Your Organization Can Help Save Lifeline!

April 4th, 2018


The FCC is still considering cuts to the federal Lifeline program, which provides free cell phones to many of our clients.

I wanted to share two letters that your organization can sign on to help save the federal LIfeline program.

One sign on letter is for organizations that represent veterans.  The link for your organization to sign on to can be found  here.

Another sign on letter is for organizations that represent seniors.  The link for your organization to sign on to can be found here.

The deadline to sign on to these letters is Friday April 13th.  We will keep you up to date on any news regarding the Lifeline program and the free cell phones they provide.

Please feel free to contact Executive Director Mark Erpelding at with any questions that you may have.

Give To The Max!

November 13th, 2017


What Is Give To The Max?
Give to the Max is the largest one day online fundraising event in Minnesota!

When Is It?
Thursday, November 16th.

Why Donate on Give To The Max Day?
You will help Open Access Connections advance our mission of providing free communication tools to our most vulnerable neighbors.  Your online donation will also increase the chance of receiving a Golden Ticket, which would give Open Access Connections an additional $1,000 or $10,000!  Also, thanks to a generous donation from the Frey Family Foundation, all new donations and returning donations increased by 10% will be matched!

Where do I donate?
Our Give To The Max Day Can be found here:

Can I schedule a donation!
Yes! All donations made now will be scheduled for Give To The Max Day!

Where could I find more information about your Give To The Max fundraising efforts?
Follow our Facebook page for updates about our programming and fundraising efforts on Give To The Max Day!


August 9th, 2017

Come join us for our 9th Annual Picnic & Walk at beautiful Minnehaha Park.

Walk 1

Clients, staff, board members, and partner agencies are all invited to celebrate our success.  In 2016 we provided free Community Voice Mail to 2,700 Minnesotans, registered 817 homeless and low-income people to vote, and distributed over 1,900 free Lifeline supported cell phones.

Come join us for a picnic lunch, leisurely 1.5 mile walk, door prizes, and outdoor games.

More information, including donation information, can be found on our official walk page.

You can also RSVP on our Facebook page.  

How is our voicemail helpful to you?

March 6th, 2015

Recently, Open Access Connections sent out a broadcast message asking individuals on our community voicemail to share how having a voicemail number has been a useful communication tool. Here is a response from a Cheryl Kenney who relies on her voicemail for basic communication:


“Yes, hello I would like to say that I’ve benefited greatly from this service-this voicemail. And it has helped to stay in touch with people in emergency situations and with family and friends and it has helped me in obtaining employment. It has helped me in keeping track of appointments and many different things. And I really do appreciate this. I have a cell phone, but I have a limited number of minutes per month and I have to share this phone with another person. So having a place where people can just leave me a message to get in touch with me and to let me know of things that are important that are coming up is very useful to me. And I’d like to see this program continue. I’m sure it helps a lot of other people the way it has helped me. And I thank you for your time. Have a good day.”

You can listen to Cheryl’s response here:


If you would like to tell us how our voicemail services have been helpful to you, you may call us at 651.643.0883.

Section 8 Step-by-Step Guide

February 13th, 2015

The Metro HRA will be accepting online applications for the Housing Choice Waiting List from 8 am Tuesday, February 24 until noon Friday, February 27. The Metro HRA will place 2,000 applicants on the waiting list through a random drawing from all applications received in the 3 day open period. Sections 8 Housing program will be placed in any of the following metro area counties: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties.

Applications will not be available in the HRA office, and fax or email requests will not be accepted. You can use any computer, tablet, or smart phone with internet access to apply.

To get started, you will log into You will need to know your family members’ names, date of birth, and social security numbers to complete the application.  A home or cell phone number is required. You do not need an email address to complete the application; however you will need one if you are selected in the lottery. If you do not have an email address and would like to set one up, go to the other phone type tap, select email, and a free email account will pop up. If you select this, it will take you to gmail to set up a free email.

In the next section, you will need to enter your address information. You will enter the address of where you are currently living, as well as a space to enter an address where you currently receive mail if it is different from legal address.

You will also need to enter information for all household members that will live with you if you receive assistance.  The next area for completion is family income and assets. You will select the family member that has the income, enter in the amount, how often they receive the amount, and the computer will calculate it for you. Do the best you can as we will verify all this information when you are selected from the waiting list.

The next area is supplemental and optional contact information. Here the site will ask if you live, work, or go to school full time in the 7-county metro area. If you do, you will select yes. If you don’t, you will select no. You will also have the option to select ‘add contact’. This is if you would like the Metro HRA to contact someone in addition to yourself in regards to your housing assistance. If you do not want to have Metro HRA contact an additional person regarding your application status, check the box.

