Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Heart of Positive Change: Staffing Your Business with WACOSA

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WACOSA is a non-profit organization that was initially started by parents to support their children. Today, WACOSA serves over 575 adults with disabilities in central MN. Our mission is to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to work and live in their community.
Since we began our work, we have noticed that some businesses can be reluctant to hire people with disabilities. Some may be worried about changes and liabilities that they think will come with hiring a person with disabilities. These worries are usually rooted in inexperience—hiring a person with disabilities is not unlike hiring any new employee. There will be an adjustment period, but it doesn’t last long.  

Some common concerns businesses have about hiring employees with disabilities (and reasons why hiring them is beneficial) are listed below:
Concern: My insurance rates will go up.
Many businesses have concerns that if they hire someone with a disability their insurance costs will go up. A survey of human resource managers by Cornell University has proven that companies’ health, life, and disability insurance costs actually rarely go up as a result of hiring people with disabilities.

Concern: How will hiring an employee with disabilities affect other employees?
Hiring a new employee and wondering if they will fit in or get along with the others is always a concern. It might be uncomfortable at first depending upon your current workers’ experience in socializing with people with disabilities, but it usually doesn’t last very long.  It actually has been reported that current employees work harder and are more productive after having people with disabilities in their work environment. There really is no difference in how you would communicate with a person with a disability. The reality is that the person with a disability wants to have the same conversations and be treated the same as every other employee.

Concern: What if it doesn’t work out?
It is never easy to terminate an employee, especially if the employee has a disability. If a person with a disability starts to experience problems down the road, an employer shouldn’t fear termination. If the employee isn’t able to do the work or make corrections to their performance, it is within your rights to terminate the employee, just as you would with anyone else.

Conclusion: Be the heart of positive change
Companies can make a real difference in the lives of others simply by giving them the chance to work. Be the leader who sincerely makes an effort to help a person with a disability. By doing so, you are not only assisting them in creating a better life, but you are also instigating change.


If you are interested in making a positive change in your workforce, WACOSA offers a great program called Staffing Your Business. We work with our clients and your business to find the best match for your job opening. We are committed to the highest standards in job training, coaching, and support for the individuals we train, providing a workforce you can truly rely on.  Take theses concerns and tips into consideration during your next hiring process and be the heart of positive change.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wacosa Seniors Host Aunt Bea’s Tea Party

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Providing the seniors we serve with the ability to connect with other people their age to help them remain active in the community is exactly what WACOSA’s Senior Service program is all about. Our seniors have the opportunity to volunteer through the RSVP program, participate in classes and crafts, and take day trips to different events in the area.
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In May, the Whitney Senior Center in St. Cloud was turned into Mayberry, North Carolina. Seniors had the opportunity to “visit” Mayberry - the home of the Andy Griffith show.
The classic American sitcom, first televised between 1960-1968, portrays a widowed sheriff in a small community that has complications in life when an incapable but well-meaning deputy, spinster aunt and housekeeper, and a young son come into his life. Even though the show was shot in the 1960’s it captured the reminiscing Americana feeling of the 1930’s.

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For a full week, our seniors spent time doing activities centered around the “Andy Griffith Show” and Mayberry. On the last day of their “visit”, they had a tea party in honor of Aunt Bea. This “visit” had the seniors reminiscing of old times and brought back many good memories for them.
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One of our goals for our Senior Service program is to help community seniors remain active. This Tea Party was a great opportunity for our seniors to enjoy some reminiscing and be active with their peers.

If you would like to volunteer with our organization, visit the Ways to Help page of our website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Exercising With A Disability

Physical exercise is essential for staying healthy, fit and strong. This is especially the case as we age and when living with a disability. Adults with disabilities are three times as likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer as adults without disabilities. Aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities can reduce the impact or even prevent these chronic diseases and promote a healthier, more mobile lifestyle.

