Posted on Feb 25, 2015
When a small, but determined group of community volunteers began working to incorporate Rise in the early 1970s, the Anoka County Board of Commissioners granted $10,000 as “seed” money. It was a great show of support and underlined their belief that such an agency would be a tremendous asset to the northern community.
More than 40 years later, the partnership between Anoka County and Rise continues to be strong and progressive. The leadership and staff have built effective, mutually beneficial partnerships which help ensure citizens have the services they need.
“Both Rise and the County have similar missions which boil down to meeting people’s needs through quality services,” said Jerry Pederson, who was recently promoted to director of Anoka County’s Social Services and Behavior Health after 23 years working in multiple service areas.
“Rise and the County’s services and systems have changed and developed over the years, mirroring each other’s growth. Although the issues we are addressing are complex, we are going in the same direction. Such partnerships are crucial for government to provide critical services most effectively and efficiently, and helps us all fulfill our missions.”
“Years ago, there was a lot less regulatory complexity so it was much easier to do the planning around service development,” said Rise President Lynn Noren. “Today, we are working hard together to work through the funding issues and public policies to do the best for those in need. The great relationship we have with Anoka County enables us to sit face-to-face to brainstorm ideas, solve problems, and figure out how to best get things done together.”
Jerry agreed. “After years of working together toward common goals, we have the benefit of years of earned trust and credibility. We work as partners to address today’s issues and challenges in the most cost-effective, results-producing ways – and as a result, everyone wins.”
Anoka County and Rise managers have always been on the lookout for funding and grant opportunities which could help jump-start service development.
“We’ve established a lot of creative ‘pilot’ projects over the years — and a majority of those services are still available to Anoka County citizens today because the needs are still there,” Lynn noted.
“Rise’s Mental Health and Housing Support Services is a good example of a creative collaboration. In working with people who have mental health issues find and maintain good jobs, we realized many didn’t have safe and affordable housing which directly affected their employability. So Rise and Anoka County came together to specifically address that critical issue by developing several housing support services for people with mental illness. Rise’s success enabled us to expand those services to Central and East Central Minnesota, as well, so our initial work with Anoka County ended up benefiting hundreds of people in other communities.”
Over time, governmental and private funding ‘streams’ have changed, regulations have increased, and additional service vendors have come into the Anoka County area. Lynn and Jerry agree that this has not only enabled more people to receive the services they need, but having more stakeholders “with skin in the game” has enhanced the quality of services.
“At the state level, there are many new initiatives and changes related to disability services,” said Cindy Cesare, the new director of Anoka County’s Human Services Division. Like Lynn and Jerry, Cindy has worked in a variety of human services positions for more than 20 years. “There will be opportunities to work more closely with our community partners on expanding supportive housing and employment services. We look forward to this challenge and the opportunities that change can bring to enhance the quality of our services.
“In Anoka County, we are fortunate to have strong collaborative partnerships with our community providers including Rise. They provide valuable services to our most vulnerable citizens.”
From left are Jerry Pederson, Lynn Noren, and Cindy Cesare.
This article appears in the March 2015 issue of the Rise Reporter.