It’s that time of year again, the season to celebrate our long-term staff! In a world of job hopping and a gig economy, employees who stick around are almost unheard of these days. It is not the norm in the contemporary workforce, but thankfully it feels like it over here at Living Well!
Every October we celebrate our legacy staff with an employee recognition celebration. Staff who have been employed for five or more years are invited, and those who have reached milestone anniversaries are celebrated. While it would surely take more words than exist to thank them properly, we wanted to take the time to honor them and let them know how much they are appreciated. They mean the world to the people we serve, their families, and the overall health of the Living Well mission.
Yesterday we took time to recognize and celebrate this incredible group who have all been committed to our mission since their first day on the job. This group of 215 employees have combined to provide a staggering 3,182 years of care and connection to those we serve. Additionally, we had the honor of recognizing special employment milestones for 51 remarkable employees who collectively have 785 years of service. These include: 20 employees who have reached 5-year service milestones, 11 who have reached 10 years five who have 15 years, one who has 20 years, four who have reached 25 years, three who have reached 30, one who has reached 35 years, and three who are celebrating a 40-year anniversary. We are especially grateful and proud to recognize three remarkable employees with 45 years of service at Living Well Disability Services! This is quite a milestone, indeed.
We are beyond grateful for the beautiful staff who have dedicated their careers to caring for people with disabilities and assisting their families along the way as well. In addition to milestones relating to time at Living Well, we also celebrated the employees who were nominated for industry awards. ARRM Cares Award nominees were Alexis Santana (Carmen), Annette Ripley (Westchester), Brace Gotshalk (Star Lane), Freya Gayken (Selkirk), Magha Penn (Schletty), Maya Seimavula (3807), Rachel Otten (Powell) and Ruth Bingham (Customized). Congrats to Annette who WON! The Anchor DSP of the Year nominee was Katelyn Fairhurst (East Emerson).
And last, but certainly not least, we celebrated the extraordinary efforts of the following employees who were recognized this year by the American Red Cross for using their life-saving skills and physically intervened (back blows/abdominal thrusts) in choking incidents. Big love to Jenni Zeis at Carmen and Kemi Abiodun at Edgewood. They literally SAVED LIVES on the job—we cannot imagine a better feeling than knowing you were integral in keeping someone safe.
Colleen Mutzabaugh, Support Director, celebrated 40 years, and had this to say about Living Well, “It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve made some of my very best friends working here.” Tenderly adding, “I grew into the person I was meant to be because of my experiences at Living Well.” Cindi Sharp, Program Manager at 3810, who also celebrated 40 years, had this to say when asked why she stays, “The people feel like family, and it’s hard to walk out on family.” Cindi went on to say, “What we do here is think outside the box, we make things happen for people without limitations. We find a way to make things happen, and that is worth the time and effort.”
Beth Tollefson, Senior Director of Program Services, has been with Living Well for 32 years, and says, “Our annual recognition event is one of my favorite days of work each year. It is such an honor to recognize our wonderful coworkers for the amazing work that they do every day. Their hands-on care and support are what brings our mission into action. We can’t celebrate that enough. The event allows us to reconnect with coworkers that we don’t get to see every day and take a moment to pause and reflect with immense gratitude on the important work we do. The recognition committee once again put together a fabulous event that was enjoyed by many employees.”
Joey Pederson, this week’s DSP of the week, with 27 years on the job, told us when checking in, “It’s the people that keep me here. I have been here a long time and know a lot of people.Living Well does things differently, and always has. They were ahead of the game in person centered training, and I appreciate the creativity. They get it.”
Danielle Anderson, Direct Support Professional, a newbie compared to Colleen, Cindi, Beth and Joey, clocking in at six years, tells us, “I enjoy working with Living Well Disability Services because they provide the necessary and appropriate care for people in an outstanding way by going above and beyond. Even with the small things! Living Well is dedicated and committed to providing exceptional care for the health and the well-being of their people.” She adds, “I have experienced a sense of comfort and family in a true home environment. The people I support seem to have some sense of comfort as well, knowing that we are there for them and to provide them with safety and comfort. I’ve truly enjoyed working as a direct support professional at Casey Court.”
With gratitude to all who choose to work for Living Well, and all care organizations, thank you! It was a total joy to honor so many at the party!
Here is the full list of milestone celebrants:
5 Years: Tomika Angus, Larose Arnold, Anthony Bretzman, Trey Chukwuma, Jackeline Gaines, Rachel Gardner, Esther Giple, Michael Hedin, Sara Hemmer, Jennifer Johnson, Suzanne Keppers, Becky Linder, Abdulai Mbimdzemoa, Dolphine Momanyi, Angela Olson, Jane Ongaki, Dillon Orth, Wualquiria Salovich, Nancy Schmidt, Thomas Zettell
10 Years: Sunday Adeyemo, Owen Bell, Nancy Elfering, Yetunde Falade, Jonathan Gray, Kari Klejeski, Stacy Roberts, Rachel Otten, Lyndsey Thomas, Veronica Tristan, Sunday Yengi
15 Years: Elizabeth Bryan, Edmond Ewing III, Jocelyn Jeffrey, Adetunji Oshodi, Martha Sieh
20 Years: Janice Erickson
25 Years: Heidi Casey, Adolphus Kesseh, Arinola Martins, Maia Xiong
30 Years: Alexia Buslee, Mary Larson, Denise Staton
35 Years: David Kucera
40 Years: Colleen Mutzabaugh, Louise Pieper, Cindi Sharp
45 Years: LuAnn Neumann, Donna Sanderson, Ann Vandeberg