I recently joined the Board of the UCP of Central Minnesota. I joined because Jenna Berger (CEO) and her team are extremely serious about their mission: to advance the independence, productivity, and full citizenship of people experiencing physical or invisible barriers.The UCP mission statement reads:

UCP is passionate about equal rights for all, especially those who are meeting the challenges of living with a disability in Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties and, more recently, throughout the state of Minnesota.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-44-33-pmWords are important, sometimes even powerful. In many cases, though, words seem small and insignificant compared to an experience. I recently attended ConnectAbility of MN ‘s annual Halloween Party. I saw over 100 children with a wide range of disabilities having a great time. Smiles, laughter, and excitement were everywhere. The kids interacted with their peers, played games, and ate a bunch of candy. For this night, they ignored their disabilities. These kids know how to party!

Their joy and frivolity was abundant, but another emotion was evident–gratitude. The kids and their parents/caregivers were so appreciative that ConnectAbility of MN would create, manage and host such a spectacular event in their honor. The sense of pure gratitude was expressed verbally, through smiles and with actions. These kids would not have experienced this great night without the ConnectAbility of MN .

ConnectAbility of MN events benefit families as well. For that hour and a half, the defenses can be down, the stress is lifted for a bit. There are no judgments, no worries—people are just people. Roles shift; Parents get a chance to network with other parents. Kids get to be kids. Often, siblings take a caregiver role and aren’t just a brother or sister. At a ConnectAbility of MN , they don’t have to stick up for anyone or watch out for anyone. They get to just be.


I am personally going to do everything I can to make this organization flourish and allow it to bring its services to the people of Central Minnesota. I believe that those of us who can help must help. I’m not going to be shy about asking our community to get on board. I saw first hand the results that ConnectAbility of MN delivers. There are many ways that you can help:

  • By donating money
  • By inviting ConnectAbility of MN into your organization so that they can tell their story
  • By referring us to people that may be interested in helping ConnectAbility of MN
  • By attending ConnectAbility of MN’s events
  • By telling ConnectAbility of MN story to your friends
  • By having a clothing collection bin outside your business or church. They actually pay your rent for the space!
  • By throwing a case of paper, a roll of stamps, or usable computers their way
  • By joining or sending staff to a ConnectAbility of MN or IT board


Please join me. This organization can do truly great things within our community. Contact me by email at john@daytamarketing.com if you wish further the mission of ConnectAbility of MN.

John Riordan