations. We had two employment attorneys speak in the morning, and an afternoon of panel speakers, including three accommodation specialists from prominent Minnesota employers, Rehabilitation Engineer, Diane Goodwin, and JPD's own Wally Waranka. Surveys from our participants indicated attendees were very pleased with the training. All JPD members who worked on the training were also happy with the outcome.

After wrapping up details from the June training we began work on our next training, an Introduction to Job Placement Essentials to be held November 17th at the Plymouth location of the Employers Association, Inc. This half day training will be a panel presentation for professionals new to the job placement field. JPD is also very excited to continue to work with Rehab Engineer, Diane Goodwin, in providing information and assistance to her as she is working on a grant proposal to develop a CD-ROM database of rehab technology.

JPD is looking forward to a strong Happenings Book sale this fall. Be sure to contact your favorite JPD member to reserve a copy of the Happenings Book, the cost will again be $25/book. We look forward to seeing everyone at the fall conference. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about JPD, our November 17th training, or the purchase of a Happenings book please feel free to call Rochelle at: 651-457-2248, extension 12.



rCAM, the Rehabilitation Counselor's Association of Minnesota, a division of the Minnesota Rehabilitation Association, is again excited to announce the availability of two Scholarships targeted for a student pursuing a Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling! One scholarship will be funded through rCAM and the second will be funded through MRA.

A scholarship in the amount of $500.00 will be awarded to the two students who are ranked the highest as measured by the following criteria:

  • A resident of Minnesota
  • Enrolled in a Minnesota graduate program in Rehabilitation Counseling as of September 15, 2000
  • Maintaining a 3.0 GPA
  • Intends to practice Rehabilitation Counseling in Minnesota upon graduation

Interested applicants are asked to do the following:


1. Submit a brief (1-2 page) written request that:

  • Confirms the above criteria,
  • describes how and why a scholarship would reduce the financial burden in completing your studies,
  • your interest in Rehabilitation Counseling as a career.
  • include full address and phone number with submission.


2. Submit at least one letter of reference from a faculty member with your application. Only submissions that meet the stated criteria will be considered. rCAM would like the recipient to attend the "Awards Banquet" during the October MRA Conference and will contribute up to an additional $75.00 to offset actual costs of attending the Awards Banquet if he or she is able to attend.

For more information or to apply for the scholarship feel free to contact:

Richard Wagner
Rehabilitation Services
14551 County Road 11, Suite 140
Burnsville, MN 55337
Phone 952-431-9414

rCAM is designated to award this scholarship based on a review of all applicants. The final deadline for submitting applications must be received or postmarked before or on September 15, 2000. The scholarship award will be announced at the MRA Fall Conference in Mankato which will be held October 25 through 27, 2000. Award recipients will be notified prior to the conference as soon as the selection has been made.



Rich Wagner, President, rCAM

This is a request for nominees for the Rehabilitation Counselor's Association of Minnesota (rCAM) Counselor of the Year Award for the year 2000. This award was established in 1965 to promote "recognition of the pursuit and attainment of excellence in counseling persons with disabilities." rCAM requests nominees for this award on an annual basis and the nominee chosen is announced at the MRA fall conference. The deadline for nominations is September 30,2000.

Why should you bother with a nomination? We all know of counselors that work hard and do a great job, but by the nature of our business rarely receive recognition from those of us who understand and can appreciate the effort that goes into how they approach their jobs. This award is just a small way to publically let them know that we recognize them for the excellence of their work and appreciate the time and effort that goes into consistently performing at a high level to improve the lives of people with disabilities. You know who they are. Please consider making a nomination.

Note that a rehabilitation counselor does not have to be a NRA member or a certified rehabilitation counselor to be nominated for the Minnesota award, but must meet the following criteria to advance to regional and national competition:

1. Nominee must be employed as a full-time counselor working with a caseload of persons with disabilities.

2. Nominee's efforts should far exceed standard performance.

3. Nominee's accomplishments should be recognized by co-workers, supervisors, and community.

4. Nominee should exemplify individual achievement in the field of rehabilitation counseling as well as community activities.

General instructions:

1. Nomination packets can be requested from Rich Wagner. E-mail me at [email protected] or call me at (952) 431-9414 and leave a complete message where the packet should be forwarded to.

2. Deadline for completed nomination packets is September 30, 2000 and should be sent to Rich Wagner, RSB, 14551 County Road 11, Suite 140, Burnsville, MN. 55337. The packet does take some time to complete, however, if you begin to process the nomination materials as soon as you receive them you should be able to complete them well within the deadline.

3. Please type all information except where signatures are indicated.

4. Judging will be done by the awards committee based on completeness and content of the nomination.

Feel free to call or e-mail if you have questions.




(For more information or nomination forms, please contact the representative listed. Please also note that each division has their own awards committee.)



Doreen Hoffman, [email protected]

Support Staff Person of the Year

Presented to any support person, who has exhibited a dedication to the field of rehabilitation through outstanding performance on the job and/or related outside activities.



