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Community Spotlight: Deaf Can, Incorporated

A conversation with Herman Fuechtmann, CPRP and Kathryn Rose, BA, LADC, CPRP

9/16/2020 11:10:42 AM

Headshots for Kathryn and Herman, and the words

Deaf Can's mission is to assist, mentor, and support Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind individuals who experience chemical dependency and/or mental illness by offering community-based rehabilitation services. Herman and Kathryn were interviewed by Kaitlyn Mielke.

Please give us an overview of what Deaf Can does. How did the program begin?

Prior to founding Deaf Can, while working with deaf people with mental illness, the founders noticed that treatment approaches used at that time focused only on the client’s mental health and ignored or did not address factors or issues with substance use. The non-profit 501c3 organization was founded in 2012 to address this critical gap in services for deaf adults living in Twin Cities who experience mental illness and substance use. 

What are the goals of the program?

Our mission is to assist, mentor, and support Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind individuals who experience chemical dependency and/or mental illness by offering community-based rehabilitation services.

What services and/or projects does the program provide?

The two main projects are Deaf Outreach Services and Deaf Living Sober. 

Deaf Outreach Services (DOS) provides Independent Living Skills training to Deaf/Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind adults who experience challenges in daily living. Our specialties include mental health and chemical health. We are currently serving people living in the Twin Cities metro area. We operate under a state license for 245D.

Deaf Living Sober (DLS) provides sober coaching and recovery support services to deaf adults who experience Substance Use issues or undesirable behaviors from addictions. We provide a safe environment and teach people the skills necessary to live, work, and socialize in the sober community. 

How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your outreach services/projects?

The pandemic has negatively affected the people we work with. Their mental health status has worsened and their ability to cope with anxieties and stress is being challenged. We had to modify our service delivery approach to doing the work through teleconferencing methods and online rather than working directly in-person with people. Requests and demand for support has increased during the past few months. Deaf Can staff is adapting by being more creative with their interactions and making themselves more available for recovery support.

How has the closing and merger of the D/HH Chemical Dependency program at Fairview impacted your organization?

The closure of the Fairview Chemical Dependency has been difficult to measure. Most of their referrals originated in other states. The Minnesota data for referrals is inconclusive. Deaf Can is working with the Fairview Lodging Plus Program as an aftercare support but has seen no aftercare referrals. This is an area we are planning to explore with a newly hired staff who will be connecting with providers in the deaf community to offer supports. 

Tell us about the FAR group and what activities have been provided in the past?

Fun ASL Recovery (FAR Club) is an addiction recovery support group made up of deaf and hearing people who communicate using ASL and may be experiencing one of the various types of addictions. The group meets once a week to share stories and tips on how to manage their addictions. Then they participate in social games and activities to develop skills for healthy social and interpersonal relationships and for long-term recovery. Past events include board and card games, movie night about addictions, bowling outings, group walks in the park, Addictions that attendees may have include alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, opioids, gambling, sexual, and food disorders. 

I see that one of your staff is a therapy dog named Daysie - please tell us more about what Daysie does.

Daysie was a service dog for one of the staff and she passed away last October 2019. Her use was companionship for people in recovery and was licensed through TDI (Therapy Dogs International) There are no plans at this time to replace her. We are, of course, keeping an open heart about the position. 

How can folks volunteer with Deaf Can? What volunteer opportunities are available?  

Recovery group meetings are voluntary and run by members. Members who want to recover from addictions and have been attending recovery groups could get additional training to become sober coaches. The general community can volunteer and help out at social events like a picnic hosted by the FAR Club. 

How can interested individuals contact you for services and/or projects?

Interested individuals can contact Herman at or Kathryn at Visit the Deaf Can website for additional information.

About Herman Fuechtmann

Born deaf of deaf parents and has two deaf daughters. Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner with 30 years’ experience in working with deaf adults who experience severe mental illness. USA Deaf Sports Federation board, 1998-2006. 5-time Deaflympian in two sports, Team Handball and Curling, most recently 2019 Madesimo Italy. Currently the president of Board of Trustees at Charles Thompson Memorial Hall (deaf clubhouse in St. Paul, MN). 

About Kathryn Rose 

Currently working for the State of MN as a LADC Supervisor at C.A.R.E. (Community Addiction Recovery Enterprises) Fergus Falls, MN. BA Degree in Psychology with a focus on Deafness, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor from MN Board of Behavioral Health, 3 year Certificate in ASL Interpreting for Medical and Mental Health from the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul. Hard of Hearing and recently reappointed to the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) as the Northwest Regional Representative. I love to hike with my dogs, fishing, swimming and enjoying my family and friends.

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