Our DSP Shoutout for this week is Heidi. She has been with Living Well for over 25 years and is an incredible employee and top-notch human being. We are lucky she is here and have Rod Carlson, COO, to thank for talking her into the initial role she applied for—senior advocate. Heidi initially thought that meant working with seniors. Rod remembers her asking if she would be working with senior citizens, and he recalls his reply was, “If you work here long enough, you will.” All these years later, we have one of the best of the best, and it is clear that she was made for the position. Rod and Heidi still laugh about her interview, and we are all better for her taking the job.
Program Manager, Cindi Sharpe, says of Heidi, “It is important to the people we serve that they have what they need, and how they present to the community. She helps people be fully ready for their days and to blend into community seamlessly. She helps them put their best foot forward so they can live their best lives.” Heidi knows everyone really well, and she will go the extra mile for the details. She is so organized she almost drives the rest of the staff nuts with her perfectionism, because the details matter to her. Cindi says, “I am very thankful for what she brings to the team, we are on the same page with details, and this is all very important. She knows them very well, and that makes a huge difference. She loves personal details and enjoys the hunt for what they need. If someone needs pillows, she just knows it because she pays attention to EVERYTHING.”
One of the people she supports, Doug, says, “I like Heidi a lot. She helps me out with lots of stuff. She got me signed up for camp and planned a Vegas trip. I really like her!” Heidi is loved by everyone because she prioritizes relationships and works hard to get the small and big things accomplished. She will always go above and beyond, and for this we are all grateful.
Direct Support Professionals like Heidi are what make Living Well special, without them we cannot provide the exceptional services we are known for. Congrats, Heidi—we appreciate your work and your willingness to do the fun things AND the tedious stuff.
Number of years/months with Living Well: 25 years 5 months
Hobbies/Interests: Gardening and spending time with my family.
Education: Social work degree from Bemidji State.
Job Experience/History: I worked with a company that provided housing to under age youth just after college. I began full time employment with Dakota’s Children in 1998. I went part-time and occasional over the years when my boys were little. At that same time, I worked with children with disabilities for a number of years at my local elementary school. When COVID came along, schools closed for a time, and I found myself back at LWDS – more than full time!
Favorite part of the job: Making meaningful, personal connections with people served. Wonderful, melting hugs and fist bumps are amazing too! I have known several person’s served for so many years now. It’s fun to reminisce and start conversation with “ remember when… “
Favorite work story: I work with a man that dearly likes to eat out. During COVID, so many places were closed, and we simply did not have that staffing to make that happen very often. When he would get down and bummed about not being able to go out, my co-worker and I would help him get “take out.” I would grab the van keys and let him know I was going to pick up his meal. I exited the front door and let myself in the back door. We would prepare a meal and put it in a brown paper bag with napkins and plastic silverware and maybe a couple ketchup packets. (After months of this, we got quite creative!) I quietly exited the back door and went around the building and entered the front door, van keys still in hand, announcing that his meal had arrived. He would get so excited! He was literally eating the same meal as everyone else in the house, but it was presented in a way that made him very happy. It was a silly sleight of hand that brought a lot of joy.
What is your motivation for coming to work: I really enjoy working as a team to help people live their best life.
What made you apply: I applied quite by accident. I interviewed with Rod Carlson in a creepy back room in the basement of 3801 for a senior advocate position. (This was formerly the job title of APM.) I believed myself to be applying to work with senior citizens. I attempted to back-pedal out of the interview, but by the time I left, I was hired! 🙂
What made you stay: Many years ago, Cindi Sharp was my co-worker. She is now my supervisor. We have done some crazy, fun, empowering (even gross!) things together over the years! We have very different personalities, but we have similarities as well. We complement each other well, allowing us to work together and support people served in a meaningful way. Cindi is a large part of why I keep coming back!
What would you tell people interested in joining the team: Put your phone down and come meet some great people.
When not at work what do you like to do for fun: Gardening, trying new recipes and spending time with my family.
Do you volunteer in your community or school: Not so much now. When my boys were young, I volunteered for many years at their elementary school. And then when they were older, being involved with their sporting activities. Currently, I spend quite a bit of time with my aging parents and check in on a couple older neighbors and lend a hand or do errands when needed.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org for sponsorship opportunities.