The last area to complete the certification: You will need to enter the head of household’s social security number, date of birth, and the email if one was provided. You are then going to hit the submit button. By hitting submit, you are certifying that the information you provided is true and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief. If you clicked submit and there are any errors or information that was not completed, you will be prompted to go back and complete the part of the application.

Once the application is accepted, an application receipt will pop up on your screen. You will want to keep this for your records as you need the application ID to check your status on the waiting list. You will have the option to hit print. It is very important that you keep the application ID and follow the instructions on the application receipt. This information will be needed to check your status on the waiting list.

If you need additional help, feel free to contact the Metro HRA at 651-602-1428.  For more information and to watch a Youtube video, visit

So long as you apply before noon on February 27, it does not matter when you submit your application. A phone number is required to submit the application. Applications must be completed online at

Applicants will be placed on a waiting list through a random drawing from all applications received in the 3 day open period.

Again, applications will only be accepted for THREE days. Online applications will be available from 8:00am on Tuesday, February 24 until 12:00 pm on Friday, February 27, 2015.  All applications are due by 12:00pm on Friday, February 27. Applications must be completed online at

Thank you and have a great day.

MFIP Increase: Response #1

February 2nd, 2015

Open Access Connections recently sent our a broadcast message to all of our community voice mail users across the state inquiring as to how $100 increase to MFIP would help their family. Sharon Neal was the first to respond to our broadcast. Click here to listen to her response.

Hi this is Sharon Neal. I would like to respond about the ‘what would $100 more mean to me’.  It would mean a lot! I would be able to pay all of my bills if I get $100 increase. Now with the bills being the way that they are and what I get for MFIP, I’m like a bill short. $100 would mean a lot. You can even use my name, Sharon Neal. If you want my address, just call me. I appreciate you all going to the capital giving your speech because Minnesota has not had a[n] [MFIP] increase in years so I do think $100 would mean a lot to a lot of people. Okay thank you. ”

Are you on MFIP? What would $100 more per month mean for your family? Open Access Connections, the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless and other organizations are advocating for a cash grant increase for MFIP families at the Capitol this year.
We’d love to hear your story!

Please share your thoughts how increasing MFIP will help your family. You can contact us at 651-643-0883. By sharing your story with us, you give permission to Open Access Connections, the MN Coalition for the Homeless and Prosperity for All campaign to share your experience with community stakeholders and state legislators. If you wish to remain anonymous, you do not have to share your name.

Have a great day.



Consumer Advisory Against Free Cell Phone Provider Access Wireless

September 29th, 2014

Open Access Connections would like to inform the public of a poor customer service incident regarding the free cell phone Lifeline provider Access Wireless.  Recently an Access Wireless customer was given a non-operational cell phone with a non-local Arizona area code.  When the customer called customer service to have these issues resolved, he was on hold for as long as three hours.  Open Access Connections has confirmed the long wait times for customer service, and are working with the customer to file a complaint against Access Wireless with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Until these issues are resolved, we recommend agencies not to refer clients to Access Wireless.  You can learn about other free cell phone providers at our Lifeline page.

Open Access Connections is also interested in other problems that customers may have had with Access Wireless.  If you are aware of any other incidents please contact Executive Director Mark Erpelding at 651-621-2494 or   We will work with Access Wireless clients in forwarding their complaints to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.


Thank you for making our walk such a success!

September 29th, 2014

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Open Access Connections would like to thank the volunteers, donors, and participants that made our 6th Annual Picnic Walk a success.  More than 80 people participated in the event, and more than 70 donors contributed more than $4,200 to support our work.

Thank you again, and we look forward to seeing you next year!


6th Annual Picnic and Walk, Saturday September 13!

September 9th, 2014

On Saturday September 13th, more than 100 people will come and celebrate the important work at Open Access Connections at beautiful Minnehaha Park.  We hope that you can join us for an afternoon of food, games, and camaraderie.

You can find more information about our walk, or sponsor one of walkers, at our official walk page!

Voice Mail Outreach now at St. Paul Midway WorkForce Center

May 15th, 2014

We are happy to announce that our Grassroots Voice Mail Outreach has been expanded to the St. Paul Midway WorkForce Center.

Trained outreach workers will be able to distribute our free voice mail services on Mondays between 1:30-3:30pm within the lobby of the St. Paul WorkForce Center.

For a full list of outreach locations and times, please visit our Grassroots Outreach page.