Meal Masters in action, prepping 12 pans for 120 servings during each one hour volunteer block.

Last week you met Denise Anderson, the Self-Advocate Dreammaker Award winner who will be celebrated at the Transforming Lives Gala on August 19. This week let’s focus on the Volunteer Dreammaker award winners—the Kathy Henrickson/Heidi Reichow Family.

Kathy, Heidi and Alora have been contributing time and effort to support our Kennelly home as well as the entire organization on a regular basis for years. This fabulous foursome, consisting of Grandma Kathy, daughter Heidi and her daughter Alora, have a special connection with Living Well—their daughter, sister and auntie, Becky, has lived at Kennelly for 39 years. They are some of the best people on earth and ramped up their efforts the last couple of years, just when we needed helpers the most. They are the perfect team to call at a moment’s notice to help stuff envelopes, make freezer meals, deliver supplies, or pretty much tackle anything to help the staff get projects done with speed and ease. They show up with smiles and enthusiasm, ready to complete the task at hand. They are dedicated to our mission of transforming the lives of people impacted by disabilities through the delivery of exceptional services and support us in every way possible. They even looped friends into their volunteerism, and it is not uncommon for us to see them as well as friends Gabi, and Arina working on projects together. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and their dedication steadfast.

Arina and Alora spray painted the centerpieces for the Gala so people served at Living Well homes could paint them.

Kathy, Heidi, and Alora have fully conquered our freezer meals production for the homes and were an integral part of the learning process when we first established the Meal Master’s program. They were part of the first group to make meals with us five years ago and did so monthly throughout the beginning of COVID. Kathy used her previous experience running a restaurant to help build the program and ensure success with large meal assembly. The Henrickson’s helped tweak new recipes and offered their expertise on what would be best for the homes where both staff and people served would be enjoying the meals. They have donated large capacity supplies such as bowls, can openers, and items for meal assembly.

Kathy and Heidi receiving the Dreammaker certificate and flowers before a volunteer delivery shift.

When the freezer meal volunteer program became well established with a wide variety of groups, they became our “as needed” volunteers to ensure last minute needs were covered. They have also been volunteering frequently as delivery drivers when the regular drivers are called away which has been critical to ensure seamless operations. They are willing to drive to homes close by Northland as well as to our furthest homes in Buffalo, Big Lake, and Cambridge. They consistently answer last-minute requests to help when needed.

Becky and Heid at Family Fun Day in June.

And of course, the family has been involved with Becky and her home at Kennelly, and everyone who lives there, since the home opened in 1983. During the pandemic, when spending time with people outside was the only way to gather, they initiated a donation from a local veterans group for a fabulous new patio table, chairs, and umbrella!

Everyone who knows them benefits from their can-do attitude and willingness to help.

In truth, we couldn’t do what we do without our dedicated volunteers. They are essential when it comes to getting important things done when staff is too busy or running out of time. With the critical staff shortage hitting our industry, volunteer help is more important than ever, and we are grateful beyond measure. Kathy, Heidi, Alyssa and Alora make a direct impact on Living Well every time they walk through the door.

We look forward to celebrating them on August 19, 2022, at our Transforming Lives Gala. For more information, click here.



(The Volunteer Dreammaker award honors a Living Well Disability Services volunteer—individual or group—who has made an outstanding contribution or demonstrated exemplary leadership, creativity, cooperation and hard work that transformed the lives of people we support.)