Olive Branch workers extend themselves

Olive Branch workers extend themselves

Olive Branch, a supported home for people with disabilities that is operated by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) in Fosston, received an international award recognizing the team’s dedication to person-centered support.

The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) honored the Olive Branch team with its 2019 Award of Excellence for the team’s commitment to improving the quality of life for the individuals they support.

LSS’ supported homes like Olive Branch offer support so that individuals they serve can live as independently as possible, work toward their hopes and dreams and live full lives in the community.

“These staff members represent the pinnacle of putting people first,” said Mary Kay Rizzolo, president and CEO of CQL. “From helping to develop plans to putting it all into action, they’re focused on what really matters to the people they support.”

Katie Hedlund, Olive Branch designated coordinator, recently attended the CQL award ceremony in Baltimore to accept the award on her team’s behalf. Team members were honored for a wide range of activities:

  • Ensuring individuals they support participate in community activities, such as Halloween parties, volunteer work and involvement supporting the local high school football team.
  • Aligning employee training and development with the goals for each individual.
  • Developing innovations that improve support for people with disabilities, including feedback to make a medication dispenser prototype easier to use.
  • Promoting self-advocacy among the people they serve through efforts such as the Minnesota Olmstead Academy, which offers training on disability rights advocacy.

“The Olive Branch Team is actively engaged in advocacy that ensures the people they support are leading the lives they choose,” said Heidi Reisdorf, senior area director for LSS. “This team lives and breathes our person-centered philosophy, and it shows in their everyday work with the people they support.”

Since 1969, the council has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. Today, with 2,300 employees and 8,000 volunteers, Lutheran Social Service helps one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives and build community. Statewide, the organization seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine, and promote health, independence and quality of life for older adults. For comprehensive information about the work of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, visit www.lssmn.org.

Front Row, from left: Deb Koop (LSS), Mary Kay Rizzolo (CQL President & CEO), Katie Hedlund (LSS), Sarah Garczynski (LSS), Joyce Hagen (LSS) and Angie Ealy (LSS).
Back Row, from left: Mark Dubbels (LSS), Angie Collins (LSS) and Piya Chomdokmai (LSS)