Human Services

True Friends

Annandale, MN   |  www.truefriends.org

Mission

Provide life-changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for children and adults with disabilities.

Ruling year info

1986

President & CEO

John LeBlanc

Main address

10509 108th ST NW

Annandale, MN 55302 USA

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Formerly known as

Children's Disability Services Association

Friendship Ventures

Camps of Courage & Friendship

EIN

41-1543013

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Developmentally Disabled Services/Centers (P82)

Recreational and Sporting Camps (Day, Overnight, etc.) (N20)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our overall objective is to address therapeutic, social, recreational, enrichment and respite care needs for individuals with disabilities and their families. Resident camps, day camps and respite weekend camps give parents the break they need, and offer those with disabilities a chance to spend time with and befriend peers, learn new skills, experience new challenges, gain independence and have fun.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Camp

Our program provides opportunities to develop an appreciation of nature, live cooperatively with others, share in the responsibilities of group living, develop new leisure interests, experience traditional camp activities and have fun!

General sessions provide a traditional camp experience for children and teenagers, while the resort-like settings at all five locations offer a relaxing and refreshing atmosphere for adult guests. Guests determine their own activity interests and level of participation. Siblings and friends are also welcome to attend.

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities
People with physical disabilities

Respite care can be a life-saver for families who have 24/7 care duties for a loved one with disabilities. Programs operate most weekends throughout the year from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Participants may stay for all or part of a weekend; fees are prorated based on length of stay. Programs feature seasonal outdoor activities, day trips, group recreation and social skill-building. Respite services are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Population(s) Served
Families
People with disabilities

True Strides is a Horsemanship Program providing opportunities for individuals of all abilities to experience therapeutic riding sessons and hippo therapy, which provides individualized physical or occupational therapy on horseback. Through intentionally designed programming, participants gain improved coordination, self-esteem, endurance, mobility, muscle strengthening, balance, cognitive planning, confidence, attention span, and social skills.

Population(s) Served
People with physical disabilities
People with disabilities

Ventures Travel offers growth through travel. The benefits are educational, physical and social. Often, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face challenges with travel preparation and navigation. For more than 25 years Ventures Travel has specialized in companion travel vacations for people with disabilities. Our trips are designed for persons who benefit from supervised travel. Our small group size encourages independence and socializing. We believe it’s important for travelers to help make decisions about their destinations, activities, attractions and meals.

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities
People with disabilities

Where we work

Accreditations

American Camping Association (ACA) - Accreditation 2014

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Camper and caregiver needs continue year-round, and we endeavor to offer a wide range of opportunities for enrichment throughout the year in response: Ventures Travel provides the growth travel affords for adults with disabilities; True Strides specialized riding therapy sessions run weekly all year; and Team Quest conducts its accessible climbing, zip lines and aerial challenges all year. Specific objectives and intentional activities guide programs, ensuring developmentally appropriate activities and challenges and combining camaraderie with therapeutic benefits of outdoor recreation. Participants build skills and abilities, challenge themselves, learn to appreciate nature. We provide a safe place for everyone to gain new experiences, participate in activities at their own pace and develop self-efficacy, independence, life and leadership skills.

We adapt typical camp activities to everyone’s ability, offering hiking, games, singing, biking, drama, arts and crafts, climbing and swimming. To best meet client needs, we maintain a full healthcare staff, an average ratio of one care-giving staffer for every two participants, and one-on-one care when needed. We work continually to improve training processes to create active, responsive and engaged staff members. Staffing costs are significant, and impact program fees, but True Friends is committed to helping families benefit from programs regardless of their ability to pay. With our tiered fee structure, families pay fees that reflect their child’s needs; those requiring less staff aid pay less. While helpful to families, it requires True Friends to subsidize up to $1 million of costs.

Most True Friends participants cannot be served elsewhere - their needs are too great; they require special, individualized support and health care. Staff duties include helping with personal cares, planning, arranging and leading a variety of fun, challenging activities adapted for everyone’s special needs, monitoring health concerns, disbursing medication, and managing special diets, allergies or sensory imbalance. The quality, specialized, care that True Friends’ highly trained staff members provide ensures that campers build skills and capacity, stay safe and healthy during their stay and gives parents crucial peace of mind.

Each program and camp session follows a playbook or operations manual, which details structure, format, activities and goals for each participant. Goals relate to topics such as verbal and non-verbal communication, social, leadership skills, peer relationship building, living cooperatively and willingness to push themselves to experience new challenges. Activities and staff support focus on helping participants meet identified goals and recognize and articulate their success. Some families, teachers or social workers also identify individual goals for participants, which staff monitor, track and report. During programs, caregiving staff monitor and assess each participant’s experience and progress towards goals. These participant experience reports indicate progress along with an account of program activities every day, their adaptations to group living, and any especially notable experiences. Reports are given to parents or caregivers to give them insight into their child's activities

Most notable recent accomplishments include: • Built skills and independence for 2,624 children, teens and adults who participated in 4,984 Friendship or Courage camps, respite care weekends, horse therapy sessions or Ventures Travel trips in 2017. • Helped families unable to afford fees by extending $241,797 in financial assistance. • Provided automatic subsidies of more than $1 million to cover the gap between actual program costs and registration fees; the tiered fee program is important to maintain program affordability for families. • Investigated new options to respond to growing requests for respite services. Built a dedicated respite program building at Camp Eden Wood to expand and improve programs and increase availability.

Financials

True Friends
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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True Friends

Board of directors
as of 11/19/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Jonathan Gordon

JR Gordon LTD

Jeff Bangsberg

Gaylen Ghylin

Tiller Corporation

Robert Harnett

UBS Financial Services

David Jones

Allina Health System

Carole Mills

Carlson

Greg Wallace

Northwest Mutual

Mary Ellen Wells

CentraCare Health

Floyd Adelman

Inner Circle-Twin Cities (retired)

Todd Dyste

R&M Manufacturing

Marilyn Hallstrom

Hallstrom Consulting

Tina Hebert

Intacct

Bob Polland

Courage Center (retired)

John Bredemus

Allianz Investment Management

Jeff Cowan

Verata Analytics, LLC

Shelly Nelson

Cambria

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Keywords

Camp, travel, respite, summer, winter, day, program, services, physical, mental, psychological, learning, disability, disabilities, special needs, horse, children, adult, youth, volunteer, Minnesota,