The Medicare Part D Open Enrollment period for 2013 Medicare plans begins October 15 and extends through December 7. This is a great time for persons with disabilities to make an appointment with Michelle Malakowsky to review your Medicare Part D plan. Every year, many plans change coverage of certain drugs or raise their prices. Consumers can save a lot of money by just reviewing their current plan and finding out what the changes will be for 2014. 

Michelle Malakowsky, the Advocacy Manager at SMILES, is a trained State Health Insurance Provider(SHIP) through the Senior Linkage Line to provide this free service. Call to schedule an appointment. You will need to bring your current medications with for the appointment. All information is strictly confidential.

Click to view the flyer: Medicare Part D Open Enrollment

Category : General Information

SMILES offices in Mankato, Waseca, Fairmont and New Ulm will be closed in observance of Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd, 2013.  We will re-open at 8:00 am on Tuesday, September 3rd.  Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Category : General Information

PBS NewsHour aired a program on Wednesday, August 7th titled “Limited Funds, Lingering Bias Has Delayed States’ ADA Compliance”.   George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990, but more than two decades later, problems still persist in implementing portions of the landmark civil rights measure. Judy Woodruff reports on the struggle states face to fully transition individuals with disabilities out of institutional living.

You can view this segment on-line at:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/government_programs/july-dec13/ada_08-07.html

Category : Disability Awareness | General Information


SMILES a Center for Independent Living has a full-time position available involving the management, of its Peer Counseling, Recreation and Volunteer Programs. 

This position is responsible for recruiting, interviewing, training and supervising all potential Peer Mentors and Volunteers.  The position is also responsible for arranging and conducting various recreational events. 

The candidate should possess knowledge of various disabilities; knowledge of program coordination; ability to perform supervisory duties; ability to work with diverse populations of individuals with disabilities; work flexible hours; and have reliable transportation. 

Minimum qualifications require a Bachelors Degree in a Human Services or related field of study combined with one year of work experience in a disability related position. 

Starting salary $28,100 -$30-348 per year plus benefit package.  If you have any questions, or would like to request an application packet, call 507-345-7139. 

Closing date Friday August 22, 2013.  SMILES is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 

Category : General Information

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) provides and opportunity for volunteers to put the skills, talents, and life experiences into motion for others – and benefit our Minnesota communities in the process.  Sharing the skills they have spent years developing, RSVP volunteers put those skills into practice to improve the lives of community members throughout the state.  whether building homes for the needy, preparing income tax reports for the elderly, or mentoring a child, RSVP volunteers strengthen our communities.

Benefits include:

  • A non- taxable stipend of $2.65 per hour (minimum of 15 hours of service per week to qualify).
  • Transportation reimbursement and stipended time off.
  • ongoing training and recognition
  • Accident and liability insurance while volunteering
  • Possible meal on site.

To qualify as a volunteer

  • You must be 55 years of age or older and in good general health.
  • Be flexible and available with service activity schedule.
  • Have dependable transportation available and is willing to travel in the service area.
  • Have compassion, patience, flexibility and respect for others.
  • Work well with diverse individuals, families, groups and organizations.

Find out more about our programs online at mnseniorcorps.org. 

Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents are two of the programs under the “umbrella” of Senior Corps.  The third program is RSVP, coordinated by Lora Brady in Mankato.  The Minnesota Senior Corps is part of the National Senior Corps operated under the Corporation for National and Community Service.

More that 15,000 seniors in Minnesota contribute their time and talents in one of three Senior Corps programs.  Foster Grandparents serve one-on-one as tutors and mentors to more than 5,600 young people who have special needs.  Senior Companions help more than 2,300 seniors and other adults maintain independence in their own homes or apartments. RSVP is “one stop shopping” for all volunteers 55 and over who want to find challenging, rewarding, and significant service opportunities in their local communities.

