Jan, Kenzie, Robert and Vicky.

We absolutely love telling you about our homes. This week we want to tell you about our house in Big Lake—Powell. As with all of our homes, the stars of the show over there are the people. Powell is lucky to have a staff with incredible tenure. Julie, Teresa and Janice have been working at the home nearly 35 years. Renee has been there almost 30, starting as an APM and now with an agency as a nurse. Robert and Janice both have over 20 years with the home. Isha, Deb and Rachel all have over 10 years now, and Barb is close to 10. The newest members of the team are Vicky with three years, and Kenzie, who started as our art intern and has been on board for over a year. With any luck they will stick around a decade, too! Oh, and don’t forget Theresa, who just came back and has 22 years of experience. It is a deep and committed bench filled with talent and compassion.

The people who call Powell home are delightful as well, and the best way to tell you how great they are is to introduce them to you.

Carl moved to Powell in March of 1989 and is 68 years young. He loves going to church with others from the house. Carl enjoys getting dressed up, wearing his fedora, and bringing home his Church Bulletin every week. If he cannot go, he watches the church’s live stream. But in truth he much prefers it in-person because the donuts and coffee are a favorite. Barb, Jan E, Janice, and Teresa all go there as well, so there is no shortage of people ready to take him on Sunday mornings. Carl also really likes Christmas traditions like stockings on the bedroom doors, making Christmas cookies with the Jans, and wearing red for the holidays. Carl is a big time bowler with the Special Olympics. He really loves eating hot dogs, so much so that last summer Kenzie took him to see the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. He loves watching TV— Vikings and Twins are at the top of his list up there with the Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune and Family Feud. And he LOVES getting mail. Carl is a fun and easy-going guy who is well loved at the house.

Sophie moved to Powell 2019 and is the youngest of the crew at 23. Sophie loves to swing and her iPads. Yep, she has 6 iPads, and all have different music on them, ready to play her favorite tunes. She expresses her needs and emotions nonverbally. Julie says she communicates better than most, and when she needs or wants something, she lets you know it. Sophie likes to eat, cheese sticks, mac and cheese, quesadillas—anything with cheese is a favorite. She is a great self-advocate who always knows what she wants. She has a support stroller that she enjoys walks in. Sophie also really enjoys Wednesdays, as that is when her mother Lois comes to take her on adventures. She has great relationships with both of her parents and her brother and sister, too. Her parents are fierce advocates for their children and are so kind. Sophie lovies sensory activities and has a kind heart.

McKenna is 31 and joined Powell in 2019 as well. She is a real mover and a shaker—always wanting to move, go out, and dance. She recently had a blast at the Halloween dance at Options, a day program, where she enjoys spending time. McKenna is very proud of her room, and over time with Living Well has grown her independence. She likes to be out and about as much as possible. She also really likes to look nice, so you will see her with freshly blown out hair and painted nails. She loves playing cards like Uno and Garbage, trips to Build a Bear, and making and wearing tie-dye. She does not like to be bored, so downtime is no-no. With that in mind Living Well staff pair her time with activities she loves, making crafts is a go to activity. She will go home for most of the holidays. And this month will go to Florida with family, she LOVES trips. McKenna likes talking on the phone with family. And her family also visits a lot— she sees her aunt, brother, mom, or dad three times a week. Her parents and family are also huge advocates for their child and have a history of helping others. They have fostered many children, and her dad works at a children’s hospice. McKenna is often happy and busy and smiling, surrounded by friends and family.

Kent is 57 and moved into Powell back in 1986. He is a quiet man by nature who loves his alone time. He will happily be around people, but it is not his priority as he prefers it to be quiet. He has an incredible memory and can easily tell you things about his childhood, including stories about his first-grade teacher. He loves music, like the Beatles and The Doobie Brothers, and plays music on his record player. He got his love of music from his dad, and together they went to a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band concert a few years back. Kent has a sweet tooth, loving M&M Blizzards from DQ. And he really loves warm weather walks. He calls mom twice a week. And his dad often takes him out. Kent is a low-key and easy-going guy whose favorite place is his room and sharing time with close friends and family.

John is 56 and joined the house back in 2006. His calling card is that he is hilarious. If you meet him, you will find his sense of humor immediately. He loves his room. When he moved from one room to another, he decorated it tip to tail in Vikings gear, and he fell in love with it. His big comfy bed and a tv recliner with a magazine holder make his man cave extra enticing. Plus new clothes, Vikings sheets and a 55 inch TV, no wonder he never wants to leave. John’s humor is the best, and he has great delivery like a comedian. If you get him to smile, he lights up the room. John was adopted young, and spent time in many different homes, never having a long-term home before moving to Living Well. At first, he ate alone, but soon he fell in love with having a home. Now he enjoys playing basketball with the whole house, has built a special relationship with Barb and her husband who take him out to dinner often. John recites bible verses. Loves getting cards. And really loves helping Robert out around the house. He will do outside clean up, take the garbage out, and vacuum. John loves his home, and helping to keep it clean. This is his longest place and it suits him beautifully.

This time of year, the crew at Powell lean into traditions. This weekend they are making holiday cookies. They each get a stocking by their bedroom doors. The house is decorated and festive. And some will go to church as a group. They are almost like family—and if you were to ask, they would probably all say they are indeed family. When you love the work you do, you stay. When you feel settled and secure, you feel seen and supported. And when you have a house with so many wonderful people, it certainly feels like home.

Thank you to the team at Powell for making the house so welcoming. And to the families and guardians, thank you for sharing your loved ones with Living Well.

There is currently an opening at the Powell home. If you have any questions, please contact COO Rod Carlson at Rod.Carlson@livingwell.org.

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EDITED: Wanted to share a photo of cookie making on Saturday after publication!