Monday, January 23, 2017

Volunteer Opportunities at WACOSA

Volunteering at WACOSA has many benefits. Your volunteer efforts are felt by our staff, our clients, and, or course, by you! If you would like to get more involved in volunteer work this year, WACOSA has plenty of opportunities available. Read more about some of these roles below:


Activities Assistant
_MG_6556.jpgAs an Activities Assistant for WACOSA, you will assist staff members with scheduled activities on the weekly calendar. You would help set up for, clean up after, and assist the clients in these weekly activities. You can also add any expertise you might have by teaching the client information that you are passionate about.


Shifts for an Activities Assistant are available Monday through Friday between 8:45 AM–4 PM at all WACOSA sites. We prefer if you commit to a minimum of 2 hours per month.


Mender/Sewer/Class Instruction
Our clients are always eager to learn a new skill. If you are proficient in sewing, volunteer your time to teach others. You can also utilize your skills to create new and repair existing clothing, weighted vests, weighted blankets and other alteration requests in the comfort of your home. Time commitment can range from approximately four to twelve hours per month.


Environmental Projects Assistant
Through environmental projects, we work to develop our clients’ ability to complete paid work, but also to interact with non-paid projects and activities. In this role, you will be working to enhance the quality of the environment for clients. This can include landscaping, gardening, patio design, care, and other duties. You may also be responsible for maintenance tasks on vehicles and accessible equipment for staff and clients alike. If you like working with your hands, this is the volunteer opportunity for you!


To volunteer for these tasks, you must have experience with basic shop procedures, yard equipment, and tools. You must also have the ability to lift and carry 20 pounds, handle intermittent bending, twisting and reaching, and stand for up to four hours while performing tasks. (A driver's license and health card are required to drive WACOSA vehicles but is not necessary to fulfill this position.) Shifts for the Environmental Projects Assistant are available Monday through Friday between 6 AM and 2 PM at 320 Sundial Drive, Waite Park.


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Curriculum Assistant
Would you like to help others to develop basic computer skills? How about learn more about digital cameras and photography? Do you enjoy leading classes and teaching new skills to others? Volunteer as a Curriculum Assistant! Use your abilities to help others learn basic computer skills, such as accessing the internet, cutting and pasting images, saving documents into proper folders, and basic typing.You can also help with basic photography skills, such as taking photographs, saving photographs on the computer, and laminating and printing photographs.


Curriculum Assistants also aide in preparing materials needed for other client classes, such as sewing, gardening, musical therapy, creative movements, etc. Shifts are available Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM–4 PM, at 320 Sundial Drive, Waite Park.


Musical Therapy Provider
Anyone with a background (or love of) music will tell you that music can provide therapy. If you have musical skills, volunteer to spread your talent by providing musical entertainment to clients.In the past, our clients have enjoyed acoustic guitar, accordion, piano and electric organ sessions. (We have an electric organ at the Waite Park location for your use.)


Shifts last 1-2 hours and are available Monday through Friday between 8:45 AM - 4 PM at all WACOSA sites. We prefer that our Musical Therapy Providers commit to one hour or more each month.


Retail Assistant at ThriftWorks!
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As a Retail Assistant, you will volunteer your time to assist staff members with sorting and pricing merchandise, store stocking, customer service, donation drop-off and maintaining a pleasant environment for customers. A minimum of 2-hour scheduled shift per week is required at our ThriftWorks! store. You can schedule your volunteer opportunity here.


Wellness Assistant
As a wellness Assistant, use your skills to help our staff teach our clients healthy eating skills and workouts to be adapted for a variety of different abilities and needs. Shifts are available Monday through Friday at various times, depending on class schedules.


Not only are there plenty of opportunities to volunteer, but there are multiple ways to apply! To contact WACOSA’s volunteer services, you can fill out an application and email it to Andrea Harrell at aharrell@wacosa.org or fax it to 320-259-4679. You can even mail it to us at PO Box 757, Waite Park, MN 56387.


Don’t have the time to dedicate to volunteer work? There are plenty of other ways that you can help give back. Learn more on our Ways to Give page.

We hope to hear from you soon!

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.


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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.

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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.
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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 Sparkpeople.com.

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.

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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.
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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!