Susan Luce, [email protected]

Professional of the Year

Presented to an individual who has made a positive impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities, and is an exceptional vocational evaluator or work adjustment specialist.



Rich Wagner, [email protected]

Rehabilitation Counselor of the Year

Presented to a rehabilitation counselor for doing exceptional work in the field of vocational rehabilitation.



Mary Jo Nohava,

Small Metro and Small Non Metro Employer

Presented to employers with less than 100 employees which actively recruits, demonstrates a willingness of make necessary accommodations and seeks out assistance for their employee with a disability.

Large Metro and Large Non Metro Employer

Presented to employers with over 100 employees which actively recruits, demonstrates a willingness of make necessary accommodations and seeks out assistance for their employee with a disability.

JPD Placement Person of the Year and Non JPD Placement Person of the Year

Presented to individuals who demonstrate outstanding leadership and abilities in the areas of job placement, job development and follow up. They have exemplary achievements placing persons with disabilities. For member category, also demonstrates active participation in JPD.



A variety of MRA Awards are available each year for nomination. The awards will be presented at the Fall MRA conference. Persons receiving the awards will be selected by the Awards Committee from nominations submitted by MRA members. The Awards Committee=s decision on all nominees is final. The committee also reserves the right to withhold an award based on lack of nominees. We hope to have a number of nominations in each category.

The deadline for award nominations is October 2, 2000. Nomination letters describing how the nominee meets the award criteria should be sent to:

Dawn LaRue-Wittwer
State Services for the Blind
2200 University Avenue West #240
St. Paul, MN 55114
[email protected]
(651) 642-0592

Categories are as follows:

Mary Carlson Award

Presented to a person with a disability who has been successfully employed for a period in excess of one year. Particular attention will be paid to individuals whose accomplishments serve as examples of determination and application of special skills to overcome a vocational impediment. Stability of work, severity of disability and uniqueness of the placement will be factors used in judging.


Meritorious Service Award

Presented to individuals who have demonstrated faithful service to the association through their contributions to their profession as well as to the community. This is an MRA internal award. Consideration will be given both to quantitative and qualitative aspects of the leadership and service provided.


Minnesota Citation

This award is presented to a public sector individual or organization of State prominence who/which has made significant contributions toward enrichment of the lives of people with disabilities. The award may apply to professionals delivering service, volunteers, or any other individual who has championed the cause of people with disabilities.


The President's Award

Given to an individual or organization in the private sector who/which has demonstrated outstanding achievement on behalf of people with disabilities. The recipient of this award must have been involved in activity over the preceding years which has resulted in major and significant contributions to the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities on a statewide basis.


The Hubert H. Humphrey Distinguished Service Award

This award is presented to an outstanding political figure who has demonstrated leadership in improving the service system for people with disabilities in the State of Minnesota. Consideration will be given to persons with long-standing commitment to rehabilitation. Special attention will be given to individuals who have dealt creatively with problems in the tradition of Hubert H. Humphrey.




Pinky Swear: The Gift of a Lifetime

Dawn M. Chicilo is a rehabilitation counselor, wife, mother and newly published author of Pinky Swear: The Gift of a Lifetime.

Pinky Swear is the true story of one woman's quest to fulfill a deathbed promise while seeking to heal the wounds of her own loss. From a sleepy town in rural Minnesota, to the inspirational red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, to the island refuge of Key West, Florida, you journey with her as she searches for answers &endash; answers that can only come from within.

As she travels through this inner landscape of grief, you meet a cast of real-life characters whose love, hope and faith are tested to the limit as they conquer fear, pain, anger and even guilt. Experience all the highs and lows, as she courageously learns and shows you how to live, laugh and love again.

On a solo charter in the Gulf of Mexico, she reaches the crossroads of her journey. She understands that she must let go of the past to fulfill the promise. At last, she is free to go home where all the pieces begin to slip into place and she learns the simple truth &endash; her dying sister gave her the gift of a lifetime.

Since loss is universal, all of us at one time have experienced &endash; or will experience the death of someone we love. As Christine Clifford, best selling author of Not Now . . . I'm Having a No Hair Day!, wrote in the foreword, "Pinky Swear will take the reader on a journey of his or her own &endash; one that will ultimately leave you laughing and crying for this gift that we call life." Pinky Swear is a farewell gift to us all.

Chicilo lives with her husband David, and their children, Scott, Christian and Alex, in Shoreview, Minnesota. She has a master's degree in counseling and a bachelor's degree in psychology, with an emphasis on death and dying, from St. Cloud State University. She is a nationally certified rehabilitation counselor, licensed qualified rehabilitation consultant, licensed professional counselor for the state of Wisconsin, and rehabilitation review panel member for the state of Minnesota. She is a professional speaker and the owner of Chicilo & Associates, Inc., a private vocational rehabilitation consulting firm in North Oaks, Minnesota. This is her true story.

To order copies of Pinky Swear: The Gift of a Lifetime (ISBN 0-9678920-0-7, hardcover, $16.95) contact TreeHouse Ink Publishing Company at 1-800-720-5531.



This page was last updated on 9-9-2000