People and Places

People and Places

Direct support professionals honored for great work

Recipients of the 2021 Direct Support Professional (DSP) Award include Jay Storlie of Epic Enterprises of Northfield, and Daniel Hedstrom Jr. of MSS of Oakdale. Two other winners were being honored after Access Press deadline and will be featured in a future issue.

Hedstrom is not only a dedicated support professional, he is also a jack of all trades and a talented artist. Hedstrom received DSP honors for the metro area “Enrichment Focus” category. The DSP Award for “Enrichment Focus” recognizes individuals for exemplary work, skills, impact and the “creation and implementation of innovative and proactive services” for people with disabilities.

Chief among Hedstrom’s recent accomplishments are his exemplary work ethic and diligent assistance to MSS, which collectively created remote programming during the pandemic closure, said MSS Program Supervisor Fawn Beckman.

“Dan has been positive, creative, ambitious, courageous, dependable, sympathetic and much more,” said Beckman. Art and music have been a focus at MSS. She pointed out Hedstrom’s experience and wealth of knowledge in those areas.

A drummer for 16 years and student of great bands, Hedstrom brings other artistic experience to MSS, which specializes in such programming. He works in pen and ink, charcoal and sculpting.

For online gatherings of people with disabilities served by MSS, Hedstrom stayed as positive as possible. Hour long Zoom meetings with 15 to 20 individuals happened frequently. “Being over-zealously goofy created a moment of getting away from the news and being in the present, laughing together,” he said. “Laughing together through a screen was all that mattered.”

Hedstrom’s approach lifted people’s emotional and mental wellbeing to keep thriving during difficult times, Beckman said. His ideas in the art world established a sense of safety, inclusion and fulfilled the social desires that MSS individuals with disabilities were seeking.

“Being able to facilitate my passion and having the chance to teach it is the most radical feeling to have,” said Hedstrom. He has seen people grow and progress in their life skills and have fun, which he called “extremely rewarding.”

Jay Storlie

Epic Enterprise job coach Storlie brings lived experience with disability as he supports others to maintain employment. He has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around. Storlie was honored by MOHR for Greater Minnesota Employment Service and his exemplary work, skills, impact and the “creation and implementation of innovative and proactive services” for people with disabilities.

“Being a disabled person myself, I get how the next person feels,” Storlie said. “Because my life’s been all about change … and I thought, ‘well, maybe I could help somebody else to overcome their needs, as well.”

After working in a cabinet shop for 17 years and running a woodworking business at home, Storlie came to Epic Enterprise four years ago with a desire to help others with disabilities. His focus is to learn as much as the individuals with disabilities do, and they can figure it out together, said Epic Enterprise Executive Director Linda Hibbard.

Job coaches accompany individuals with disabilities on the job, teach soft skills, interact with managers and provide other assistance. Hibbard said the job coach pays close attention to each person and learns how to provide supports for their independence and success.

One employer said Storlie holds himself to a high standard and an even higher one for the employees he’s serving.

Storlie’s introduction to the field resulted from a desire to get out of his woodshop. “I can get out and make a difference in somebody else’s life as well as my own, actually,” he said. Storlie still does some woodworking in his free time.

Human service work is all about patience, he said. It’s better to sit back and analyze a situation before jumping in, the job coach explains. He’s also seen how people with disabilities change the lives of others in work settings. Social skills increase, there’s camaraderie and people look forward to going to work.

MOHR represents about 100 disability service providers across the state. Members are committed to respect for each individual, a person-centered approach and expanding work opportunities. More information is available at mohrmn.org.