Tag Archives: limited mobility

Madison Claire Foundation

Summertime is prime playground time!  Time to swing, slide, run, jump, and play tag; but playgrounds are not made for all kids.  Today’s organization is on a mission to change that.

On May 16, 2002, Madison Claire Millington was born.  She appeared to be a healthy baby, but by her six-month checkup, her parents knew her development wasn’t progressing the same as her two older siblings.  Madison was not lifting her head, rolling, bearing weight on her legs or sitting unaided.  The doctor referred her to a neurologist and a diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) followed.  According to the SMA Foundation, “SMA is a genetic neuromuscular disease characterized by muscle atrophy and weakness. The disease generally manifests early in life and is the leading genetic cause of death in infants and toddlers”.    Madison lived until just three months past her second birthday.  She passed away on August 17, 2004. 


After Madison passed, her mother Dana knew she wanted to start a foundation that would help families with disabled children in some way.  The birth of that idea came after a day of golfing for her husband Dave.  A group of men passed a hat around the table and collected a couple thousand dollars.  They told him it was for the family to use where they needed it.  They put it in savings until they were ready to make that decision.  They started the foundation by donating overnight backpacks to parents in the Pediatric ICU at St. Paul Children’s Hospital.  The backpacks contained everything needed for an overnight stay.  Over four and a half years, they donated 320 backpacks annually. 

Then, one morning Dana saw a news segment on “inclusive playgrounds.”  As she watched a family share a story similar to hers, she remembered taking her children (including Madison) to the playground.  Dana had to decide between letting her older children (then only ages 5 and 3) play independently in the playground or to leave Madison alone in her wheelchair at the edge of the playground.  Playgrounds are a childhood experience that no child should go without, and while all playgrounds can claim they are accessible, they are not inclusive. 

The Madison Claire Foundation is currently raising funds to build an inclusive playground named “Madison’s Place” in Woodbury, Minnesota.  They hold an annual fundraiser and accept donations through their website.  The playground will be 15,000 square feet and is being designed with help from the Rehabilitation Services team at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. 

A rendering of the Madison’s Place playground

How can you help?

  • You can make a donation directly on the organization’s website.
  • You can also volunteer to help with their annual fundraising event – the next one is scheduled for October 20, 2012.  Watch for updates on their website.
  • You can also contact them directly at to inquire about group fundraisers or other volunteer opportunities.
  • You can also spread the word about the need for inclusive playgrounds.  If you don’t live near Woodbury, you can search to help you locate inclusive playgrounds near you in the United States or Canada. 

You can learn more about the Madison Claire Foundation at their website, and sign up to receive their newsletter.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.


Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Store To Door

Each of us has probably known someone who started having difficulty running their own errands but still could take care of themselves in their own home.  There are well-known services such as Meals on Wheels to help bring meals into their homes, but today’s organization is another option enhance the ability for aging adults to continue to live independently.

Store to Door is a nonprofit grocery and prescription shopping and delivery service for elderly adults in the Twin Cities, Minnesota seven-county metro area.   The organization was founded in 1984 by Dr. David Berger and Judy Madaj.  Dr. Berger had attempted to encourage other agencies to initiate a grocery delivery service for homebound adults who are able to live in their own home and prepare their own meals.  When other organizations did not step up to provide this service, Dave and Judy started Store To Door by enrolling a group of clients.  They did everything themselves – order taking, shopping, delivery, banking and administration.  In that first year, Store To Door shopped for and delivered 1,600 orders.  Since then they have grown and developed better processes.  In 2010, they delivered over 17,000 orders to over 1,300 clients.  In 2003, they started purchasing all your groceries at Cub Foods.  They currently have daily shopping operations out of five metro area Cub Foods stores in St Anthony, Crystal, Bloomington, St Paul–Midway, and Maplewood.  In 2013 they plan to make 20,000 deliveries to 1,700 clients as well as adding a Cub store in Chanhassen to serve Carver County and their first store outside of the Metro in Isanti County at the Cambridge Cub Store.

Store To Door serves the entire seven county metro area, acting as the eyes, ears, arms and legs of adults unable to get out and shop for their own groceries.  On a regular schedule, volunteers phone clients for their grocery order and shop for them at Cub Foods.  Staff members deliver the groceries and prescriptions in refrigerated vans.  Their clients live on their own and pay for their groceries, using personal funds or Food Support benefits.  They serve people of all incomes.  A delivery contribution (determined by age, household size, and self-reported income) is requested of all clients.  Customers can order any product that Cub Foods carries, including postage stamps, magazines, cleaning supplies, toiletries, prescriptions, greeting cards, etc.  Store To Door services are tailored to meet the needs and expectations of our elderly clients.  Orders are placed over the phone (no computer needed), customers can use coupons and food stamps when paying for groceries.  Deliveries are made right into the client’s kitchen and when needed the staff member even helps the client unload and put away the groceries.  Also, since they are talking to customers over the phone, and seeing them in-person during delivery, they are able to provide another social outlet for seniors who may otherwise be quite isolated.

