At the Transforming Lives Gala on August 18, we will showcase the annual Dreammaker Award winners. The winners will be celebrated for their hard work building awareness for the disability community and using their voices as a platform for advocacy. In the past we waited until the gala to announce the winners but last year decided to give a preliminary introduction to each winner in the weeks leading up to the event. Today we are happy to introduce Peggy Mehen.

Celebrating her birthday at Northland, with lots of cheetah!

Peggy lives at 3801 and has quite a legacy at Living Well. She was one of the original members of our STARS Self Advocacy Group and has training and experience in advocating for what she believes in and helping others to do the same. She volunteers every Wednesday at the Northland office helping the Development team with fundraising, gala and volunteering projects, including writing handwritten thank you notes to volunteers and donors. Peggy is incredibly thoughtful and often checks in on Northland Staff about current events that happen in their lives. Don’t be surprised if you find many staff wearing cheetah print, a Peggy staple and favorite, when she is in office. Peggy’s nomination this year is particularly special as she is the artist who designed the artwork featured throughout the gala materials. When you meet Peggy, you remember Peggy, she is a force.

Peggy with her beloved sisters, Teri and Fran.

When asked about the award, Peggy told us she has been an advocate since before she moved here from New York. Peggy says, “I get that from my parents. They taught me values, to stand up for myself, to speak out, to have confidence, and to be in front of people. I never get nervous, I saw my dad and my mom, and they never got nervous, so they led the way.” She is super excited and added, “This is my first time winning, and I want to be a good advocate. I got chosen, and that means a lot to me.”

Peggy and Fran at her certificate presentation.

Her sisters, Fran McCloskey and Teri Velner, are thrilled for Peggy and had this to share when we asked them how they feel about her being honored in this way. “WOW! We are so excited Peggy is being recognized as this year’s Dreammaker Self Advocate recipient. This recognition is especially meaningful too because advocacy is a tenet of our family. Our parents were tireless advocates for Peggy and people with developmental disabilities—even before the day she was born. We learned from our mom and dad the importance of speaking out to serve others who may not have a strong voice. Now Peggy is following in their footsteps, and boy! does she have a loud voice! It’s amazing and humbling to watch her carry on this torch for our generation.”

Teri and Peggy at Day at the Capitol.

Fran and Teri proudly add, “Peggy would never miss a Day at the Capitol for ARRM, or an opportunity to effectively share her messages about self-advocacy to a group anywhere in the country. Using her charm, wit, bubbly personality, and kind heart, she is never afraid to speak up and speak out to make sure she drives her agenda to be seen and heard. Her daily bravery ensures she gets the care and love and support she needs to thrive, benefiting those around her who have similar needs.”

Making the Gala artwork.

Peggy’s sisters believe her commitment to self-advocacy creates awareness of how we can all do better to lift each other up. They think Living Well has been a place that has and continues to support Peggy by encouraging her and creating opportunities for her voice to be heard, telling us, “The list of Living Well supporters is long—Paula, Joey, Rita, Cindi, Heidi, Kathy, Beth, Rod, Tom, Joe, and so many more who have touched her life and ours. Our family is so inspired and proud of her!”

Having coffee downtown Robbinsdale.

As you can see, Peggy is delightfully honest, spicy, funny, and a true extrovert. She loves good High-5 (at least from Heather), is slightly addicted to coffee, is always open for an adventure, and can make just about anyone smile. She is also this year’s Dreammaker Award Winner, so let’s wish continued success on her advocacy journey.

Join us at the gala on August 18 to learn more about this amazing woman or register to watch online.



(The Self-advocate award honors an individual served by Living Well Disability Services for their personal accomplishments. This could include advocating for themselves and others in the disability community. This award is special because our self-advocates are a key pillar of our organization. The work we do is for THEM. Everyone who donates, volunteers or partners with Living Well is doing it so the advocates can have a bigger brighter voice, a higher quality of life, and a community to call their own.)