Election Results and Looking Ahead to 2021
December 21, 2020
The Results Are In!
The MRA election has come to a close, ballots counted and the winners confirmed. Congratulations to Amber McCort, Alex Breiland, Kaitlyn Wall and Micah Olson!
Also, another big congratulations to Avery Cook and Sonia Sobos, who were elected to serve as the St. Cloud State 2021 MRA Representatives! Congratulations to all of you! 2021 is going to be a great year!
From the President’s Desk
A Hopeful Ending to a Difficult Year
President Laura Vitzthum
As 2020 comes to an end, I feel a deep sorrow for all the lost jobs, financial and food insecurity, health complications and lives we have lost. It is a year like no other we have experienced. It has been an important year to take time to connect virtually with people that we may have seen in-person in the past in the natural order of our daily lives.
MRA has come to mean more this year to myself and many others than ever before. It has provided us a place for training and community when other opportunities have been lacking. I am proud of our ability to invest and transform from offering in-person training to offering online training platforms. The MRA board has benefited greatly from the guidance of rehab students and new rehab professionals on how to access and implement the technology that makes these trainings possible.
I am thankful that, as a rehab profession, we have been able to adapt to provide counseling, independent living supports, job placement, job coaching and many other essential services amidst a global pandemic. It needs to be acknowledged that there have been areas of weakness in our ability to work with some individuals who do not have access or the ability to utilize technology. However, I think that there are many advantages to working with some people virtually that we will be able to benefit from and continue to use even after the pandemic has lessened.
I hope you and the wider rehab community can be as safe as possible as 2020 concludes and a new year begins. I am hopeful for 2021. Vaccines for COVID-19 are starting to be administered and people continue to be hired in jobs that help contribute to the economy and the essential health and well-being of Minnesota. I invite you to take solace in the fact that MRA is prepared and committed to continue to provide quality training, networking, leadership, community and support in 2021.
MRA President for 2020
Looking Ahead to the New Year
Greetings! As 2020 comes to a close I know there were many moments we can look back on that were times of growth, times that stretched us and challenged us. As well as times where friends or family brought us joy and comfort.
Maybe you became more inventive or creative, explored your neighborhood and visited your area parks, or found out how amazing your deck was for afternoon meetings. I have two sticky notes that speak to me daily – one says “Grief is unavoidable. Give yourself space.” And I am encouraged to be gentle and patient with myself and everyone in my working world. The other says “Old ways won’t open new doors.” And I am encouraged to roll with the external changes that enter my life while also embracing new practices and ideas to move forward with different opportunities. My hope is that we can take what has challenged, stretched, pushed, encouraged, and renewed in us and fling open a new door in 2021.
Job Placement and Development Division
Doris Illies, JPD President
For the first time in many years, JPD has cancelled their winter celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are hopeful that we will come together again in 2021. We met on December 17th for our final meeting for 2020.
The MN JPD group has been busy working on continuing to provide training along with a partnership with VRS that offered Business Engagement and Beyond to work coordinators. There were two sessions, one a full day and one split in two half-days, and JPD plans to offer this again beginning in March 2021.
Our new President for 2021 is Cristy Thomas. MN JPD will also be represented at the National level as Frank Herd will serve as the NRA JPD President in 2021.
Congratulations again to our 2020 award winners: Michelle Armbruster as Placement Person of the Year 2020 and Kristine Meech, our Lori Sterner Memorial Award winner. Both are very deserving and their contributions to the field are significant.
Doris Illies MN JPD President 2020
As we celebrated my son’s first birthday in November, I took time to look back at pictures throughout the year and reflect on our short but full year together. He smiled, he cried, he walked! So many great memories that we have created in this crazy year! In the words of the Grateful Dead, ‘What a long strange trip it’s been!’
As I scrolled through my camera roll an occasional picture of something random would remind me of my work as a QRC/VE, business owner, and MRA Board member. Twelve short but long months ago we had started planning for the MRA Fall Conference where we had high hopes of celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Vocational Rehabilitation. The MRA Board held a meeting on March 12, 2020, largely to present and discuss the conference at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge. I remember meeting with Frank Herd before the meeting and discussing the many events that were being canceled due to COVID concerns. Oh, were we in for a surprise! The work that was started ultimately changed and moved into a different direction. The MRA Conference Committee prepared a great virtual conference in place of the in-person conference. I enjoyed hosting the lunch and learn hour with approximately eighty participants! I look forward to traveling north for the conference at Ruttger’s in 2021!
As we move into the holiday season and new year, I encourage you to celebrate responsibly! Wear a mask and do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19. I am hopeful that we are close to a reliable and safe vaccine, and that we can return to ‘the old days.’ In the meantime, support local businesses and families that are struggling during this time. Reach out to others to provide support and seek out others if you need support.
I want to say thank you to all healthcare workers in our communities who are caring for individuals fighting this horrible disease. I pray that you stay safe and healthy throughout these times.
Although 2020 wasn’t the year we had expected, I have faith in your ability to continue to pivot during the ups and downs.
And just keep truckin’ on’ – Grateful Dead
Transition Specialties Division
TSD along with MRA, NRA JPD, and the National Association for Rehabilitation Leadership (NARL) is hosting a virtual training on Technology and Transition (click here for details). You can still register and access the sessions that have passed.
TSD is giving away FREE t-shirts to new and current TSD members in 2020! To get your free t-shirt, all you have to do is join or be a current member of TSD and attend one of our board meetings in 2020! We are also selling the t-shirts for $20.
The t-shirts are black and the front has a grey outline of Minnesota with the words “transition”, “passion”, “future”, “empowerment”, “job”, “new life”, “goals”, “motivation”, “creative”, “development”, “change”, and “career” in white along the outline. The back of the t-shirt says “MRA Transition Division” in white.
If you would like to order a t-shirt you can contact us at MNRehabTransition@gmail.com.
Congrats to our TSD 2020 Award Winners!
Transition Professional of the Year: Amber McCort
Community Transition Provider of the Year: MSS
Stay tuned for board meeting dates in 2021 or contact TSD President Alex Breiland for details at: MNRehabTransition@gmail.com.
MRA Board Meetings for 2021 will take place over Zoom:*
Executive Board from 9:00 – 10:00
Full Board Meeting 10:00 – 12:00
October at Fall Conference
*contact firstname.lastname@example.org for Zoom link
September 29 – October 1, 2021
MRA Annual Conference:
Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge
More details soon…