Last week you were introduced to Brunswick, now this week it is Paul’s Place. Originally opened in 1987 and named Cheyenne, the home was renamed in 2006 after a generous donation was gifted to Living Well in memory of Paul Peterson. Some of the first people to live there were three sisters who had been with Living Well since they were children. Jean, Lisa and Anne, the daughters of Joanne and Don Varey, one of the founding families, along with their friend Bev, moved into Cheyenne in 1987, and were the first to call it home. At that time the children at our original location, Marie Avenue, were aging and we started the process of opening new smaller homes for them.
After almost two decades the home needed improvements to allow people to age in place comfortably. This is when June and Palmer Peterson, who loved the care their son received at Victoria Road and Mary Adele, stepped in with an incredible donation. They wanted to honor Paul’s legacy by helping other people living with disabilities after his death, and their donation allowed for the home to be fully remodeled in the fall of 2005. The house was then renamed Paul’s Place at the grand opening in January of 2006.
The remodel was extensive and included an addition that created an extra 400 square feet, opened the floor plan for easy movement of wheelchairs, widened doorways, and added skylights for more natural light. Everything was done to allow for more accessibility and to create a beautiful environment for all who lived there at the time, and those who would live there in the years to come. A dream remodel like this is something many would have had to simply dream of. But the kindness of a loving family who knew the importance of disability services was able to make this dream a beautiful reality and made it possible for all who live there to age in place and fully enjoy their home.
To this day the house is a sanctuary for the people who live and work there. The house has been a part of the community for over 35 years, has had decades of family support in its history, and it’s clear the people are what make it special.
Meet the People Who Call Paul’s Place Home:
Tom just hit the Big 4-0 and has been with LW since 2008. He has dreams of independent living and home ownership and got his vendors license so he can legally sell water at parades and public gatherings to save up for a house. He also hosts a regular lemonade stand for donations at the Quick Stop in South Saint Paul where the owners let him set up shop on beautiful days throughout the year. Just yesterday he was there and in the span of 20 minutes had six customers including a man who lives across the street who brought his friend from Florida to meet Tom. He thinks Tom is a personable dude, and he loves that the station is willing to let him sell in their parking lot. Another couple gave a $20 and waited for change until they heard him say he was saving for a house, and then immediately said. ‘Keep the change! We are always happy to pass it along to help a dream.’
As if that isn’t enough Tom has an online business and you can often find staff helping him sell goods on eBay and other resale sites. Treasures collect no dust in Tom’s room, he has an eye for fun finds and the hustle to sell them! Fun fact, he is also a dedicated vegan, who chose to eat this way to feel better in 2018. His stomach is less irritable now, so he is committed to the lifestyle. Program Manager, Dillon Orth, says, “It’s impressive, he never even has a cheat day, he really sticks to it.” Tom likes to cook for the house, and you can often find him making new menus to share.
Alecia just turned 42 two weeks ago and has been with Living Well since 2012. She is very sociable and recently dove into art. She was doing it two to three times a week at MSS, her day program, and now creates art five days a week. Alicia had an art show at MSS last week and exhibited many beautiful pieces. She prefers mixed media, often starting with paints and marker, adding layers of various media along the way. Alecia has a lovely relationship with MSS Service Coordinator, Becky. Together they have a steady long term advocacy relationship, and Becky helps her find projects and creates opportunities for Alecia to explore art and grow her passions.
Alecia is in a wheelchair but that doesn’t stop her from doing her favorite things—talking and getting on the trail near the house and heading to Walgreens, McDonalds, or Subway where she loves to get a Diet Coke. She chats with people along the way as she enjoys interacting with and meeting new people. She also is a voracious reader and enjoys finding articles on her iPad and researching interesting stuff. A TV watcher as well, her favorites include ‘Days of our Lives’ and other soaps. Her family is very involved, and she goes and visits at holidays and they visit every other week.
Angie is 38 and has been Living Well since 2008. She is into baking and coloring and spends her days Wednesday through Friday at MSS. She is also very sociable and enjoys being with people. And as often as she can she sees her parents—they chat once a day and stop weekly to visit.
Movement is important to Angie, and she goes to an exercise class every Tuesday and a dance class every Saturday. Their family has an accessible van so her mother will pick her up and get her to class in St. Paul. Dillon points out how lucky they are that two families at Paul’s Place have accessible vans, as it makes getting into the community on weekends so much easier, especially with the staffing shortage. Last year her mom and dad were able to swing by and pick her up for a Vikings game using Living Well tickets. They had a blast and it made getting there possible. Speaking of the Vikings, she is a SUPER FAN who loves to wear purple and gold and go to games whenever possible!
