Category Archives: Lifeworks Events

Ice Cream, Ice Cream, We all Scream for Ice Cream!

Submitted by Kath Pengelly, volunteer and advocate coordinator at Lifeworks

Lifeworks client Peter Goldberg, singer for the Lifeworks Rock of Ages band

Picture a hot sunny summer day, 90 degrees out and steamy. Now think about frosty ice cream treats, water balloons, water blasters, fun crafts and great music to boot. Sounds like fun to me. On June 27, Lifeworks Eagan hosted a wiz bang ice cream social complete with ice cream and a water balloon toss. It was a glorious day to celebrate summer and cool off from the heat. We were supported in our celebration by employees from Uponor in Apple Valley. They came to help, celebrate and have fun too.Music was provided by two of our Lifeworks bands, The Rock of Ages and also the AT Real Time Band. While the music was heating up the ice cream was cooling us down.  

The Rock of Ages band with Lifeworks President and CEO, Judy Lysne (far right) and PCA Joe Bernes (lower left)

Groups like the Uponor employees are an important ingredient to making events a success. Thanks Uponor for making the fun time more fun. In my opinion, ice cream is happiness condensed, thanks for helping us find happiness.

Uponor volunteers, Melony Denson and Jon Mendel at the crafts table


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At the Lifeworks Annual Celebration presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, 925 guests joined in celebrating the evening’s theme of Empower, Inspire,  Achieve. The Annual Celebration was held on April 19, 2012 at The Depot in Minneapolis honoring people who have triumphed over adversity and those who have championed their cause – the people we serve, our business partners, employers, donors, volunteers, and other members of the Lifeworks community.

Lifeworks Annual Celebration

View more photos from the Annual Celebration on the Lifeworks Flickr page.

Due to the generosity of guests and sponsors, Lifeworks was able to raise over $26,000 through the live and silent art auction, and over $83,000 during the special ask for transportation funding – helping purchase a new bus for Lifeworks clients! Additionally, event sponsors whose generosity totaled $137,000, made the Annual Celebration possible.

The evening began with an open cocktail hour for all guests in the Depot’s Great Hall including a silent art auction, viewing of the Lifeworks Traveling Art Show, a special presentation of sculptures from the Diversity is Enrichment exhibit, and a networking reception room sponsored be SCICOM Data Services. Guests later moved to The Depot’s Pavilion for dinner and the evening’s program. In addition to The Depot’s delicious menu and skill in accommodating nearly 1,000 hot dinners, Peace Coffee donated the evening’s coffee and created charming center pieces that were later gifted to guests whose birthdays corresponded to the event’s date.

In her opening remarks, Judy Lysne, president and CEO of Lifeworks Services, drove home the theme of the evening with her inspiring words,

“Lifeworks believes that we all carry the power to achieve- regardless of ability, and we aim to light the spark of inspiration for each and every person we serve. The simple belief in one’s ability to achieve is the foundation for self esteem, the building blocks for inspiration, and most importantly, achievement provides a vessel to inclusion and participation in the community.”

These words were exemplified throughout the evening as guests watched inspiring videos highlighting the achievements of Lifeworks Annual Award Winners, including:

Unitron Hearing, Employer of the Year

Gary Grundy, Advocate of the Year

Larry Olding, Personal Achievement

David Spragg, Personal Achievement

Click on the names above to watch any of the Lifeworks Annual Award winner’s videos on the Lifeworks YouTube page.

Following the award presentation, auctioneer Glen Fladeboe took the floor for a live auction. As always, Fladeboe expressed charm and pizzazz as he hosted the auction of several titillating items leading to intense bidding wars, including a locked battle for the famous Dinner with Judy item.

Lifeworks Annual Celebration

To end the evening, a special ask was conducted to help shoulder the burden of transportation costs with the goal of purchasing a new Lifeworks bus. To add meat to the ask, the bus in question was actually in the parking lot presented to the guests through a live video feed. The response was overwhelming, with guest contributing amounts from $25 all the way up to $5,000, ensuring the goal of $80,000 was met and exceeded!

In the end, Judy Lysne offered her heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all the guests of the Lifeworks Annual Celebration for empowering individuals to believe in themselves, inspiring each person to explore their deepest ambitions, and providing support so that every individual can experience the satisfaction of achievement.

