caring connections

aka NHRP, NP   |   Ely, MN   |


Northwoods Partners (NP)
(formerly Northwoods Hospice Respite Partners or NHRP)

Provide resources that promote independence and healthy aging

A community where people are able to age with dignity


Northwoods Partners serves the communities of Ely, Winton, Babbitt, Tower, Soudan, and the surrounding area.

Ruling year info


Executive Director / Caregiver Consultant

Lisa Porthan

Main address

328 West Conan Street

Ely, MN 55731 USA

Show more contact info



NTEE code info

Senior Centers/Services (P81)

Patient Services - Entertainment, Recreation (E86)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Northwoods Partners took the lead in establishing the ACT on Alzheimer's Ely ACTion Team in 2016. The ACTion Team includes community members from the clinic and hospital, city government, ministerial community, assisted living and long-term care settings, legal profession, businesses, pharmacies, local foundations, and caregivers.

Our team can point to raising awareness, providing education and transforming attitudes about Alzheimer's in Ely by:

1) Increased curiosity around what a dementia friendly community is and more conversations among community members
2) More caregivers and family members with dementia seeking resources and information
3) Volunteers engaging with people in their community who have dementia

In our work toward increasing dementia detection and improve care, we've seen an increase in referrals and use of resource materials as a result of ACT trainings with physicians and health care staff.

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?

Caregiver Consultant program

NPs professional Caregiver Consultant (CC) evaluates the needs of the caregiver and the person being cared for, trains and supervises volunteers to help meet those needs, leads support groups for caregivers, and helps them find other resources.

Population(s) Served

We coordinate volunteer visits for area residents who might be homebound or alone and want or need contact with the greater community.

Population(s) Served

We coordinate rides for meetings, errands and social events. Local and long distance rides are arranged for medical appointments. And we are always looking for new volunteer drivers!

Population(s) Served

We coordinate volunteer help for the person who cares for a chronically ill home-bound loved one. This allows the caregiver time to attend to other tasks and provides contact for the home-bound person.

Population(s) Served

We help guide you and your family through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia by providing resources and consultation to help reduce stress and increase family support.

Population(s) Served

Volunteers meet with people weekly in their homes to help increase their strength, flexibility, and balance. Exercises are customized for each individual.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Meets All Standards 2022

Charities Review Council

Affiliations & memberships

Chamber of Commerce 2022

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits 2022

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

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

The mission of Northwoods Partners is to provide resources that promote independence and healthy aging.

We envision a community where people are able to age with dignity.

The demand for Northwoods Partners services increases every year because of changing demographics in our area as well as the increased number of referral sources and word of mouth. We are experiencing an alarming increase in clients who are caregivers of loved ones with different forms of dementia. These families are need multiple services. We recognize the great need for our community to become dementia friendly to help support these families. Northwoods Partners entire staff includes one full-time executive/caregiver consultant and one part-time office manager, who coordinates seventy-five volunteers. These volunteers provide multiple services to hundreds of community members. Our rationale for the funds requested are to increase our staff hours and volunteer recruitment/management to accommodate the increased demand for our programs and to help us maintain high quality service.

o ACT on Alzheimer's (Working together to make Ely become a dementia-friendly community)
o Evaluate caregivers, care receivers, home environments, and social supports in order to develop a plan for education, referral and NP services
o Train volunteers: Background checks are performed on all volunteers. Initial and quarterly training of volunteers includes subjects of confidentiality, conflict-of-interest, conversations that matter, helping persons in transition, improving memory, and health care directives.
o Provide respite assistance to caregivers by providing free time, group support, and education
o Provide friendly visits in the home and telephone calls by volunteers These activities allow for social contact, reassurance, and support from the extended community and provide opportunities to check on the home environment and on compliance with taking medications.
o Provide transportation that is not available through other services -- long-distance rides for medical appointments and local rides for appointments, meetings, errands, and social events
o Provide customized exercise programs (Exercise Buddy) for individuals and groups
o Serve as a support program in partnership with Essentia Health-St Mary's Hospice and Palliative Care East Range Team and with the Ely Community Care Team
o Work with the staffs of Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, the Boundary Waters Care Center, and local assisted-living and memory-care homes
o Serve as a source of information and referral regarding resources for the care and needs of the elderly and those with memory impairment and their caregivers
o Provide educational and informative events such as our annual Healthy Aging Expo and sponsor workshops conducted by the Alzheimer's Association and Legal Aide of Minnesota
o Participate in research that will benefit the larger community and enhance the skills of our staff and the care of our local clients
o Continue to develop creative programming and new collaborations locally and nationally that promise to make a significant impact on clients' lives
o Provide Memories & Movement classes: Memories & Movement is a weekly class for seniors to share social time that is combined with exercises designed to improve balance, strength, and independence.
o Continuing Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health (REACH) program, which is an evidence-based caregiver consultation service
o Work with Essentia Health with the STRIDE program (Strategy to Reduce Injuries by Developing confidence in Elders)
o Provide Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance (TJQMBB) classes: TJQMBB is an evidence-based balance training regimen designed for older adults and people with balance disorders.

Northwoods Partners is always seeking friendly, caring volunteers to help with serving our community, as volunteers are invaluable to our organization. Northwoods Partners has recruited, trained and coordinated 80+ volunteers. Volunteers, staff, committee and board members provided 9,939 hours serving area seniors and caregivers. 429 individuals received one or more of our services in 2021. These services included friendly visits, transportation, customized exercise programs, phone calls, caregiver relief and also additional services like running errands, grocery shopping and recycling.

- One hundred and seventy individuals increased their physical activity and improved their balance. Pre and post evaluations as well as surveys reported reduced falls and improved physical and mental well-being.
- Five hundred and ninety rides were provided to medical appointments, errands, and social outings. Over 90% of participants who returned surveys reported this service helped them remain independent, reduced isolation and improved their health. Volunteers who reported drove 43,768 miles last year.
-Seven hundred and thirty-nine one-hour exercise sessions were provided to individuals in their homes. Pre and post evaluations showed improved balance, reduced falls and improved well-being.
-Over 70 caregivers received support to reduce stress and improved quality of life for themselves and the loved ones they care for. Annual surveys show caregivers are more equipped to deal with their caregiver role, stress is reduced and they are able to care for their loved homes at home for a greater length of time.
-Almost five hundred individuals participated in one or more of Northwoods Partners services last year. Close to 10,000 hours of time was dedicated to NP's clients and services. Volunteers and staff provided 7,793 hours of service to these individuals. NP's board of directors and committees provided 2,146 hours of service to NP. Many clients received education, resources and referrals to improve their health and well-being. All of these services promote independence and healthy aging.
-Northwoods Partners has a large network of care providers and organizations in which it works collaboratively in the continuum of care for its community members.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback



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


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

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

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 01/25/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Walt Leino

No affiliation

Term: 2023 - 2023

Walt Leino

No affiliation

Rae Bentz

Defenbaugh Law

Richard Flesvig

No affiliation

Dave Nichols

Heather Fitzgerald

Boundary Waters Bank

Sheila Gruba

Pat Rolando

Craig Haberman

Ely United Methodist Church

Sid Thomson

Leah Hiller

Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital

Caroline Owens

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? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • 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? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/25/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/08/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.