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Awards at the Minnesota Odyssey Conference

At the two-day Age & Disabilities Odyssey conference, the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Board on Aging recognizes organizations and people who have made significant differences in the lives of people who are aging or who have disabilities.

Past Award Recipients

The Odyssey conference has recognized over 40 individuals and organizations since 2005.

2019 Odyssey Award winners

At the 2019 Age & Disabilities Odyssey, we celebrated one exceptional individual and three outstanding organizations. Each clearly has a passion for the communities they serve, and a true example of the outstanding work happening daily in Minnesota to make a difference in the lives of older adults and persons with disabilities.

Click each of the award winners' names below to view a short video about their great work.

Raj Chaudhary

Founder and Chief Operating Officer of SEWA-AIFW (Asian Indian Family Wellness)

Raj Chaudhary is a visionary leader within the South Asian Indian community in Minnesota. In 2004, Raj started SEWA-AIFW with the goal of bringing total family wellness to the community. Over the last fifteen years SEWA-AIFW has developed programs to empower the community to be healthy and violence-free and that support elders to live with dignity and respect. They have worked to address the immediate needs of families in crisis and provide outreach services to the underserved. Under Raj’s leadership SEWA-AIFW has promoted research to determine the services needed, built bridges between the government, private foundations and communities and created a group of trained volunteers sensitive to the ethnic and cultural needs of the Minnesota’s Asian-Indian community.

AGE to age

Intergenerational program of the Northland Foundation

The Northland Foundation serves the seven-county Arrowhead Region of northeastern Minnesota and has done long-term, outstanding work in rural communities that experience high poverty rates. Their AGE to age program uses an innovative engagement model of older adults and youth working together to develop programs to better their communities. In the past 11 years, AGE to age has spawned more than 1,000 community programs ranging from farmer’s markets to technology education, which has enriched the lives of countless individuals. Northland has used research and best practices to support and grow AGE to age, which now serves 15 rural communities and three tribal nations.

Centers for Excellence in Supported Decision Making

Volunteers of America Minnesota and Wisconsin

The Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making is engaged in groundbreaking work to shift Minnesota away from “one-size fits all” reliance on court-appointed guardianships to one that promotes supported decision-making. Supported decision making is an approach where the person makes their own decisions and uses a trusted team to gather information, advice, and help. To implement this new approach, the Center brought together a multi-disciplinary coalition of professionals, a persons with disabilities and their supporters, and also educated and trained thousands. Its work continues to fundamentally change perceptions about when guardianship is truly needed and promote person-centered decision-making practices in Minnesota. 

Homeless ACCESS team

Hennepin County

The Hennepin County Homeless ACCESS team works collaboratively with the non-profit agencies that run the single adult shelters in Hennepin County. Together, the ACCESS team, helps with getting the person to the best shelter, and also with breaking down housing barriers to find secure housing and move in. Persons served by this team have a mental health condition and have experienced trauma. The ACCESS team employs best practices such as long-term engagement and person-centered care to earn the person's trust, discover the person’s housing goals and help navigate the journey to securing housing that address the person’s complex needs.

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