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Making a difference for people with disabilities in our community through work as a direct support professional

Right now, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is hiring direct support professionals to join their team and work in one of more than 25 residential homes across the metro

area. Each home provides personalized supports to the individuals that live there.

 

LSS is seeking new hires like Kelli Whisnant, who has had a long and satisfying career supporting people with disabilities.

 

Whisnant was inspired to do this work when she was still in junior high and accompanied her mother to her job as a personal care attendant for an older man with disabilities.

 

“When we got to his apartment, it was dark. It felt cold, and it smelled stale,” Whisnant

recalled. “She went to his bed and talked to him, to make sure he knew who she was.

She asked him what she could do for him, what had he eaten, would he like a warm

shower?”

 

While Whisnant sat quietly, she watched while her mother “did a magical dance.”

 

“The lights came on, she opened the windows to let the fresh air in. She mopped the

floor, cooked his lunch,” Whisnant said. “That place that had felt so cold and dreary

became alive and felt like home. The man said, ‘Thank you, God bless you.’”

 

Now 44 and a mother herself, Whisnant followed in her mother’s career footsteps at LSS, starting as a direct support professional.

 

“That’s why I came and why I stayed. I wanted to add those special things to someone’s life and make that kind of an impact,” she said.

 

“Our amazing direct support professionals have such a strong commitment to ensuring

people aspire to achieve their hopes and dreams,” said Heidi Reisdorf, senior director of Disability Services at Lutheran Social Service. “Their passion for service is evident in

the meaningful work they do every day.”

 

“The person in that role is entrusted with making their day memorable, whether it’s

helping them pack a lunch, get ready for work the next day, just being that companion.

The support they need ranges,” Whisnant added. “When I’m clocked in, I say, ‘I’m here

for you. How can I help you reach your goal?’”

 

LSS offers a range of competitive benefits for full-time direct support professionals, who earn medical, dental and vision plans, paid time off, matched retirement savings,

daycare resources, college tuition scholarships and discounts, and the opportunity to

work flexible schedules. Some new employees qualify for up to a $2,000 hiring bonus.

 

“Here at LSS, we strive to offer employees opportunities to find pathways of growth in

their careers, Reisdorf added. “We are committed to the ongoing training and

development of our team members, as well as promoting from within the organization.”

 

LSS offers person-centered care to the residents that they support and providing it

brought Whisnant great satisfaction. After working as a direct support professional at an LSS home for several years, Whisnant’s compassion and consistent excellence was recognized, and she moved up to the role of house coordinator.

 

“I’ve always seen myself as an above and beyond employee. I wanted to challenge

myself,” she said. “They recognized these things in me. I love working for an

organization that has equipped me with tools to grow and be an advocate.”

 

After LSS honored her with a President’s Leadership Excellence Award for her work in

2022, LSS promoted Whisnant again. She is now a training specialist, working with

direct support professionals to prepare them to provide the kind of excellent person-

centered care that is the standard for LSS.

 

“The new team members are excited and curious. I can share stories from my

experience. They can see that if you put the work in, you will be recognized,” Whisnant

said. “I want to recruit awesome people who want to help someone else achieve their

goals. I love being that person.”

 

People interested in learning more about opportunities working as a direct support

professional with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota can learn more at

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