How can you help?

  • Make a donation online at their website or via your company’s United Way campaign.  Monetary donations are used to maintain delivery vehicles, purchase gas, or help with other administrative expenses.
  • Donate your whole, uncut, un-separated manufacturer’s grocery coupon booklets from the Sunday paper.
  • Take a look at the volunteer program blog to learn more about opportunities.
  • Volunteer with Store To Door in a variety of capacities, including roles as office assistants, volunteer order takers, coupon corps members, and volunteer grocery shoppers.  One opportunity is a phone order taker.  These volunteers develop an ongoing relationship with the elderly adults by calling them on a regular schedule to take their grocery order every other week.  A second opportunity is to volunteer as a grocery shopper.  Visit their website to find a full list of opportunities and to signup.

Learn more about Store To Door on their website,  Store To Door was also recently featured in the “Non-Profits To Know” series presented by the Saint Paul Foundation and the Minneapolis Community Foundation – watch the video here.   You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.


Posted by on February 3, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Can Do Canines

On the semi-complicated field of pet wars, it seems you are either a dog person, a cat person, or – like me – a lover of all animals big and small.  You may love some animals less than others – mice, for instance, when they are crawling around in your attic (gross!) or bears when you are camping in the north woods (yikes!).  But when it comes to helping those with limited mobility, hearing or sight impairments, diabetes, prone to seizures, and many other disabilities, it’s time to give the dog camp two thumbs… err… paws up!

Since its inception in 1989, Can Do Canines has been creating partnerships that improve and sustain quality of life for people and their canine partners.  Over the past two decades, Can Do Canines (of New Hope, Minnesota) has placed more than 300 assistance dogs in the arms of disabled clients within Minnesota and the four surrounding states.  Their organization’s mission is, “dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people who are disabled by creating mutually beneficial partnerships with specially trained dogs.” 

 Note that these partnerships are mutually beneficial.  While Can Do Canines can train pet dogs, most of the animals they train are donated by breeders and area animal shelters.  According to Can Do Canines, 14% of all Minnesotans live with an impairment (physical or emotional) that leads to a decreased quality of life and increased medical expenses.  While there is a definite need for increased mobility and independence among those with physical and emotional impairments, those needs must be balanced with safety.  Consequently, limited insurance plans and limited finances may make owning a trained dog a cost-effective solution.  As an alternative to high-priced medical treatments, not only can trained dogs be lighter on the pocket book, and provide safety and independence, but they can be emotionally uplifting to people with disabilities as well.

These dogs, however, do more than heal emotional scars, and help people with sight impairments navigate streets, sidewalks, and shopping malls.  Can Do Canines can train dogs for just about any quality of life challenge.  They can train “Hearing Assist Dogs” to assist people that are deaf or hard of hearing; they can train “Mobility Assist Dogs” to do a wide array of tasks from alerting family members to a person’s need for help to retrieving dropped items and serving as a brace to assist with standing or walking; they can train “Diabetic Assist Dogs” that alert their partners when their blood sugar is getting low; they can train “Seizure Assist Dogs” that can retrieve phones or find help for people afflicted with seizures; they can train “Autism Assist Dogs” that prevent children with autism from dashing into dangerous terrain or situations, as well as provide tactile stimulation for the child; and they can train “ Facility Based Assist Dogs” that provide physical, verbal, and emotional therapy.

The obvious financial and emotional benefits would make Can Do Canines a booming business, but they offer their trained animals to clients free of charge.  Through donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and community organizations, Can Do Canines helps dogs from animal shelters find homes, people with disabilities find mobility and independence, and both find friends.  This is one mutually beneficial relationship that even a cat lover could give two paws up!

You can help Can Do Canine’s mission by donating money or in-kind donations.  Learn more about making a donation and view their current wish list on their website.  You can also purchase a children’s book about service dog Ally.  You can also review their website for current volunteer opportunities. 

Learn more about Can Do Canines (formerly known as Hearing and Service Dogs of MN) at their website or becoming a fan on Facebook.

This post was written by Brent Pearson….Blogunteer supporter and husband.

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Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization


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