Angie likes ginger ale and is perhaps the most adventurous eater at the house who is not afraid to try new stuff, although tacos are a favorite. She likes to put lists together and go shopping for random things. Last year she went to the Chanhassen dinner theater. And she loved Camp Menogyn. Basically, if there is an experience to be had, she wants to go. This summer she might get more involved with the garden out back.
Justine is 35 and moved in back in 2008. To follow the trend, she is also extremely social! This house is clearly full of big personalities and people who like to be in the community. Justine goes on Metro Mobility to MSS with Angie, but usually goes a few extra days each week. Everyone gets along in their own way, and Angie looks out for Justine when they ride to MSS.
Her parents stop in once a week, and they often do something fun together. They are the other family that own a van, which is very rare to have two in one house, and this helps tremendously with logistics. Justine went from living with her parents to living with Living Well, so they are very comfortable with driving and being out in the community. Justine does Special Olympics Bowling and Track and Field, so you can often find her parents picking her up for that.
Justine loves painting and drawing and likes to be social while at MSS. She has a voracious greeting, and everyone knows her there. Justine likes to chit chat and greet everyone, and you can hear her from far away, she is loud and interactive and the fun kind of spicy. She is good friends with someone at our Poppler house and the MSS bus used to come pick them up together. She loves music therapy at the house and enjoys hanging out around staff. She can take a while to warm up to people, but when she likes you, she never forgets you. Justine loves her family and loves her staff—she has her favorites and former staff will stop by and she is excited to see them. She truly perks up when she sees friends.
Everyone gets along well, and they enjoy seeing each other after a busy day. They often call out ‘good night’ to each other when they go to bed.
The Staff Who Make Everything Possible:
Vincent is the evening supervisor. Dillon thinks he is an incredible guy, and very easy to work with. He says, “Vincent is the rock of the evening shift. I know he cares about everybody. If he is there, things are going to get done.” He is able to manage temp staff like a boss and is great at training people. Dillon says, “When I hire someone new, I make sure they get at least two shifts with him, he is that good.” For Justine and Tom, he is a favorite.
Everlyne does evenings and overnights, and both she and Vincent pick up substantial shifts at Diane Road in addition to working at Paul’s Place. They are magic at keeping two houses stable. Dillon says she is a lot like Vincent—it is very clear she cares about people. He says, “She has incredible attention to detail when it comes to the people and how she cares for them. When the power went out, she expertly planned and turned the lifts off to preserve power for the morning. I am at ease when she is running the ship.” Dillon does not have to worry about anything when she is at the house, because he knows she never thinks bare minimum, that she goes above and beyond the DSP position.
Genevive does overnights and has done so for about 5 years. She is stable and always present and reliable. If she needs time off, she finds her coverage and makes it happen. She is steady and always prepared, which Dillon says is super important these days.
Katy was recommended by one of our founders, Karen Pate, and has worked part time days at Paul’s Place since September. Katy is genuinely kind and is always ‘people first.’ Dillon says, “She is probably the only person I would ever need to schedule breaks or rest for. She is go-go-go. I have to push her out the door when it is time to clock out.” He says she always does more than she needs to and will try to cram an 8-hour shift into 4 hours which is unnecessary yet super appreciated. Dillon is impressed that she will not let something sit if the quality of care is ever in question, as she is the ultimate advocate. He adds, “They all are beautiful advocates here!”
Dillon is a super great guy, and everyone who meets him likes him. He is at the house almost daily and came to Living Well after following in his aunt’s footsteps. He would not have thought about this career without her, Program Manager, Alex Buslee. He went to school to be a filmmaker and works on film projects in his limited spare time. When asked what he likes about the job, he says, “My favorite part of the job is the people we support and the staff. I always start and end my time at the house each day with a smile because of the people there.” He appreciates the conversations with staff on the way out and says they all get to connect and have fun. They work well together and have an end of the year staff dinner at a restaurant which has turned into a highlight because they are all able to connect outside of work.
The house recently hired two new staff, and everyone is hoping they will fall in love with the house as much as everyone else has! Paul’s Place really has a lovely family vibe with lots of history and stories within those walls. It is a community-based home that thrives because the people there work beautifully together. It is another shining star in our group of 36 homes. We are lucky to have such an incredible team over there.