The Power of Gratitude

12 Steps to Thrive

(Infographic attributed to

Posted in Current Topics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Measuring Health in Recovery

Brain speed, balance, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, upper and lower body strength, and body fat percentage. These are the seven parameters that are used to assess Vinland’s clients’ health.


Vinland Fitness and Wellness Manager Jeff Willert studies how these parameters change from when clients first arrive to when they leave Vinland.

“It gives them a perception of their physical capabilities,” Willert said. “We see changes in every parameter and how their pain levels change between 0 and 10.”

Willert has collected data since 2008. This data shows objectively how clients are doing.

“When they see the change from where they started their eyes light up,” he said. “They are getting addicted to something healthy.”

His study shows in numbers how each client changes in regards to balance, body strength and more. But the numbers say far more than that, said Willert.

“Results tell them if they work harder; and show them if they consistently and diligently go to all their groups they will feel better,” he said. “You see results and you have a better chance to remain sober.”

For Willert and staff, studying the numbers is a way to hone in on ways to best help the clients. If they see less success happening in an area like balance then they can find ways to help bring those up.

“For balance testing we brought in the Bosu system and decided to introduce that and a wobble board,” Willert said.


Bosu (pictured here) are commonly seen at gyms and workout facilities  as an inflated cushion attached to a flat, round board. Clients work on balance by standing on the inflated cushion for up to two minutes.

A main challenge is helping clients fight through resistance or apathy. Willert said motivation is rarely a problem.

“Many come to us in very, very poor health,” Willert said. “But after a few weeks I often hear ‘this isn’t so bad and I feel better.’ They want to start writing the next chapter of their book.”

Willert has a 7 a.m. bonus class that is non-mandatory during the week. He has seen more and more clients attending it.

“That tells me there are self-starters here, they have motivation,” he said.

His hope is that exercise continues to be a big part of clients’ lives after they leave Vinland. In fact, he hopes it gives them something productive to do when work or daily living doesn’t.

Looking at the Numbers

The study can be broken down in many different ways, but the most important numbers to look at are the percent of change, which measures each category for male and female clients on how things changed from when they come to Vinland to when they leave.

There are two sides to the study, physical attributes and more mental or subjective attributes, that Willert said are most important when looking at how clients change.

The four physical categories include: percent of body fat; leg press (measured by pounds lifted); balance (measured by seconds able to balance); and hand grip, which represents upper body strength.

The mental or more subjective categories include: a client’s pain level; their brain speed (also called “peg board”); and “physical capacity,” which specifically shows how a client perceives their progress.

For men, percent of body fat went down 6 percent. They were able to lift 98 percent more weight on the leg press by the time they left Vinland and their balance increased by 14 seconds.  And their hand grip measured for upper body strength improved by 13 more pounds lifted.

For women, percent of body fat decreased by 5 percent. They were able to bench 34 percent more on the leg press when they left and increased balance time by 30 more seconds. Also, women’s upper body strength improved by 16 more pounds with the hand grip.


Vinland male clients reported a 27 percent decrease in their pain levels from when they first arrived and perceived that their physical capacity had increased by 33 percent.

Vinland female clients reported a 46 percent decrease in their pain levels and a 50 percent increase in their perceived physical capacity or what they felt they were capable of handling physically.

For all clients brain speed increased by 14 percent while at Vinland.

Posted in Vinland News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Thank You for Your Support on Give to the Max Day!


Thank you to everyone who made a donation to Vinland Center on Give to the Max Day!

Thanks to your generous support, we raised $3,523!

More than $18 million was raised for Minnesota’s non-profits yesterday, thanks to you.

Your Donations in Action

Last year, 89¢ of every $1 donated to Vinland went directly to providing services to our clients. Your donations fund our core programs and several complementary care programs.

For more information about how your donations make a difference at Vinland, click here.

As always, your donation to Vinland Center is tax-deductible.

Posted in Vinland News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Give to the Max Day is Here!


Give to the Max Day is here! Donate now!

Share Our Message

This year we have a short video promoting Vinland and its many complementary services. The video is to help show others why to donate to Vinland. We hope you can share this video to let people know about supporting our services.

»Donate now!«

Golden Tickets

In addition, every gift made to Vinland Center on increases our chances of winning a $1,000 Golden Ticket – an hourly drawing that adds $1,000 to a person’s donation, randomly selected from donors who gave during each hour today. Last year at the end of Give to the Max Day, one donation from across Minnesota was randomly selected for a $10,000 Super-sized Golden Ticket. This year an additional $10,000 ticket will be given to a donation made. The more gifts we receive, the more chances we have to receive those magical Golden Tickets!

»Donate now!«

Why Donations Matter

By donating to Vinland you can make a difference in the lives of adults with disabilities. In 2013, 89¢ of every $1 donated to Vinland went directly to providing services to our clients. Donations from supporters allow Vinland to provide excellent beneficial services to clients. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), every $1 spent on treatment saves society $7 from reduced health care costs, reduced crime, and increased productivity. Graduates of our program have reduced medical and legal expenses, and increased employment earnings.

Thank you for your support this Give to the Max Day! Click here to donate now!

