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Minnesota Groups Honored for Improving Lives

The Arts Center of St. Peter teaches art to people who are patients at a psychiatric hospital. (Arts Center of St. Peter)
The Arts Center of St. Peter teaches art to people who are patients at a psychiatric hospital. (Arts Center of St. Peter)
December 23, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Some of Minnesota's human-service groups and agencies have received a holiday present of sorts. This month, seven have been selected to receive the 2016 Commissioner's Circle of Excellence Awards from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Emily Piper, state commissioner of human services, said these are groups that help support healthy people, stable families and strong communities. Among this year's winners is the White Earth MOMS program, which works with pregnant and parenting women and their partners to reduce the number of babies born with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome.

"Really impressive work and very culturally targeted," Piper said, "which has demonstrated time and time again in human services to be the most effective way to provide services, particularly to Native Americans in Minnesota."

Other groups honored this year include the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Human Services Division, Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, the Korean Center, Morrison County's Accountable Community for Health, the Food Group and The Arts Center of St. Peter.

Piper said the Arts Center of St. Peter is is a unique program that provides art-therapy classes to people with mental illnesses at Minnesota Security Hospital. This year, an art show was held with more than 200 works created by the patients on display.

"The therapeutic components of art, and working to break down stigma for our patients, has been a wonderful healing process for them as they move through their journey," Piper said.

Many of the groups that are honored each year, she said, may not otherwise be publicly recognized for the work they do to help people on a daily basis.

More information is online at

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN