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'Coffee with Jamie'

Jamie Harthan (left) and Aaron Kussatz (center) talk with April (right), a consumer at the Lake County DAC while his daughters Ava and Juliana color. Kussatz stopped by the DAC for the new weekly "Coffee with Jamie" meetings that aim to build awareness of and bring new volunteers into the DAC. (News-Chronicle photo by Jamey Malcomb)

Wednesday morning at the Lake County Day Activity Center, Jamie Harthan and Aaron Kussatz are chatting about Kussatz's experience volunteering in the community and the potential ways he could help out around the DAC in the coming weeks and months.

The meeting is a new initiative at the DAC called "Coffee with Jamie" that hopes to build awareness of the center and bring in more volunteers to work with participants, also called consumers, in a number of different ways, including reading, crafts and other activities at the center. The DAC is a private, nonprofit licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to provide day services and day training and habilitation for developmentally disabled adults.

"It's a reason for people to come in here without any obligation," Harthan said. "They get to come in and talk about what they would like to do as a volunteer or say these are there concerns about being obligated to do anything. They get to come and check out the DAC, see what we do here and see if it's a good fit for them and check it out. They don't have to come back if they don't want to."

The DAC isn't in desperate need of more volunteers, but the organization's new building in Two Harbors has more room and, by extension, more opportunities for volunteers to work directly with consumers. The center moved from a building in Knife River into the former Two Harbors Federal Credit Union in downtown Two Harbors in September. The center had outgrown the space in Knife River and the former credit union offered the group a chance to double its space and move to a more centrally located building in Lake County.

"We have more space and that's why we have to room to bring in more volunteers and more activities," Harthan said. "We're not really looking for anything in particular when it comes to our volunteers, we're more about the people and the volunteers themselves, their personalities and what they bring to the table and what they like to do."

The new building has about double the space the DAC had in Knife River and offers volunteers more opportunities to work one-on-one with consumers and rooms for reading or other quiet activities while others work on making rugs, shredding paper or other group activities.

Harthan started as the DAC's volunteer coordinator after the September move to Two Harbors, but she has a much more personal connection to the center. Her son has autism spectrum disorder and one day he too could be a consumer at the DAC. The hope is to improve and sustain the programs at the DAC with more volunteers and continue the center's 45-year history for many more to come.

Coffee with Jamie begins at 10 a.m. every Wednesday at the Lake County DAC, 626 Second Ave., Two Harbors. For more information, contact Harthan at (218) 834-5767 or or visit the DAC website at

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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