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Give to the Max Day is November 12


Give to the Max Day has become an annual tradition in Minnesota! For 24 hours, people donate to Minnesota non-profits on Last year, 62,000 people donated $18 million in 24 hours on Give to the Max Day.

Support Vinland on November 12
Last year, thanks to your support, Vinland raised more than $10,000 on Give to the Max Day. Let’s raise even more this year!

Donations help to fund the many complementary care services Vinland provides to its clients. These are beneficial services that are not reimbursed by insurance. Complementary care services include therapeutic exercise, adapted mindfulness meditation, music therapy, adapted yoga, and outdoor recreation. As always, your donation to Vinland Center is tax-deductible.

Add $1,000
Your donation on Give to the Max Day could also have an additional $1,000 added to it. How? On November 12, every donation made on will be entered into an hourly drawing for a $1,000 GiveMN Golden Ticket. For the donation that is selected, an additional $1,000 will be added to the original donation. That adds up to 24 opportunities for you to help us receive an extra $1,000!

Add $10,000 (Twice)
At the end of Give to the Max Day, two donations from across Minnesota will be randomly selected for a $10,000 Super-Sized Golden Ticket! The more gifts we receive online on November 12, the more chances we have to receive one of the two magical Super-Sized Golden Tickets!

Mark Your Calendar
On November 12, visit and make a donation to Vinland Center!

Posted in Events, Vinland News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Meet Our Intern Amy Traub

Amy Traub is a chemical health intern at Vinland’s Outpatient Service Center in Minneapolis. She is in the graduate addiction studies program at the University of Minnesota. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She has finished all courses except the internship seminar class, which she is taking during her current internship.


Why are you interested in your field of study?

I am interested in this field because I think there are so many misconceptions regarding addiction and mental heath and would like to work to change that. I also feel a sense to do what I can to make a positive difference for people in their lives where I can and to help empower others.

Why were you interested in an internship at Vinland?

When I came in for my interview I wasn’t sure what to expect. By then end, after talking for a while with Annette and meeting the staff and a few clients, I just had a feeling this was the place for me.  I had this feeling because of the holistic view of the clients and the genuine want to help clients better their lives. And I’m happy to say I still feel that way.

What are your goals after graduation?

At this point, my goal is to become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) and find a job.

What has been one of your most challenging moments in life? How did you overcome that challenge?

I can’t say that I’ve had any extremely challenging moments thus far. A big transition for me was graduating college, leaving Eau Claire, and moving back in with my parents. I just did not feeling like I was doing anything with my life. It was difficult being hours away from my closest friends and feeling less independent. It was hard looking at some of my peers who seemingly had “everything” figured out. I took some time to pull myself out of the mindset that everyone is different and that things would come into place. From this, I found out that my parents are some of the best support I have and that whatever I am feeling or going through, they have had similar experiences. And that’s been a comfort.

How do you relax or de-stress?

One of my favorite ways to de-stress is to go on a drive, but that’s harder to do now that I live in St. Paul. Another way is to get some fresh air or find a quiet place to refocus.

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you meet and why?

I would like to meet Lena Dunham because she seems to have such a strong voice for what she believes in and uses her creative abilities to bring to light difficult topics and opinions in a way that highlights their complexity. She seems like someone who would be fun to spend time with.

What song best describes your life?

“Give a Little Bit” by the Goo Goo Dolls

What is your favorite season in Minnesota and why?

My favorite season in Minnesota is the fall. I love seeing the leaves change and when the air gets crisp and cool.

If you could meet the President of the U.S. what would be the one question you would ask him?

I would ask him what he will miss the most and least about being president.

What is your favorite hobby or what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to spend time outside, take pictures and enjoy trying to make things, whether its food or other creative things.

Posted in Vinland News | Tagged | Leave a comment

Vinland Memorial Garden for Duane Reynolds

Gardening was a big part of Duane Reynolds life and so was his work at Vinland.

When the long-time associate director suddenly passed away in the spring of 2015, Vinland’s community was hit hard.

“Right away I knew we needed to have a garden for him,” said Vinland Gardener and Housekeeper Colleen Elvecrog. “Duane worked here 18 years. He was a mentor and friend to everybody.”


Elvecrog came up with the design of a memorial garden including what to plant and how to arrange it. She recognizes the help of Carl’s Landscaping in Plymouth which helped with edging, putting in mulch, and putting in the retaining wall and stepping stones.

“The centerpiece is a smoked bush which is pink like cotton candy,” Elvecrog said. “Two years ago I saw that at a golf course I worked at and asked Duane about it who said he had it in his own yard at home.”

A bench swing sits within the memorial garden area in memory of Reynolds. A laminated picture of Reynolds resides in the earth beneath the bench.


“Duane loved Disney cruises so we put some Disney themed mementos out there too,” she said.

The mementos include a Mickey Mouse solar light and Mickey and Minnie on a little swing.

There is also a fishing themed wind chime recognizing Reynolds’ love for fishing as well as a bird house with a Vikings theme to honor his love for the football team.


Elvecrog would like to add a natural stone plaque so people know what the garden is about in the future.

The memorial garden overlooks Lake Independence, right outside the cafeteria on the south side Vinland’s facility in Loretto.



Posted in Vinland News | Tagged , | 1 Comment