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MNRAAA Receives Prestigious Service Enterprise Accreditation

Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, Inc. (MNRAAA) is pleased to announce that it has achieved national accreditation in strategic volunteer engagement by AL!VE. Achieving Service Enterprise accreditation is a prestigious accomplishment. In fact, MNRAAA has joined the top 11 percent of nonprofits nationwide in volunteer management and organizational performance. Accreditation signifies that MNRAAA has the capability and management expertise to strategically engage community members and volunteers to improve the performance of our organization and meet community needs.


MNRAAA is the designated area agency on aging in Southwestern Minnesota, serving twenty-seven counties. Its vision is to assist older adults to thrive. In working with community-based organizations, MNRAAA provides funding (through the Older Americans Act) to support home-delivered meals, congregate meals, transportation, and caregiver support. MNRAAA, with the Minnesota Board on Aging, also operates the Senior LinkAge Line. 


To be successful, MNRAAA utilizes volunteers to reach out to older adults and caregivers. Volunteers assist in outreach events such as leading presentations, dropping off materials, or managing a booth at community events. As a non-profit organization, MNRAAA relies on volunteers to serve on our Board of Directors or Committees. Finally, MNRAAA features an administrative volunteer opportunity.


MNRAAA completed an extensive assessment, including training and coaching, and a comprehensive internal planning and change process to integrate volunteers into our human capital strategy better. By achieving this level of excellence and accreditation, we are better equipped to leverage community members’ and volunteers’ time and talent to deliver our mission more effectively.


“Working through the SEI process has allowed us to reflect, renew, and reimagine volunteerism at MNRAAA. We have been more intentional in our volunteer roles that support our staff and clients, which enhance our opportunities to help older adults to thrive.” Stated Kylie Chandler, Contact Center Manager with MNRAAA. 


MNRAAA began this journey in February 2022. “The COVID-19 pandemic produced a large exodus of volunteers from our organization and other community-based non-profits.” Stated Jason W. Swanson, Executive Director. “We needed to learn to recruit new volunteers. It was a perfect opportunity to reimagine our program.”


MNRAAA worked closely with the Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement (MAVA). MAVA is an organization that assists other non-profit organizations in maximizing mission capacity through the utilization of volunteers. Holly Daniels of MAVA worked closely with MNRAAA in preparing their application for accreditation.


“The Service Enterprise process allowed MNRAAA to successfully decentralize volunteer coordination across several staff positions and beef up their cross-organizational support and communications about volunteers. They have seen new energy and momentum about engaging volunteers after giving staff a sense of ownership and a structure to work within.” Daniels commented on MNRAAA’s work through the process.  

Research conducted by the TCC Group, a national program and evaluation firm, found that organizations operating as Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations in all aspects of organizational effectiveness. They are more adaptable, sustainable, and capable of scaling their work.


The Service Enterprise program is a national change management program that helps organizations gain a greater return on volunteer investment to achieve their mission better. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities with our organization, please visit https://mnraaa.org/volunteer-opportunities/. For further information regarding Service Enterprise, please contact AL!VE’s National Service Enterprise Administrator, Kayla Paulson, at 319.310.0901 or [email protected].


About the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging 

MNRAAA’s vision is to assist older adults to thrive. MNRAAA provides advocacy, information, resources, and assistance so that older adults in southwest Minnesota can maintain the lifestyle of their choice. Learn more about MNRAAA at www.mnraaa.org. 



For more information on the Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement (MAVA) visit their website at https://mavanetwork.org/  

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MNRAAA Announces Four New Board of Directors

The Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, Inc. (MNRAAA) is pleased to announce the addition of four new members to the Board of Directors: Kellian Clink, Candace Fenske, Kimberly Holm, and Catie Lee.

Kellian Clink of Mankato currently serves as a professor at Minnesota State University-Mankato within the library and is an active member on campus and in her communities. She has experience volunteering with hospice and at the Connections Ministry. Ms. Clink also works with the Blue Earth County Social Services Task Force and liaises between the student government and the faculty association. A member of the American Library Association and the Minnesota Library Association, Ms. Clink has received awards from Minnesota State University-Mankato and the Being a Difference Award from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy Center for the Public Trust.


Catie Lee is the Director of Swift County Human Services. Lee is the current Equity Chair for the Minnesota Association of County Social Services Administrators (MACSSA) and has served on the Benson Communities Memory Loss Network and non-profits that have worked with the developmentally disabled population and public health. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Lee has completed the Equity Works Leadership program offered through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and holds a master’s Degree from Capella University.


Kimberly Holm is a graduate of Minnesota State University-Mankato with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field. Holm is currently the Executive Director of the Southwestern Minnesota Adult Mental Health Consortium (SMAMHC). SMAMHC is dedicated to improving the mental health of the 18 counties they serve. Holm is active in her community as a volunteer in her church and assisting fundraisers for the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter. One of Ms. Holm’s favorite quotes is, “There is no health without mental health.”


Candace Fenske spent her career in health care management, starting as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), becoming a registered nurse focusing on geriatrics, and retiring as a rural hospital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Ms. Fenske has stayed active with MNRAAA as a volunteer through her role as a member of the Planning Committee. She focuses on developing affordable housing for older adults and individuals with disabilities. Ms. Fenske continues to advocate for equitable healthcare access for diverse populations.


“I am thrilled to have Candace, Catie, Kellian, and Kimberly join our Board of Directors. Candace and Kellian have previously served on our Board and continue to bring new insights into the aging network. Catie and Kimberly are new to the Board. Catie brings great insight into the front-line struggles of workforce shortage and areas in which to work with caregivers. Kimberly’s knowledge of direct care and the continued need to address mental health will assist MNRAAA in reaching those with the greatest economic and social need.” stated Jason W. Swanson, Executive Director of MNRAAA.

When joining the board, the new board members were asked about their areas of interest or concern regarding older adults and caregiving.

“How do we, as a community, respond to the needs? With strong listening and research skills, concern, and sensitivity, we can discern the needs, celebrate the triumphs and lived experiences, and make our community the best place to age!” responded Clink.

Fenske said, “Providing advocacy and education for older adults to live well at home. Raising awareness around supportive services such as nutrition, transportation, and education.”

“Assisting individuals who may be coping with the loss of a loved one and providing education around grief while supporting healthy mental health,” replied Holm.

Lee stated, “My personal area of interest is memory loss and how to support individuals and families as they grapple with this.”

“On behalf of MNRAAA, I am delighted to extend a warm welcome to our newest board members. Their diverse expertise and commitment will undoubtedly bring new and fresh perspectives to the organization. We look forward to their invaluable contributions as we move forward in this important work of supporting older adults.” stated Khou Lor, MNRAAA Board Chair.

The MNRAAA Board of Directors is a volunteer governing board that features professionals from the twenty-seven-county area, ranging from a Director of Nursing Services at an area hospital to a retired superintendent. For more information or interest, please visit our website at www.mnraaa.org.



MNRAAA’s vision is to assist older adults to thrive. MNRAAA provides advocacy, information, resources, and assistance so that older adults in southwest Minnesota can maintain the lifestyle of their choice. Learn more about MNRAAA at www.mnraaa.org

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MNRAAA Announces Khou Lor Board Chair for 2024

The Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging (MNRAAA) has announced a new chair for their board of directors, Khou Lor. Lor took over the Chair position on January 1, 2024. Lor takes over for Kandyce Peton, who served as Board Chair for the last year of her term. 

“Peton guided MNRAAA through numerous changes in 2023. Two long-term staff retired, significant changes in our operation dictated by the Minnesota Board on Aging, and numerous legislative changes in 2023. She leads with professionalism and pose.” stated Jason W. Swanson, Executive Director. “Peton has informed us that she will remain a volunteer with MNRAAA. Her knowledge of caring for older adults is valued personally and professionally.”

“I found the 5 years of experience with MNRAAA rewarding professionally and personally. Extending affordable healthcare for Minnesotasenior citizens is a passion of mine and should be a top priority for all Minnesotans.” said Peton. Peton was elected to the Board in 2019.

“Lor brings to the Board an eye on expanding the programming MNRAAA has ramped up after the pandemic”, commented Swanson. “Her enthusiasm for community building and collaboration mimics many of the projects we currently engage in.”

Lor enjoys the relationships and the people of Southwest Minnesota and is determined to do what it takes to invite, share, and create space for voices in the region. As a first-generation immigrant, Khou spent many of her younger years navigating systems and being the voice for her immigrant parents.

Lor works at the Southwest Initiative Foundation as a Rural Equity Specialist. Lor works to build and strengthen thearea’sunderserved population and organizations by defining strengths and challenges, building skills, and being a resource in our region.

A photographer in her free time, Khou appreciates visual art. She also likes spending time with family. Khou is a leader and organizer in the Hmong community in southwest Minnesota.

“I am ready and look forward to taking on this exciting role! As someone who values community and the people within, I look forward to working alongside the board of Directors and staff to grow this important and intentional work of supporting older adults in our region.” Lor stated.

The MNRAAA Board of Directors, which features professionals from the twenty-seven-county area, is a volunteer governing board. Members of the board range from a director of nursing services at an area hospital to a retired superintendent. For more information or interest, please visit our website at www.mnraaa.org


About the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging

MNRAAA’s vision is to assist older adults to thrive. MNRAAA provides advocacy, information, resources, and assistance so that older adults in southwest Minnesota can maintain the lifestyle of their choice. Learn more about MNRAAA at www.mnraaa.org.

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