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The Minnesota Department of Human Services provides Minnesotans with a variety of services intended to help people live as independently as possible.

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2012 Commissioner's Circle of Excellence Awards

Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson presents one of seven Circle of Excellence awards Monday, Dec. 3, to Nelson Bonilla of District 518 Community Education.DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson honored seven organizations from across the state Dec. 3 for their outstanding contributions to human services program clients. Recipients of the 2012 DHS Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards were recognized at a ceremony at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building in St. Paul.

Jesson said winners in the second annual Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards stand out among the many organizations on the front lines throughout the state providing critical human services programs and promoting healthy and productive communities.

“These organizations have come up with innovative ways to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable Minnesotans,” Jesson said. “They exemplify all of the great human services work happening across Minnesota toward our vision of healthy people, stable families and strong communities.”

The 2012 DHS Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award recipients are:

  • Circle of HOPE, a chemical dependency treatment program of Yellow Medicine County. Circle of HOPE was developed in 2009 to fill a gap in services for individuals who had previously not been able to stay sober in the community after completing chemical dependency treatment. Circle of HOPE helps participants create relapse-prevention plans and make connections with community-based resources to support their recovery. The word HOPE stands for honesty, open-minded, participation and equality, all values emphasized in the weekly meetings and interactions between participants and community volunteers who support their recovery efforts.
  • District 518 Community Education, which provides refugee resettlement services in the southwestern Minnesota communities of Bigelow, Reading, Rushmore, Wilmont and Worthington. Since 2008, the DHS Resettlement Program Office has provided the district with a grant to provide services to refugees. District 518 Community Education staff developed an array of classes and programs to help Burmese refugees, who moved to the area in recent years, connect to services in the community and become engaged citizens. Efforts involve partnerships with Nobles County, the business community, the Southern Minnesota Regional Housing Partnership, the Immigrant Law Center and the district’s schools.
  • Good Works, a volunteer opportunity for the marketing community at General Mills, headquartered in Golden Valley. A Good Works team developed an outreach and marketing campaign for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) administered by DHS and accessed by 500,000 Minnesotans each month. The three-year project involved conducting consumer insight research, developing campaign framework and key messaging with a goal of increasing SNAP eligibility awareness and enrollment. The project resulted in a campaign targeting seniors and the recently unemployed executed in collaboration by DHS, Hunger Solutions Minnesota and Hunger-Free Minnesota.
  • Hennepin Health, an integrated care system partnership between Hennepin County Medical Center, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, Metropolitan Health Plan, and Hennepin County’s Human Services and Public Health Department. Through a demonstration partnership with DHS, Hennepin Health blends medical, behavioral health and social services in a patient-centered care model to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. Since its launch on Jan. 1, 2012, Hennepin Health has enrolled 6,000 low-income Medicaid recipients in Hennepin County.
  • Housing Access Services, a partnership between The Arc Minnesota and DHS providing housing services to people with disabilities statewide. Since July 2009, Housing Access Services has helped more than 600 Minnesota adults with disabilities move to homes of their own as an alternative to living in group homes, with their parents or homelessness. Housing Access Services staff identify safe and affordable housing options, assist participants with rental applications, deposits, and packing and moving their belongings. The program also helps connect participants to other supports, such as nutrition and employment programs, for which they are eligible.
  • Southside Community Health Services, which provides health and dental services to Minneapolis residents. Southside Community Health Services offers comprehensive care at its clinics, including a medical mobile unit. It is also a Minnesota Community Application Agent, providing outreach, application assistance and navigation services to enroll eligible individuals in Minnesota Health Care Programs. Southside has consistently performed as one of the top 15 Minnesota Community Application Agencies under contract with DHS. Since 2009, it has assisted more than 1,700 individuals in the application process, about 75 percent of which have been Hispanic and Latino, a population that has historically been the most likely to be uninsured.
  • Wellness Preferred Integrated Network, a physical and mental health services partnership between Medica Health Plans and Dakota County. Through a demonstration partnership with DHS, the Wellness Preferred Integrated Network (PIN) brings together resources to improve and coordinate physical and mental health care services for people with mental illness, up to age 65, living in Dakota County. The public-private model provides a wellness navigator to each client to help them attain comprehensive and individualized care planning and care coordination. Since its launch in 2009, the Wellness PIN has grown to serve 500 individuals.


Videos of the 2012 Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award winners are on the video page.


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