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Connecting Hearts
Raising Voices
Dear Friends,
The past year has been busy and rewarding for the staff
and Board of Family Voices of Minnesota. Family Voices of
Minnesota’s staff include regional and multi-cultural
Parent Support Navigators located in the Rochester,
Hutchinson, Duluth, Bemidji areas and the Twin Cities.
We have been studying the impact of our Parent to
Parent Program and parents have reported the following
important outcomes:
Increased confidence caring for their child
Increased confidence navigating systems and accessing
community resources
Decreased emergency department visits
97% of families would recommend Family Voices to an-
other family
In the next year we will see some of our current grant
funding end, so sustaining our Parent to Program is
our most important goal and biggest need for 2017.
Your support is an essential and important way for
us to continue to provide the unique support and
assistance that families in Minnesota need that
are not provided by traditional systems or any other
Together we are able to make a
difference in the lives of families whose
children have unique and complex needs.
Thank you for your support.
Carolyn Allshouse
Who are Children and
Youth with Special
Health Care Needs?
This can include children with Spina Bifida, Cerebral
Palsy, Epilepsy, Autism, Down Syndrome, Learning
Disabilities, food allergies and other conditions that
require the child and family to use services and
systems beyond what children typically require.
There are about 179,000 children and youth
with special health care needs and disabilities in
1 in 5 Minnesota families with children have at
least one child with special health care needs
Visit our website: to learn more.
Why Parent to Parent is so Important
When you are a parent whose child has unique needs your
life is complicated and different from other families you
All parents want to
feel they belong and
are connected to
other families.
Parent to Parent
connects families
whose children have
unique needs with one
another so they do
not feel alone.
This type of connection and support is not something
professionals can provide.
Parent to Parent
Provides Resources
Parent to Parent Support is
also about giving families
the resources they need.
Most of the time parents
don’t know what to ask for.
Sometimes professionals
don’t offer anything unless
they are specifically asked.
Sandy Hruby
What Being a Support Parent Means to Me
Being able to support another parent is a gift to me.
I am able to lend an ear to someone who feels they
have no one to talk to. To laugh, cry and talk with
them brings me back to how isolated I felt at first
and how appreciative I was when I found someone who
understood what I was going through.
Being a Support Parent
allows me to watch
that other parent
grow, watch them be-
come more confident,
watch them feel bet-
ter about themselves.
Helping others gives
back as much to me as
it gives to them.
Jodi Furman
Comments from a Parent
Who Received Support
“I hope that other parents tell you often how great
you are at what you do. I was so emotionally upset
about what was going on with my child and then you
came in and validated my frustration but also gave
me good advice!”
We provide unique support not
available anywhere else
The Family Voices of Minnesota Parent to Parent
program involves providing support so parents do not
feel alone in their journey; informing families about
community resources and how to use them; empower-
ing and preparing families to partner with their child’s
providers and
promoting patient
and family-
centered care.
Family Voices of Minnesota’s
Vision and Mission
Vision: Strong connected families who are empowered
advocates to ensure the best health care for children
and youth with special healthcare needs.
Mission: To cultivate strong families across
Minnesota by connecting them with one another
for support and information so they become
empowered advocates improving health and quality
of life for children and youth with special health
care needs and disabilities.
Parent to Parent
Made a Difference in My Life
After my family moved to MN from Colorado, we
knew that we needed to be connected with services for
our son who is 4 and has epilepsy, developmental delays,
and cortical visual impairment. We learned that we did not
have adequate insurance coverage to provide therapies
and medical equipment to help my son.
When I called Family Voices Parent to Parent
program I got connected to a support parent who gave me
resources that helped me find a primary care doctor,
understand how to obtain referrals for therapy, and ways
to work with the school supports to connect services in
our home.
After connecting with another parent, I felt more
confident approaching my son’s neurologist with questions,
which can be very intimidating.
Having a child with complex
needs is difficult and scary at
times…being able to share
stories and exchange
information with other parents
is very much needed. Only other
parents of kids with special
needs truly understand the
struggles and triumphs.
Being a Parent Support Navigator
Our son was born extremely premature in 2012. He
was discharged from the hospital after what felt like a
never ending roller-coaster ride in the NICU. I remember
bringing him home and thinking, “now what?” Being a new
mom is overwhelming enough, and when you add in monitors,
medications, respiratory and feeding concerns in addition to
a lengthy list of follow up appointments with specialists, it
was absolutely terrifying.
We live in rural Minnesota and we had no idea how to
go about finding resources and accessing the care that our
child required. I spent hours searching for information and
joined several support groups on social media, but was never
really able to find information specific to our area.
I started working with Family Voices of Minnesota
last year, and I can honestly say that I really love my job. I
enjoy working with other parents as they face the
challenges of accessing services and navigating healthcare
systems in rural Minnesota.
This position has allowed me the
chance to decrease the stress
and fear of other parents by
sharing my personal knowledge
and experience I have gained
throughout our journey.
