Connections that Enhance Dignity and Independence

Everyone has a phone, right?

Although it seems like everyone has a phone or access to one, that’s not the case. In 1994, Twin Cities Community Voice Mail was founded so that people in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and beyond could have free access to voice mail that would lead to increased self-sufficiency.

Today, under the new name of Open Access Connections, we have expanded beyond the Twin Cities to serve all Minnesota and our focus has expanded beyond simply voice mail. Our commitment to and involvement with empowering participants has grown. More than ever, we are a partner who helps participants create a future through self-determination. Our use of communications and technology connects participants to the larger community, acts as a catalyst for bringing them into the mainstream, and focuses their power and strength as tools for social change.

Organizational Structure

As the second oldest and the largest community voice mail program in the United States, Open Access Connections is led by a board of directors that encompasses a cross-section of the Minnesota population, including those with personal experience in homelessness, unemployment and/or domestic abuse, as well as social services and business.

Staff members include Marcy Shapiro, Executive Director; Harriette Darrough, Training Specialist; Terri Uravich, System Specialist; Ed Petsche, Community Organizer and Outreach Specialist; Mark Erpelding, Cell Phone and Outreach Projects Consultant; and Matt McLaughlin, Central Minnesota Outreach VISTA Coordinator. Our partners include 350 social service agencies and government programs across the Twin Cities and around the state.

In 2009, we celebrated 15 years of service to more than 53,000 participants! Thank you to all of our generous agency partners and donors (individuals and organizations) who continue to fuel our success every year.

Whom Does Open Access Connections Serve*?
* Participants served since March 1994

Other Characteristics

  • 16% are disabled
  • 6% are veterans
  • 77% are unemployed
  • 66% are homeless

Find Shelter Now: Open Access Connections Metro Shelter Hotline
Need a place to sleep tonight? Know someone who does? Call the toll-free Open Access Connections Metro Shelter Hotline at 1-888-234-1329. It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline provides information about emergency shelter and transitional housing for single adults, families and youth in the seven-country Twin Cities Metro Area.