Our DSP this week is Daniel. He has been with Living Well as an occasional employee for 18 years. Occasional staff come to cover shifts when the house has a need or can sign up for special outings and events.
Daniel is a regular on the annual Dog Sledding Trip at Camp Menogyn off the Gunflint Trail. He picks up the crew, makes the 5-hour drive to Grand Marais and another hour on the trial, and then helps walk and sled the crew and gear 20 minutes across ice to the camp. He participates with enthusiasm no matter the weather, as his heart is fully committed to helping everyone have fun. This year there was barely any snow (thankfully there was plenty of ice) which meant the dogs were not on site. But Daniel was not deterred and still had a blast helping James experience the outdoors—and the polar plunge!
Brenda Carrillo, Program Manager at France, says, “One Sunday a month Daniel takes three of the people from the house to the Arboretum. They look forward to the adventure and always have a lot of fun. They always walk to the garden and often do arts and crafts. It is a fun time, and we appreciate him doing this for them.”
Heather Heier, Communications and Events Manager, says, “Daniel is an incredible advocate and an even better human. Watching him walk with James in the cold on their way from the sauna to the watery hole in the ice for the polar plunge was beyond inspiring.” It was freezing and they were in swimwear, and somehow, he and a volunteer from Wilderness Inquiry didn’t even seem to shiver. They were there for James and spent close to 10 minutes helping him do something he was excited about doing, it was lovely to watch. She adds, “I met Daniel for the first time on the trip, and now cannot wait to do the trip again because he made it so amazing. Watching him be of service to everyone there was a big part of what made the trip special.”
Daniel, we are incredibly grateful for your kind heart and interest in supporting our mission of providing exceptional services. Thank you for making time in your busy life to care for others. We appreciate you.
Number of years/months with Living Well: 18 years
Hobbies/Interests: Baseball and the outdoors
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Earth Science
Job Experience/History: In addition to Living Well, I work for Minneapolis Public Schools in a middle school autism program.
Favorite part of the job: Being able to help the people we serve interact with their community and helping an individual each year participate in the Dog Sledding trip!
Favorite work story: Five or so years ago it was in the 40s up north during the dog sledding trip and James (who I was supporting) decided to participate in the polar plunge for the first time. It was quite a process but about three of us helped him down to the hole in the lake and he dipped his toe in the water. He was so proud of himself and had such a big smile! Seeing him do that was the highlight of the trip for several people that year. Each year since he has chosen to continue participating in the plunge. Last year was the first time he dipped his hand in the water and splashed his head in addition to putting his toe in. This year he splashed water on his head many times in addition to dipping his toe! He is always so proud of himself for participating!
What is your motivation for coming to work: Spending time with and helping the people we support
What made you apply: Ever since I was young I wanted to work with adults with disabilities. Then after college I saw an ad in a newspaper, applied, and got hired.
What makes you stay: The people we support. I love working with and spending time with them.
What would you tell people interested in joining the team: Living Well is a fantastically run organization and does in fact prioritize the health and wellness of the people we serve.
When not at work what do you like to do for fun: Attend baseball games and camp and hike in national and state parks.
Do you volunteer in your community or school: Yes, I volunteer in my neighborhood and with my union through Minneapolis Public Schools.
Want to nominate a DSP? Please email email@example.com 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 for sponsorship opportunities.