Our DSP this week is Rachel. She has been with Living Well for over 10 years and is an incredible employee in every regard. Rachel is equally committed to the people she supports and the staff at our Powell home. Dedication to the job, enthusiasm for helping others, and a natural ability to connect with others make her an incredible part of the Living Well family.

Rachel and Carl.

Julie Oachs, Program Manager, says, “Rachel is extremely organized and always willing to go the extra mile for the benefit of the team. She is highly aware of the needs of the people she works with and knows their preferences and how best to support them.” For the entire ten years she has worked here, Rachel has hardly taken a holiday off. She works hard to make holidays special for individuals, and when there is a desire, she finds out and gets it scheduled. Rachel is part of an incredible team, and together they know if you had to wait every time you wanted a bottle of pop, a bag of chips, or to choose what’s for dinner, that it would be stifling. So, they work beautifully together to bring a little joy and a lot of choices to the people they serve.

Julie Martindale, whose daughter lives at the house, says, “Because of Rachel’s kindness and compassion, I know that my daughter is always treated with the dignity and respect she deserves—that we all deserve as human beings. I am humbled to watch Rachel in action and to see her attitude towards those who happen to have a disability. She sets the tone at the house and in the community. She treats people like people. Simple as that … this is what makes Rachel an exemplary staff person and even better human.”

With her family.

Rachel’s interest in helping others started young. Her parents, Bruce and Debbie Otten, tell us, “As a high school student she volunteered to help when we were working on projects with the Knights of Columbus including selling Christmas trees, helping with serving breakfast, and helping out with our tootsie roll project where the profits went to help people with disabilities.”

Rachel, we appreciate you, as well as your parents’ obvious dedication to leading by example and showing you the importance of showing up for others. We adore your hard work and kind heart. Thank you for making a career out of caring.




Number of R/months with Living Well: 10 years 7 months

Hobbies/Interests: Volunteering with the animal rescue and reading.

Education: Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Services with a minor in Psychology from St. Mary’s University.

Job Experience/History: I started as DSP that only worked weekends at Douglas and then switched to full time shortly after. From there I transferred to Powell to be the daytime APM and haven’t looked back.

Favorite part of the job: I love the individuals that I work with but I’m also the oddball who really loves the paperwork side of things!

Favorite or craziest work story: One of the favorite things during the summer for the individuals at Powell is attending the Spud Fest Parade. One year, one of our individuals had the opportunity to walk in the parade for their day placement center. Some were in a bus, but I was able to walk with RW specifically as he wanted to physically walk the route. It was like walking with a celebrity. Up and down the street everyone in the community was yelling out his name and waving at him. I was constantly pointing out people to him that were saying hi. He was the guy who said hi to everyone and always asked people their names. He was someone you just couldn’t forget, and it showed in the community that day. He had the biggest smile on his face the entire time and had a blast. He loved the Big Lake community, and the Big Lake community loved him back twice as much. He talked about that walk for months afterward and here I am talking about it 5+ years later.

What is your motivation for coming to work: I don’t think I have a specific motivation for coming to work. I love working with the individuals who live at Powell, and I also have amazing coworkers. Powell is more of a family than a work team. Everyone works together and relies on each other. It’s truly a fun environment to work in.

What made you apply: I always thought I would work with children in a day placement setting, however I felt drawn to working with Living Well. I wanted to be able to use my education and put my skills to good use and haven’t looked back.

What makes you stay: So often you hear people say they leave a job because of bad management, however at Powell we stay because of our manager. Julie is fantastic and has created such a great environment amongst the staff. She holds us to high standards and really emphasizes teamwork. She cares tremendously about the individuals we serve and reminds us daily on the importance of being person centered. It’s hard to have a bad day at work when she’s around!

What would you tell people interested in joining the team: I would tell people that it can be challenging, however the rewards outweigh those challenges. The individuals we have the privilege of supporting often don’t get a lot of choice throughout their day so being able to be a positive part of their life who gets to help when needed or just gets to give them chances to advocate for themselves is such an empowering feeling. Not only do you get to have fun at work, but you get to make a difference in ways you didn’t realize were possible.

When not at work what do you like to do for fun: I spend most of my time volunteering for the animal rescue. I’m involved in a lot of areas within the rescue that are remote positions so I can volunteer whenever and however long I want to. I also enjoy hanging out with my family and friends.

Volunteering with a pup!

Do you volunteer in your community or school: I’m a foster and volunteer with Ruff Start Rescue which is an animal rescue based out of Princeton. I mainly foster cats and have had over 250 fosters over five years. I’m also an adoption center coordinator and intake coordinator with them. I assist with running our same day adoption centers and work with owners who need to surrender their animals. I’ve been with Ruff Start for almost six years.




Want to nominate a DSP? Please email jessica.maurer@livingwell.org 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.