Epic Enterprise, Functional Industries, ProAct, TSE round out DSP, Tip of Spear Awards
The Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) announced the state's top direct support professionals during the Spring Training Conference in Duluth. Here are the 2022 winners.
Enrichment Focus – Metro
Tom Fix, ProAct, Inc.
A dream employee for every caregiver, supervisor and coworker, direct support professional Tom Fix with ProAct in Shakopee has enjoyed a 36-year career in the field, with 30 of those years in day services. “He sings, dances, plays games, assists with any cares needed and always takes the time of day to really get to know the people he supports,” said award organizer and MOHR Board Member Lynne Megan.
In his three decades of service, he has met and worked with many people, ranging from those who need complete help to some with behavioral issues and those who just want to have fun and be “one of the guys,” explains ProAct Day Support Service Manager Ali Brown. He has been a one-to-one staff, led enrichment activities, taught “Sports with Tom” sessions and created a Smart TV Karaoke class that took off, she said. “It is so cool when you can come to work and have people know your name and they are thrilled to see you,” said Fix. “How many jobs have that?” Photo: Fix is joined by ProAct CEO Judie Foster-Lupkin, left, and Brown, at the MOHR Spring Training Conference.
Enrichment Focus – Greater Minnesota
Samantha Davis, Functional Industries
Case Manager Samantha “Sam” Davis with Functional Industries in Buffalo always puts the individuals she serves first, said Lead Case Manager Jenna O’Donnell. She understands “person-centeredness,” thinks outside the box and involves others in decision-making.
Davis has an innovative approach to developing opportunities around individual choice, said Director of Individualized Services Ashley Nordlie. A five-year employee who has served in various roles, she dreams with teams about options, then plans and researches ways that individuals can thrive outside of the provider’s walls and build more relationships in their communities, O’Donnell explains.
Enrichment Focus – Greater Minnesota
Alyssa Sampson, Epic Enterprise
With an intense drive to learn and expand the knowledge of Epic Enterprise participants, arts instructor Alyssa Sampson breaks down barriers and creates a sense of pride and accomplishment, said Program Director Leah Williams. “She uses her skills, abilities, and passion to help Epic participants develop holistically by expanding their artistic/cognitive functioning, physical functioning, and social/emotional wellbeing,” Williams explains.
Art is a means of personal expression and the onset of the pandemic in 2020 added virtual options to Sampson’s repertoire of services. At times, this involved quick thinking and using commonly available materials in people’s homes. As Epic uses a hybrid model for art classes today, Sampson assures that each participant is greeted, engaged and feels a part of the class, whether they’re in-person or joining remotely. Artists she has trained have had their work displayed at the Northfield Allina Clinic, Brick Oven Bakery, Hideaway Coffee House, Rice County Fair and other locations.
Employment Service – Metro
Anna Thompson, TSE, Inc.
With a knack for finding out what people like to do, what they want to do and what they would be good at, TSE employment specialist Anna Thompson in St. Paul is a star employee in the nonprofit’s Work Ahead Resource Center. She matches people with disabilities with jobs in the community.
“I’m thankful for the support I got from my family and coworkers, my boss and the resources and time to do extra things,” said Thompson. “I like being busy and doing a variety of different things. That’s what has kept me in this field for so long.” She has 25 years with the provider. Supervisor Sue Armstrong said Thompson learned her trade from the ground up, knowing that most she would serve would require one-to-one supports throughout their work shifts. Photo: Armstrong, left and Thompson celebrate at the MOHR Spring Training Conference.
Employment Service – Greater Minnesota
Mari Sorgatz, Epic Enterprise
When work slowed down, job coach Mari Sorgatz with Epic Enterprise in Northfield got busy meeting with the individuals she serves to plan out volunteer activities. More community engagement was a bonus, and individuals were able to maintain and grow their skills, explains Program Coordinator Michelle Sticken.
Sorgatz coaches three crewmembers for the City of Northfield. They clean parks, the city shop, ice arena and water treatment plant. “Everyone looks up to Mari and aspires to be able to impact others the way she does.” She’s a 30-year veteran of the active nonprofit.
Tip of the Spear
Lynne Megan, TSE, Inc.
Lynne Megan, a 44-year veteran of the disability services field with a wide history of advocacy was named
for the 2022 MOHR “Tip of the Spear Award,” which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated characteristics, traits and skills that have improved the lives of people with disabilities. MOHR President Julie Johnson presented.
“The Tip of the Spear Award recognizes somebody who jumps to act and inspires others to do the same,” said Johnson. “Lynne always thinks about people with disabilities, communicates with everybody all the time about the importance of the work we do and the importance of including people with disabilities in the community.”
Megan is part of the Optimist Club and is bringing that experience to young people with disabilities, said Johnson. She’s active in MOHR on its board and with ARRM and has served as a member of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.
On the national level, Megan helped advance the objectives of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), serving on its board, as a trustee, advisor and in leadership development, said ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill. “There really isn’t a substantive ANCOR initiative that hasn’t benefited from Lynne’s passion, dedication and steady leadership.” Photo: Lynne Megan, center, is congratulated by her staff at the MOHR Spring Training Conference.