Mission, Vision, Values Quarter Two Award Winner: Lisa L. from Rochester, MN!

IMG_0125

Congratulations to our third Mission, Vision, Values Quarter Two Award Winner in Supported Employment: Lisa Lundquist! Lisa is an Employment Specialist in Rochester, MN. We will be highlighting the MVV winners in monthly newsletters and Shared Stories throughout the year so we can get to know these amazing representatives of our organization! Learn more about Lisa through our interview with her below.


 

How long have you been working at Opportunity Services?  5 years!

Have you held other jobs at Opportunity Services besides your current position?  No, I’ve always been an Employment Specialist, but when I began in this position, the job included job development; now, it’s mostly job coaching.

What other companies/ jobs have you worked at in the past?  I have always worked for not-for-profits.  I spent 25 years in the Girl Scouts, 2 years at Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and one year at United Way.

Why do you work for Opportunity Services?  I love making a difference in people’s lives.  A job is so important for self-worth, not to mention being able to be independent.  Really, life starts when one has a job.

What five words best describe you? Sister.  Reader.  Dogs.  Funny.  Passionate.

Why do you work in the disability field? Did you always know you wanted to work with disabled individuals?  No, I didn’t know I wanted to work in this field.  In fact, my mom did work in this field in the school system in my hometown, and I couldn’t understand how she could do it.  I thought that my heart would break being around people with disabilities.  I thought I’d be so sad.  She said it isn’t like that at all, and of course, she’s right.  (I wish I could tell her, but she died 10 years ago).  I don’t feel sorry at all for the clients.  It’s a part of who they are, just like my brown eyes are a part of me.  One of my clients said, “these are the cards I was dealt.”  I feel that most of my clients take their disability in stride, and don’t dwell on it too much.  They focus on what they can do, not the very few things they can’t.

I feel honored, and humbled to work with these amazing people…they have taught me so much.  This is why I work in this field, and feel so lucky that I do.  I didn’t know, before coming to OS, what jobs there were working with people who have disabilities.  I feel so blessed to have landed where I did.  I love my co-workers, and can hardly wait to get to work after vacations to find out who got a job, and how things are going.  I am always happy to walk in the door of our office.

Do you have any personal connection to disabilities? A very close friend in Illinois had/has a persistent and severe mental illness. Several of her friends became surrogate parents to her daughter during her periods of hospitalization.  However, it did not occur to me (this was probably 15 years ago), that her mental illness was classified as a disability.

Why are you deserving of this MVV award?  I never thought I was!  I just knew I had to get Wade to work, if it was within my power. 

What’s your favorite thing about Opportunity Services?  The people: the clients and the staff! And I love, and am VERY grateful, for the fantastic benefits provided to the staff.  There are very few places that provide health insurance at no cost to the employee.  And the 403B plan is so great.

Do you have any clients that have changed your perspective about people with disabilities?  All of them!  But then, I don’t know that I really had a perspective on those with disabilities. 

What would you say to someone that doesn’t believe people with disabilities can function as a member of society?  I’d tell them about 50 stories about people who do function, and function quite well, in society.  We need all of us to make this world work, and those with disabilities are just like everybody else, but they have it a bit harder than some of us.  And many of them handle their challenges with extreme grace.

Do you have any advice for other employees at Opportunity Services?  Be sure to revel in the successes: clients getting jobs, clients getting fantastic performance appraisals, clients getting promoted.  We do such great things (or, at least, we are in the background of great things happening), and we need to remember these joyous moments when the frustrations arise (and they will).

What do you like to do for fun in your free time? I am a mom of two Labrador Retrievers.  I adopted them four years ago. Mya is 8 and Opal is 9.  They are such great dogs; they came already trained and they are very well behaved, unlike the dogs that went before them.  Annie was my first lab, then Lily, then these two.

I’m a huge reader, mostly of murder mysteries.  In fact, I go to the World Wide Crime Fiction Convention every year.  I meet the authors of my favorite books, have them autograph the books, get my picture taken with the authors…it’s tons of fun.  I am writing my own murder mystery, and have started the last chapter, so I’m almost finished.  I belong to the Rochester Writers’ Group, and they like the book.  I hope to get it published by a reputable publishing house (but if that doesn’t happen, I can always self-publish). 

I have a group of friends that I travel with every summer.  These ladies have been traveling together for over 30 years; I’ve been with them for about 15 years.  I’m lucky they let me in!  We mostly head north, to northern MN or northern Michigan, but one year we went to Yellowstone.

 I have a sister and a brother.  My sister is a teacher here in Rochester, and my brother owns his own powered paramotor business up in Alexandria.