Living Well Disability Services is proud to announce that Akoele Danklou, Personal Advocate at our Mary Adele Home, has been named a 2016 ‘ARRM Cares Direct Support Professional Award’ winner!

Akoele began her career with our organization six years ago. What began as an asleep overnight position out of necessity for an extra job grew into the role of Personal Advocate out of her desire to bring change into people’s lives.

Richard H. lived in the home where Akoele began her work with Living Well Disability Services. Richard did not warm up to people easily; the wall he built around himself often kept others at a distance. Akoele’s calm presence penetrated that wall, and eventually broke through it. In 2015, Akoele realized she had developed a strong bond with Richard. As a result, she asked to become his Personal Advocate. Over the past year, the connection between Akoele and Richard has brought changes into Richard’s life that no one thought possible.

It was difficult for Richard to find comfort outside of his home, and this created feelings of isolation; isolation that limited his participation in the vast and enriching experiences available in his community and surrounding areas. Akoele’s amazing patience and calmness allowed her to approach Richard and help him begin to expand his opportunities. Capitalizing on his interests in his own home and understanding what would allow him to be willing to participate in other experiences, Richard and Akoele began to venture outside of home. Akoele introduced Richard to the aquarium, the zoo, and shopping during non-busy times. Each success increased Richard’s desire to experience more. Within nine months, he was participating in a self-advocacy group and taking trips around the Mall of America.

Akoele’s overwhelmingly positive effect on lives does not stop with Richard. Her greatest strength, understanding the importance of environment in the lives of the people in her home, had a profound effect on Richard and increased his quality of life; it also provided his five housemates with a home that is warm, welcoming, and safe – a place they are proud to call home. Akoele pays attention to the smallest details; she maintains the dignity and respect of home and personal belongings that every person deserves. She continues to work some overnight shifts, assuring people wake up to welcome each new day with a clean home and, at times, the smell of breakfast; she also works daylight hours where she is able to facilitate the inclusion of people into their own lives and communities.

Akoele’s outstanding work as a Direct Support Professional has only just begun, yet, she has already taken the Living Well Disability Services mission of delivering exceptional services that transform the lives of people impacted by disabilities to heart and has made a difference that has changed peoples’ lives forever. We are eager to see what the future holds for our esteemed Living Well Disability Services colleague.

Inspired by Akoele’s exceptional story? You or someone you know can become a Personal Advocate at Living Well Disability Services. Personal Advocates are Direct Support Professionals responsible for providing active treatment and personal care to people with disabilities, supporting people in pursuing their preferences and dreams, and maintaining a safe, clean and comfortable living environment. Employment opportunities are available – click here: to learn more and apply today.