Barb and Dean.

Our DSP Shoutout for this week is Barb. She is a paraprofessional by day at the Elk River School District, and in the afternoons and evenings she woks at our Powell home in Big Lake. She is dedicated to the job, and an enthusiastic care giver. And to make it even better, her husband Dean is invested in her job as well, often meeting up for outings and helping the crew have fun. Together they take people to church, out to dinner and bowling! They are a dream team—he is almost like an extra employee!

Program Manager, Julie Oachs, who has been with Living Well for 33 years, says, “Barb is always positive, a total go getter. She is one of those people who lights up a room whenever she walks in. The people over here at Powell adore her!” Julie loves that when Barb is on shift her husband Dean will often meet them out and about. She says, “He is a super caring guy. He goes bowling with the guys and will sit and chat with them.” Barb and Dean will take John out to dinner and socialize, which is one of the fundamental parts of our mission, exceptional services in community.

Barb with Carl.

Barb’s coworkers agree. Renee Lipinski, Living Well Health Counseling Nurse, has been with us 28 years. She started as an APM first, then became a nurse, so she knows a thing or two about what makes a good caregiver. She says, “Barb is very forward thinking and always proactive on her shifts. She has the ability to look ahead and figure out what needs to happen next to get things done right.” Rachel Otten, Assistant Program Manager, adds, “Barb always puts the wants and needs of the individuals first.” And fellow DSP, McKenzie Kuberka, says, “She is a calming presence in the home.” Last but not least, Carl says with a sweet voice, “She’s nice.”

Go, Broncos. 🙂

Barb is the kind of person we all would want to help in our homes. If you can get past her love of the Broncos, you will see she is one of the best! We kid, and so do Julie and Barb who like to have fun when they are at work and happily razz each other about their favorite teams.

Congrats, Barb—we appreciate you!





Number of years/months with Living Well: 8 Years 9 Months

Hobbies/Interests: My hobbies are gardening, biking and spending time with my family and grandchildren.

Education: I have a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with an early childhood minor.

Job Experience/History: My first job was babysitting and I waitressed in high school and college. I finished college and started working as a Paraprofessional for a private school for children with Autism. I have been working for the Elk River School District as a Special Education Assistant for 24 years, while working part time for Living Well.

Favorite part of the job: My favorite part of my job is taking the clients out on outings. I love to go to church, bowling and mini golf with them.

Favorite work story: They are a part of my family.  My husband comes over and hangs out with the guys.  They are always asking “How is your family?”

What is your motivation for coming to work: My motivation for coming to work is the people I serve, they put a smile on my face and make me laugh.

What made you apply: I applied because I got tired of working retail.

What made you stay: The reason I stay is because of the coworkers, but even more so because of the clients I get to work with. I love to be able to make their day better by putting a smile on their face. This place is close to my home and working with people with disabilities is close to my heart.

When not at work what do you like to do for fun: I like to go for walks, camping and to go see my family.

Do you volunteer in your community or school: I am a greeter at the church I go to.


Want to nominate a DSP? Please email to nominate a Living Well DSP. Special thanks to Miles and Cheri Cohen for their support of DSP of Week. Want to join them in underwriting our DSP Shoutout Program? Please contact Devan Heinsen at for sponsorship opportunities.