Udac CHALLENGE Gala Letter

November 4, 2020

Dear Friend of Udac,

It is my great pleasure to invite you to support Udac programs serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by announcing that your generous gift will be matched dollar for dollar up to $20,000 through a thoughtful matching gift provided by Joe and Nancy Bullyan and Karen and David Herman. Our goal is to raise $75,000 to enhance and develop virtual programs that will help individuals with disabilities deal with social isolation and stay active and connected to the community. Your support will make a significant impact. To donate and join the virtual Udac CHALLENGE Gala please go to https://www.udac.org/get-involved/donate/

Udac MISSION: Service to the disability community through the Udac mission to CHALLENGE disability, CREATE opportunity and CULTIVATE success is more important now than ever. COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of society and as a result Udac programs. Social and physical distancing has demanded thoughtful changes to our programs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 to those in the community that are most vulnerable. The temporary closure of the Udac building for the safety of the individuals we serve, our employees and our community prevents us from meeting in person and gathering in large groups. The continued rise of COVID-19 cases in the Duluth area warrants ongoing caution regarding congregate settings and demands the development of new programs to support those with disabilities. Udac will continue to be active in the community and with virtual programs while social and physical distancing and avoiding large group gatherings is necessary.

During this challenging and difficult period of time, the Udac Board of Directors has supported Udac leadership in making investments in the development of new programs and new opportunities that will position Udac to more fully serve those with disabilities into the future. Udac has used this challenging time as an opportunity to tap the expertise of the University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration (ICI), the resources of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and other disability advocacy organizations to inspire growth, excellence and creativity in our work and in the development of inspired programs. I want to share a few highlights of the work our dedicated employees are doing to design and implement new programs. Their dedicated work with these individualized programs serve to advance our mission and ensure Udac’s place as a provider of excellence into the future. Our employees are exceptional in their commitment to this effort and the talent they bring to this endeavor is outstanding.

EMPLOYMENT: Udac is active in supporting individuals in the community by assisting them to achieve their employment goals and new levels of desired independence. This rewarding and fulfilling work is succeeding in the development of independence, the advancement of employment skills and assisting Duluth area businesses to reopen. Employers have reached out to Udac and embraced hiring individuals with disabilities in their businesses and we have responded to their needs. Through the expertise of a “career coach,” each individual in the new employment program has achieved significant levels of independence in their employment including independent transportation. One woman, with limited verbal skills, is now using individualized and customized transportation cards to help her explain where her destination is located. She uses a “picto-check-list” that shows photos of each step of her job and allows her to successfully complete her work independently. She is able to return to her home using the resources developed to support her independence. Her success speaks to Udac employees’ assessment of possibilities and their commitment to developing tools to advance her independence. Her success and new level of independence is reflected in other areas of her life.

VIRTUAL PROGRAMS: Social isolation can be pronounced for those who are not able to independently be in the community. Udac employees have pivoted time and talent to develop virtual services to address the social isolation that has been a part of the pandemic experience for many people with disabilities. The virtual programs Udac has developed and delivered have been well received with the development of new programs in progress. Joy is evident on screen in the reunion of friends and in the conversations that are part of the online experience. Your generous support of the Udac CHALLENGE Gala will advance this important program.

A partnership with the College of St. Scholastica’s School of Nursing and the Occupational Therapy program to enhance Udac’s virtual offerings and the students’ community experience has mutually benefited everyone; the individuals served, the students’ experience working with individuals with disabilities, and the excellence of Udac programs. The students bring new ideas and new energy that complement the depth of experience and knowledge brought by Udac employees. The synergy created is igniting new creativity and new design in the Udac virtual programs under development. The students’ participation inspires us further in our work.

BUSINESS PARTNERS: Our society is experiencing unprecedented change and Udac has used this time to evaluate and improve our programs. We are grateful to our trailblazing employers including EasyLiving, Duluth Nets and Superior Nets for their contributions to our employment program. You will soon see their stories featured during the Udac CHALLENGE on Facebook and the Udac website https://www.udac.org/ New videos will be added throughout October and November. Please visit frequently for updates.

UMD BULLDOGS: The Udac CHALLENGE fundraiser will run throughout November with the CHALLENGE Gala kick-off event on November 6, 2020 from 5:00-5:30. You can participate from the comfort of your own home! The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, our dedicated student athletes, will provide a salute to Udac and you will have the opportunity to learn more about our programs in a virtual format. Thank you, BULLDOGS, and the University of Minnesota Duluth for your more than 12 years of support!

Much has changed in our society, much has changed in our community and much has changed at Udac. While our building has remained closed to congregate services, we have invested time, resources and energy in preparing for the future. The challenges presented to us have become an opportunity. We cannot change all that has happened but we can use this time to address needed change and be in a better position to serve our mission in the future. I am confident of Udac’s future as a provider of excellent programs and services for individuals with disabilities. The pandemic has strengthen our commitment to the Udac mission and to creating a future that fulfills our mission, “to create a community where opportunity is accessible to individuals of all abilities; on person, one career, one possibility at a time.

Your thoughtful generosity is deeply appreciated!
Thank you and stay well,

Karen Herman
Executive Director
Udac, Inc.

Join the virtual Udac CHALLENGE Gala

Udac CHALLENGE Gala and a Pandemic Survival Kit

  1. We have partnered with MidCoast Catering to bring our gala celebration to you virtually in the comfort of your home.
  2. Go to udac2021.sek1.wpengine.com and choose your Udac Challenge Pandemic Survival Kit and we will **deliver it to you, mail it to you or you can pick it up at Udac.
  3. Then, join us on November 6 from 5:00 – 5:30 p.m. to celebrate with us at Udac.org or Facebook.com to hear about the exciting work happening at Udac.

Each Survival Kit Contains:

  • Delicious goodies for two
  • 2 Udac Face Masks & Personal Size Hand Sanitizer (naturally!)
  • And your choice of 2 etched wine glasses or 2 coffee mugs.

Your purchase of the $100 Social Hour Kit entitles you to a $25.00 tax-deductible charitable contribution. Quantiles are limited – Food items subject to change. **No contact delivery within 10 miles of Udac. Safety precautions will be taken at time of delivery.

We will be fundraising for Udac programing November 6 – December 4. Be a part of the movement that supports virtual program services for people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities – visit https://www.udac.org/ often to participate and donate!