Aerobic Activities
Aerobic activity is something every adult should do on a regular basis. Aerobic exercise can increase the efficiency of the respiration system, improve circulation and cardiovascular efficiency, improve motor coordination, and decrease the risk of developing artery disease, cancer, and diabetes. Aerobic activity has the added benefits of decreasing anxiety and stress and improving emotional health.


Doctors recommend either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Alternatively, you can do a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic intensity.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity can include brisk walking, hiking, wheeling independently in a wheelchair, ballroom dancing, and aquatic therapy.
Vigorous activity can include jogging, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair volleyball, or wheelchair tennis. Vigorous-intensity activities to get you outside can include cross-country or downhill skiing, water aerobics, and horseback riding.

Muscle-Strengthening Activities
Gaining muscular strength isn’t just for gym rats and bodybuilders. Having muscular strength means having higher muscle mass and higher amounts of energy that can make your body stronger and healthier. Muscular strength also benefits your overall health and can aid in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes.

Doctors recommend working on muscle strengthening exercises that target your major muscle groups at least twice a week.

Muscle-strengthening exercises include working with resistance bands or engaging in adapted yoga classes. Check out this comprehensive list of seated-position exercises for strength training with a disability from

Physical activity is important for every adult to engage in, and it’s essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Consult with a doctor for recommendations on physical activities. Doctors can help recommend activities based on ability, desired intensity levels, frequency, and which activities you enjoy and want to explore. Most importantly, have fun with it!

Monday, May 16, 2016

5 Services Your Donations Support at WACOSA

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Your donations to WACOSA help support and make a difference in the lives of adults with disabilities, but have you ever wondered how? Your donations are greatly appreciated and make it possible for us to support our WACOSA clients with various services. These are just a few:

1. Activity Books
A $50 donation will provide one set of assorted activity books. Included in the set is four books, each with a different theme of puzzles, games, and trivia. Instead of having information read to them, our clients love to learn with activities like crossword puzzles and trivia questions.

2. Chairs
A $90 donation provides one chair for the WACOSA Senior Program at the Whitney Senior Center in St. Cloud. These chairs are made with sturdy metal and vinyl upholstery. Plus, they are very comfortable and easy to clean. These chairs are great for our seniors when they need to sit or stand.

3. Speaker System Upgrade
A $300 donation will help us to get one iPod to update the speaker system at our Waite Park site. Right now, we are in need of an iPod for each of the three program areas.

4. Refrigerator
A $500 donation will supply us with one under the counter refrigerator unit. This will help to improve meal preparation. Along with this, it will help improve our clients medication administration.

5. Washing Machine or Dryer
A $1,000 donation allows us to purchase one commercial grade washing machine or dryer for our Sauk Centre site. This is used to wash and dry materials used by the Can Do! Cleaning Crews. Since the crews are cleaning at various local businesses, more than 550 towels and 25 mop heads are washed every day.

Through your generous donations, you make WACOSA’s mission possible - to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to work and live in their community. We are in need of multiples of almost every items. To learn more about how you can help, visit our donation page.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Spotlight on Sauk Centre

Providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to work and live in their community is exactly what WACOSA’s mission is all about. WACOSA has two locations - one in Waite Park and one in Sauk Centre. Our Sauk Centre location provides many services to the community, including contract packaging and assembly work, “Can-do” Crews, and business staffing.


The first Business Solution offered at WACOSA’s Sauk Centre location is contract packaging and assembly work. Our sales and production staff strive to have a complete understanding of your project, whatever you needs happen to be. Some services include inventory control, pre-operational checklists and training, re-work, and quality checking. Outsourcing to WACOSA can benefit your company in many ways; cutting your costs, boosting your revenue, easing labour shortages and much more.
Our “Can Do” Crews are another option to help your local businesses. Our crews consist of five to seven people and we offer cleaning services, product tear-down, assembly, packaging, labelling, and quality checking and re-work. With a 97% satisfaction rating, it’s easy to see why our “Can Do” Crews are so popular around the St. Cloud region.