The Foster Grandparent Program provides the opportunity for volunteers age 55 and better to make a lasting difference in the lives of our children and youth in a variety of settings, including elementary schools, preschools, shelters, childcare centers, and juvenile detention centers.  From striving to prepare children for success in elementary school to mentoring incarcerated teenagers Foster Grandparent volunteers make a difference in the lives of those they serve.  The Senior Companion Program provides an opportunity for volunteers age 55 and better to support the desire of elderly Minnesotans to live independently.  Senior Companion volunteers support elderly individuals who have difficulty with daily living tasks.  The also enable elderly Minnesotans to live independently by providing transportation to essential activities such as medical appointments and household errands. 


Category : General Information

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is extremely excited to announce that a bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, S. 1356, to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and its contained Rehabilitation Act. Staff from the offices of Senator Harkin and Senator Alexander made an announcement this morning at 10 AM during the NCIL Conference, presenting a bill that has historic significance for Independent Living, including the introduction of a new Independent Living Administration (ILA).

This bill has a number of provisions that strengthen America’s Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and also would relocate the Independent Living Program from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) in the Department of Education to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

NCIL would especially like to acknowledge the efforts of Senate HELP Committee staff including Andrew Imparato, Lee Perselay, and Bill Knudsen for working closely together across party lines to create a bipartisan bill that presents common sense solutions for many of our toughest problems.

The bill is scheduled to be marked up on July 31, 2013, and NCIL will be monitoring HELP Committee activity very closely to ensure that our progress remains intact.

NCIL members should be incredibly proud of this achievement; the introduction of such a favorable bill in the Senate is no small feat. However we must use this excitement and momentum to encourage senators to pass this bill out of the HELP Committee, and we need every available advocate to make calls and visits to the 22 members of the Senate responsible for taking this bill to the next level, a full vote on the Senate floor.

Below is a list of senators on the HELP Committee that need to be contacted at their local offices. Even if you don’t have a senator on this list, we are urging you to contact one in a neighboring state, asking them to pass S. 1356 out of committee. We need our members to call this week; there will be no second chances. We have come this far, now is our moment, and we must act immediately.

Senators on the HELP Committee:

Democrats by Rank

  • Tom Harkin (IA):  (515) 284-4574
  • Barbara A. Mikulski (MD): (410) 962-4510
  • Patty Murray (WA): (206) 553-5545
  • Bernard Sanders (VT): (802) 862-0697
  • Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA): (215) 405-9660
  • Kay R. Hagan (NC): (704) 334-2448
  • Al Franken (MN): (651) 221-1016
  • Michael F. Bennet (CO): (303) 455-7600
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): (401) 453-5294
  • Tammy Baldwin (WI): (414) 297-4451
  • Christopher S. Murphy (CT): (860) 549-8463
  • Elizabeth Warren (MA): (617) 565-3170

Republicans by Rank

  • Lamar Alexander (TN): (615) 736-5129
  • Michael B. Enzi (WY): (307) 772-2477
  • Richard Burr (NC): (336) 631-5125
  • Johnny Isakson (GA): (770) 661-0999
  • Rand Paul (KY): (859) 219-2239
  • Orrin G. Hatch (UT): (801) 524-4380
  • Pat Roberts (KS): (785) 295-2745
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK): (907) 586-7277
  • Mark Kirk (IL): (312) 886-3506
  • Tim Scott (SC): (803) 771-6112
Category : General Information

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs announced emergency storm relief grants for up to $1,000 in reimbursement of expenses related to the storm on June 21, 2013. Grants are available to eligible veterans and spouses residing in Benton, Dakota, Faribault, Fillmore, Hennepin, Houston, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lyon, McLeod, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Swift, Todd, Wilkin, Wright Counties.

All applications must be submitted no later than September 30, 2013 and must include copies of receipts for storm-related expenses.  Contact your County Veteran Services Office or the Center for Independent Living in your area.

For more information or to complete a grant application, contact the Lyon County Veteran Services Office, located at the Lyon County Government Center, 607 West Main Street in Marshall or call the office at (507) 537-6729.

Veterans with disabilities in Sibley or Faribault Counties who need assistance completing the application may contact SMILES Center for Independent Living or phone 507-345-7139 (888-676-6498 toll free).  Veterans in Jackson or Lyon Counties  may contact Southwestern Center for Independent Living.

Category : General Information