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The Lifeworks 2011 Holiday Choir and Variety Show

Submitted by Adrian Freeman, interactive marketing and communications specialist, Lifeworks

What is the power of 20 red and green holiday clad singers belting out their favorite Christmas carols? How would someone go about grading the energy of the 2011 Holiday Choir and Variety Show? Can such a thing even be measured? We may not have an accurate measurement like horse power or Fahrenheit for such things.  We simply do not have a system to measure holiday cheer with any certainty.  That said, there was magic in the room at St. Luke Presbyterian church on a hazy, warm December morning in the deep and quaint backstreets of Wayzeta.  Holiday cheer was present in abundance, along with a good bit of joy, glee, exuberance, and maybe even a tad of jocundity.  It was electric. If it does indeed need to be measured, let’s just say it scores 101 whiskers on the Santa Beard Scale of Cheer. That means it was good.

Lifeworks Holiday Choir

The Lifeworks Holiday Choir from left to right: Johanna Schmidt, Jenna Horgan, Tavarrus Robinson, Judy Carnahan, Shelli Wickstrom, Jennifer Roache, Johnathan Straub, Alex Kim, Anna Phillips, Lori Schaller, Nicole Laufers, Heather Schullo, Racheal Crandall, Caleb Rasmussen, Angela Balfanz, Aaron Godzala, Sarah Debbins, Charles Duffney, Dustin Kiefer, Lindie Seleen, Andrea Hoopman

The 2011 Holiday Choir and Variety Show was a delight to those who attended and those who participated alike.  The show included holiday favorite songs like “Jingle Bells”, “Joy to the World”, and “Dreidel”, as well as dancing, comedy, a piano solo, artwork, and more.  The large center of worship was filled with family, friends, peers, and nearly the entire Lifeworks finance team, who reveled in the performance with cheers and applause. Heather Schullo, choir singer, said this of the show,

“It brought everyone together, and I think everyone really enjoyed themselves.  We worked really hard and came a long way, it was so much fun!”

Lifeworks Heather Schullo

Heather Schullo looking calm and confident before the performance

This was the general attitude of all the performers concerning the show.  For many it was their way of saying thank you to the community by giving the gift of holiday cheer to others. Some had a special reason for singing in the show.  Lindie Seleen said

“I hope I sang well.  My dad was in the audience, and I was singing for him the whole time.”

The 2011 Holiday Choir and Variety Show was the brain child of Jenna Horgan, music therapist at lifeworks, Service Facilitator Johanna Schmidt, and individuals served at lifeworks Brooklyn Park. This group of talented people with various abilities and expertise devised the Holiday Choir and Variety Show as a way to embrace performance while giving back to the community.  Originally, Jenna had the idea of a choir as a way to enhance services at Lifeworks Brooklyn Park. Singing has always been her thing, and as a musical therapist she understood that a choir could go a long way to further the goals of many people served at Lifeworks.  She approached Lifeworks Brooklyn Park as a potential home base to populate her choir, and there she was directed to Johanna.  Johanna, a long time fan of Lifeworks Brooklyn Park performance in all its forms, had been organizing a holiday variety show for the last few years.  This turned out to be a perfect match.  Jenna was looking for participants for her choir, Johanna had been organizing performers at Lifeworks Brooklyn Park, and those served at Brooklyn Park were chewing at the bit for an opportunity like the Holiday Choir to perform.

Lifeworks Jenna and Johanna

Johanna and Jenna, the Holiday Choir and Variety Show organizers celebrating after a job well done.

Before the show, the choir and performers were both professional and pumped up.  Everyone was decked out in either red or green attire to show that the holiday spirit was alive.  Caleb, an experienced singer, was a model performer sporting an elegant button top colored red Polo sweater and green tie.  Everyone was in their season’s finest, a site to behold.  The mood was jovial, smiles being the preferred expression.  Surprisingly, everyone was calm with only a smattering of tense, anxious energy.  This was because Johanna and Jenna had run a tight practicing ship in preparation.  This was no “get up and sing” improv concert, this was hard work, training, and preparation.  The laid back attitude of the participants was evidence to this point.

Lifeworks Holiday Crowd

The crowd enjoying the Lifeworks Holiday Choir

Kath Pengelly, Lifeworks volunteer/advocate coordinator handed out programs and showed guests to their seats.  With grace and poise she greeted arrivals and marveled at the turnout.  Many Lifeworks locations came out to see the concert.  Even Lifeworks Hasting showed up, braving the hour long winter drive to Wayzeta.  Many parents and family members were happy to attend and catch up with acquaintances before the show.  Judy Lysne, Lifeworks president and CEO was excited to see so many familiar faces and visit with old friends.