2015 Leah Bruemmer.jpgStaffing your business is another service of WACOSA’s Sauk Centre location. When set to staff your business, we are committed to the highest standards in job training, coaching, and support. We work diligently with each client to get teams trained until they feel comfortable to produce their own work. We also find it important to have follow-ups with our staffing clients to keep in touch and ensure success within their business.

Although Sauk Centre does not have a thrift store, we do still accept donations at the location. Docu-Shred is also only available at the Waite Park Location, but the Waite Park location works with customers at Sauk Centre to shred their documents.

Our vision at WACOSA is that individuals of all abilities are empowered to reach their full potential. Our vision is made possible through the array of services we offer the community. To get updates about WACOSA, like us on Facebook.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Man We Should All Look Up To

Kris was born to inspire. His journey began when he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy - a condition that brings many unique challenges to the people it touches. Although this disease brings many challenges, Kris refuses to let it stand in his way of making an impact on those around him.  

Kris Bartz, a positive, and determined young man, was one of four recipients of the 2015 Inspiration Awards given out by the Disability Awareness Task Force. Nominees are not given this award because they have a disability but because they inspire and give back to the community.

He attended the Occupational Skills program at Brainerd Central Lakes proving that hard work and dedication brings success. During his experience at OSP, Kris discovered his passion of working in a nursing home setting. His sense of humor and loving heart has a positive impact on the elderly.

Kris diligently worked through his CNA training program to help make his dreams become a reality. Although he faced many obstacles along the way, he surpassed some negative beliefs of his capability by receiving his CNA certification. Kris has time and time again proved his drive and passion in caring for others.

Kris was a referral to WACOSA from vocational rehab and we helped him use his many talents to find a job at Sterling Park. He works as a full-time 2nd shift CNA assisting residents with activities, meal times, and getting residents ready for bed.

Kris opens up his heart to whomever he meets. He has a contagious smile that never fails to brighten his patients day. He strives to let people know that they matter, that their lives are important, that he always has time to help and visit with them. He wants to make an impact on those around him, and he does!

But Kris doesn’t stop here - he is involved with Special Olympics competing in bowling and track. He also dedicates his time as a global messenger, speaking out on behalf of those with disabilities.

His generous heart is inspiring to us all. It takes a kind and loving person to receive such a fitting award - Kris is a man we should all look up to!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Preparing for Give to the Max Day 2015

Preparing for Give to the Max Day 2015
Minnesotans around the state are gearing themselves for Give to the Max Day in hopes of breaking last year’s record of  $18 million donated to schools and nonprofits throughout the land of 10,000 lakes.

Give to the Max day is extremely important for nonprofits because it strengthens the nonprofit community by making their organizations more well known in the area. Creating relationships with community members helps find supporters that are passionate about the same goals and missions of making the community a better place.

GiveMn is a resource to help connect people with organizations within Minnesota. Every year, GiveMn sets aside one day to fundraise as much as possible for local schools and nonprofits in our community called Give to the Max Day. Fundraising is a major part of Give to the Max Day. Fundraising for your favorite organization can be difficult, but don’t let that stop you- there are tons of simple ways to get involved:
Use the Media
Using media to your advantage helps get the word out to all people in your communities. Contacting news stations, local newspapers, radio talk shows, and social media help spread the world about your passion for fundraising. The more people that know about the event, the more donors you receive.

MORE is More
Focus on getting multiple donors rather than focusing on the amount each individual donor gives. If you spend your time getting people to donate, they will be more interested in the cause with which you are participating rather than just solely asking for a number. Fundraising is all about the way you present it. Grab your audience’s attention making them want to support your mission.

Cite your Source
If you want people to donate to an organization because it means something special to you, tell them why it is important. Explain to potential donors why the organization is important to you and what, in your eyes, makes it special and worth funding. genuine appreciation through the eyes of someone involved will speak much louder than any other selling tactic you can think of.

This year, Give to the Max day is set for November 12, 2015, so grab your best fundraising skills, make a plan,  and let’s do our best to earn some funds for Minnesota Schools and nonprofits! If you have yet to choose a nonprofit, make WACOSA your organization of choice by visiting our Give MN page.