Fairview MS Achievement Center: Connecting with our community

“It’s a great feeling to know that, every day, we’re helping
somebody,” says Heidi Elm, right, a social worker and
MS Achievement Center site supervisor, with client
Andrea Crumly.
July 29, 2013
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1978, Andrea Crumly moved from Nebraska to the Twin Cities in 2005 to be closer to her daughter. But she also found her "second family" right here.

For those with MS, a supportive network of friends, family and professional services can mean the difference between thriving and merely surviving.

“A supportive group is essential,” says Andrea. In 2008, she joined the Fairview MS Achievement Center's (MSAC's) day program—a decision she says has been overwhelmingly positive. The day program is located at the center, 2200 University Ave., St. Paul.

“Some people are so afraid when they come here, but I was really excited," she says. "Look at all these people, and we’re all the same—we all have our butts stuck in wheelchairs!’”

A generous and neighborly donation
Andrea works at Caring Professionals Homecare, headquartered just down the block from MSAC. Wanting to extend the sense of community she’s found at Fairview, she helped facilitate a recent $1,000 donation from Caring Professionals to MSAC.

“The owner of Caring Professionals wanted to donate to the Achievement Center because some of our clients go here,” Andrea says. “He and some others took a tour, and I think they were totally blown away by what we do.”

“The employees of Caring Professionals Homecare are dedicated to improving the lives of the clients we serve. They also understand the value that great organizations, such as Fairview MS Achievement Center, bring to the community,” says Jennifer Heusinkveld, homecare vice president of Caring Professionals. “We are honored to support the center.”

A garden of giving
This donation is just the latest example of how the Fairview MS Achievement Center partners with its neighbors to build a strong community for its more than 110 clients.

The lush garden veranda behind the building was built and funded almost entirely by RockTenn, a paper and packaging company whose warehouse abuts the MSAC property.

RockTenn also donated a gas grill and, every spring, its employees help turn over the gardens.

During the summer, the center hosts barbecues for day program clients and RockTenn employees.

Students from Breck School in Golden Valley painted a large mural on the side of the MSAC building facing the veranda, and a local sculptor donated a colorful metal-and-water feature that bubbles softly in the corner of the garden.

Andrea says such partnerships are crucial to supporting MS patients. “It has to be a community-based effort,” she says.

‘Every day, we’re helping somebody’
For 27 years—including 25 in its current location—Fairview’s MS Achievement Center has hosted a licensed day program for adults with MS, as well as outpatient occupational and physical therapy.

Each day, about 30 clients, ages 22 to 85, enjoy cognitive skills exercises, creative art therapy, support groups and a hot lunch. There also are classes such as yoga and tai chi, and physical and occupational therapy.

“We see some patients more than their families see them, especially if they live in a group home,” says Heidi Elm, social worker and MSAC supervisor.

“We get to learn their symptoms and get to know them personally. It’s a great feeling to know that, every day, we’re helping somebody. To see even the smallest success in a patient is rewarding.”
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