Lifeworks Holiday Solo

Jingle Bells performed by the Lifeworks Holiday Choir

The show began in a hush as Jenna quietly took the conducting stand and gestured for her choir to rise. The choir stood, lifting their matching red music folders and sang.  As voices filled the room with song, the audience’s attention was absolute.  Smiles and looks of adoration decorated the face of the watchers and camera flashes twinkled like tiny stars on a Christmas night. Each song progressed with skill and passion.  Many songs included solos by select singers.  After one such shared solo by Caleb and Aaron Godzala, they shook hands to congratulate each other for a job well done.  It was a touching moment.  The variety aspect of the show was a refreshing change of pace, adding a sense of adventure to the morning.  Dustin tickled the audience’s humor with his holiday jokes, a moving piano solo was performed by Alex Kim, and a special dance and drum performance was particularly tasteful.  Even posters for the show were made specially by Charles Duffney.

Lifeworks Holiday Choir

Soloists Caleb Rasmussen and Aaron Godzala knock it out of the park

The show ended with a standing ovation that obviously touched the performer’s hearts.  As the clapping died away, friends and family nearly barreled over each other in an attempt to reach the choir and congratulate them for a job well done.  The scene was suddenly filled with hugs, high-fives, and handshakes.  Angela VanKeulen met with her friend Judy Carnahan and said “You did such a good job, I had no idea you had such a good voice, but once you got the microphone I could hear it.  It was well done.” Caleb reflected about his experience, and had this to say about the choir,

“Singing is important because it helps other feel  good, and helps me do well in life.”

Now, the choir is continuing their journey.  They are in the process of learning new songs for their next show, soon to be determined.  Keep an eye here on this blog and also on the Lifeworks Facebook page to get information about upcoming shows for the Lifeworks Choir.

Watch a video of the choir performing Dreidal.

See more pictures of the 2011 Lifeworks Holiday Choir and Variety Show on our Flickr page here.

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Lifeworks 24th Annual Celebration

On April 22, more than 800 people gathered at The Depot in Minneapolis to celebrate and honor Lifeworks clients and those who support them at the Lifeworks 24th Annual Celebration, “A Perfect Fit.” 

The Lifeworks 24th Annual Celebration

The Lifeworks 24th Annual Celebration


“You are our perfect fit,” Judy Lysne, president and CEO of Lifeworks, told the group. “We couldn’t do what we do without you.” 

The evening began with a private VIP business social for event sponsors and an open cocktail reception for all guests in The Depot’s Great Hall. Guests chatted, viewed the Lifeworks Traveling Art Show, and enjoyed live music. Guests later moved to The Depot’s Pavilion for dinner and the evening’s program. 

In his opening remarks, Steve Wexler, CEO of KaiserComm and chair of the Lifeworks board of directors, welcomed guests and shared a few highlights from the organization’s year in numbers. He also made the group a promise: 

“Sometime tonight, your eyes will well up with tears or you’ll get a chill up your spine. Something that happens on stage will touch you,” said Wexler. 

By the end of the evening, Wexler’s promise was easily kept. Many guests dabbed their eyes as they watched moving videos highlighting the achievements of each of the year’s award winners, including: 

  • Rollie Keeley, a Lifeworks client employed by ABM Industries, and Kim Moore, a Lifeworks client employed by Wal-Mart, who both received Personal Achievement awards
  • Key Surgical, Employer of the Year
  • Caryn Addante, Advocate of the Year

Following the award presentation, auctioneer Glen Fladeboe took the floor for a live auction. Among the items up for bidding were vacation packages, Twins tickets, an “instant wine cellar” and a private tour of the Walker Art Center. Fladeboe’s trademark humor and warmth helped raise $14,750 to support Lifeworks’ programs. 

Glen Fladeboe

Auctioneer Glen Fladeboe at the Lifeworks 24th Annual Celebration


As the auction concluded, Fladeboe asked everyone in attendance to consider making a gift to defray Lifeworks’ transportation costs. Guests responded with donations ranging from $10 to $2,500, resulting in an additional $47,000 raised. 

“Though 2009 was a tough year for the economy, our generous supporters ensured it was a great year for Lifeworks,” says Wexler. “Based on the Annual Celebration, I suspect 2010 will be no different. We are blessed with supporters who recognize the importance of the work we do, and are inspired to join us in making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.”

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