Jess Randall
Family Voices by the Numbers
Individual assistance and parent to
parent support provided to over 937
Outreach to 105,589 families and
139 Volunteers
1,400 educational materials dissemi-
nated to families and professional
The families we serve
live in urban, rural,
small towns and
suburban communities
60% of families we serve are considered low
76% of the children have multiple diagnoses
*October 1, 2014 to
September 30, 2015
October 2015 Through September 2016
Parent to Parent Related Grants
Other Parent Related Grants
Total Income: 175,774
Total Expenses: 167,054
Parent to Parent Program Related General
Donor Spotlight:
Michelle and Steve Anderson
It was sixteen years ago that our first child Noah was born with
Spina Bifida. At the time, both my husband and I did not know
anything about this
condition and what life
for our son would be
Noah’s first years of
life were spent mostly
in the hospital as we
tried to stabilize his
complicated body. We
were very worried and
stressed out most of
the time. We felt very
alone, as we knew of no one that had, or was walking in our shoes.
We had asked the specialty doctors if they could share the name
of a family in a similar situation but back then they did not keep a
database of names of these special children.
In addition, back then there was not a program such as
Family Voices and oh how I wish there had been! To have another
parent that you could be honest and share your concerns and frus-
trations with would have been such a blessing to us. To know that
another parent really understood how hard and challenging life
with a special child can be. And to lift you up along the way without
judgment but encouragement and to light the way would be an
amazing gift.
That is why we choose to support Family Voices every year
in the hopes that other families may receive this unique gift of
Parent to Parent Support that no medical staff can provide.
When we meet other families with a child with unique needs there
is an immediate bond and unspoken understanding that we know
their life is complicated but filled with a special unconditional love
that these children exude.
Being a Volunteer Support Parent
Not only does supporting other parents give you a
sense of belonging, but it also gives you a sense of
hope, a sense of community, and a sense of under-
It gives you a purpose that maybe you’re put into this
position as a parent of
a child with a disabil-
ity for a reason…
knowing that you can
affect other people's
lives and make things
better or
easier for them.
OVER $1,500
Individual Donors
Ed and Ceci Shapland
Susan Wingert & Jan Mason
David Grin & Margie Hogan
Steve & Michelle Anderson
Business Donors
Pediatric Home Services
Gillee Children’s Specialty
Delta Dental
Individual Donors
Alfred and Nanee Beltran
Bill Amberg
Jane Hogan and Paul Johnson
Judy Brisbine
Sarah Kiesling
Terry and Carol Kapsen
Tricia Brisbine and Andy Phillips
Business Donors
Elite Transportaon Systems
Minnesota Wild
Southwest Airlines
Disney Theme Parks
Individual Donors
Brooks Donald/Karen Mackenzie
Cathy and William Dessert
Jay and Bonnie Bellows
Jim and Maryam Shapland
Ryan and Michelle Allshouse
Steve and Teresa Berge
Tim Quinn
Walter and Carol Grin
Bob and Jane Hilliard
Bruce and Cathy Estrem
Candace Vegter
Colleen Wieck
Deb Swackhamer/David DeVault
Earl and Nancy Geving
Frank and Joy Solomon
Herb and Carolyn Allshouse
Janice and Jerey Schactman
Je Shuman
Joann and Fred Johnson
John and Debbie Erb
John and Yvee Homan
Jusn Kapsen
Kim and David McConnell
Margaret Morris
Mark Hamman
Mike and Tammy Hilliard
Phil Kibort
Susan Fanucci
Business Donors
Beaver Air Tours
Country Inn and Suites Duluth
East West Clinic
Econolodge - Duluth
Farley's Family Restaurant
Gutherie Theater
Jill Fiebiger Photography
Minnesota Orchestra
Murray’s Restaurant
Business Donors Cont.
Simmer Brothers Homes, Inc
Skin Rejuvenaon Clinic
Taylor Distribung
Individual Donors
Barbara Gill
Barbara Kleist
Becky Romosz
Cathy Urbain
Craig and Tammy Getman
Jane Prest
Janice Kuball
Jennifer Janisch
Jennifer Swick
John and Joyce Vinton
John Hurley
Laurel Cederberg
Nanee Nelson
Rick and Rose Moeckel
Stephanie Shea
Tony and Judy Shumacher
Business Donors
Barb's Hair Care
Flower Valley Winery
MGC Diagnoscs
Minnesota Twins
Science Museum of Minnesota
StandUp Paddle Boarding
Surley Brewing
*October 1, 2015 to
September 31, 2016
Thank You From a
Parent Who Received
Parent to Parent Support
The support I received
from Parent to Parent was
amazing! I was connected
to a Volunteer Support
Parent named Leslie who
was a huge help to me and
my son; she connected me
to other resources that
were also very helpful.
I’m sure we will have
other challenges, but for
now I will celebrate the
accomplishments that
Leslie helped make
Visit our website to learn more about our
programs and services:
PO Box 2234
Sllwater, MN 55082
Family Voices of Minnesota became a non-prot 501c3
organizaon in 2009 and is the State Aliate Organizaon
for: Naonal Family Voices and Parent to Parent USA.
Board of Directors
John Bellows J.D Margie Hogan MD
David Grin M.D, MBA Ed Shapland, PhD
John Hurley, BA, MPH
Susan Wingert, RT
Ceci Shapland, RN, MSN
Erica Butler
W. Brooks Donald, MD,
Execuve Director: Carolyn Allshouse