New director has a big heart for nonprofit, community
Chelsea Fiedler grew up in River Falls. Now she is hoping to give back to the community through her new job as executive director of Have a Heart, Inc.
"What I'm looking to do is have more community involvement," she said. "Make sure that the community knows we're here, that we're looking to help, that we're looking to better the River Falls community, in our own way."
Her mission is to add services that will better the lives of River Falls and St. Croix Valley area residents.
HAH is a nonprofit organization that serves children and adults with special needs in the River Falls and St. Croix Valley area, including some clients from eastern Minnesota.
HAH has a day program for 10-15 adult clients. Fiedler said the facility is open five days a week to care for adults with disabilities who need individualized care. At the end of the week, the focus shifts to respite care for children and adults on alternating weekends. Clients spend 48 hours away from their loved ones, being cared for by trained staff in a "homey environment," while their parents and guardians get a break from the constant 24/7 care required for their loved ones.
Have a Heart also has a four-bed adult family home which serves four male clients, who are acared for and supervised 24/7. They are in the process of planning to refurbish another building on the HAH property (located at W10356 State Road 29, River Falls) to house another four adults in the near future.
Fiedler is new to Have a Heart. She started in March.
"The best part of my job is knowing that I'm doing good," Fiedler said. "Knowing that I am working to better others' lives."
The best part of her job, she said, is the knowledge that she is making lives better for one population in society. One way to do that is to keep HAH afloat by holding annual fundraisers.
"We are changing up our yearly fundraiser," Fiedler said.
This year's fundraiser will switch from a summer wine tasting to a fall "fun fest" set for Oct. 14. The festival will include live music, a raffle, food, drinks and alcohol. The profits from the fundraiser will go to help pay for adaptive equipment to furnish HAH's new gym on the property, which will include areas for individuals with sensory processing disorders and motor deficits. These areas will be covered with soft pillows and swings of stretchy fabric for people who use wheelchairs and need to be close to the floor to feels safe, Fiedler said.
"It will have equipment in it that will be helpful to people with disabilities in order to get out their energy," Fiedler said.
There will also be areas where gym users can use weights and therabands.
HAH's goals include building a new adaptive outdoor playground, which will be completely wheelchair accessible.
"Not like your playground that you're used to seeing," Fiedler said. "You're going to see rubber matting and wheelchair swings and sensory outdoor activities."
Fiedler said the surface of the playground may be similar to the Tri-Angels playground at Hoffman Park, but the HAH playground will not have slides. It will have equipment like a "wheelchair merry-go-round" in which wheelchairs are secured and clients are spun around or moved back and forth as if on a seesaw.
Fiedler said the plan is to finish the gym within six months, and the playground within two years. Both will be on the HAH property and open to the public.
Fiedler said Have a Heart is hoping to expand its volunteer base as well. Volunteers could do tasks such as cleaning, painting, supervising clients on the playground or gymnasium, helping with fundraisers, helping care for the gardens and more.
Anyone interested in volunteering can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HAH is hoping to save "the beautiful barn" on the property and refurbishing it to be used for fundraisers and other events, Fiedler said.
Two HAH board members, who are also parents of clients, are looking to start a support group for families of people with special needs. The meetings will be held at HAH at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. HAH will also be looking for additional board members in the near future.
For more information, visit www.haveaheartinc.org.