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Smiling, he says, “Yep, I’ve trained him in.” The speaker in this case, was not one of our Reach staff members, referring to someone receiving our services, but the other way around. The service recipient had recently been reassigned to a new staff member, and was joking about how he was getting this other man up to speed for their working relationship. That’s often how these situations play out.

Reach’s Community Living Department Program Manager, Larissa Beck, takes great pride in how we personally customize each of the matches between staff members and those we serve. Even when she is interviewing someone for a position, she is already brainstorming which people this potential staff member could best help.

Larissa says is not just about aligning personalities and lifestyles—recognizing if people are serious versus silly, active versus sedentary, etc., but rather, several factors are in play. Sometimes a staff member may have a certain strength that can be beneficial for someone else, such as budgeting, cooking, or fitness skills, so working together might offer the best results for these goals. Larissa also takes into account when employees want to expand their career knowledge. For instance, if someone on her team wants to learn more about county assistance, she will set them up to work with an individual who is particularly active with these services. Or if a staff member would like to know more about mental health conditions or medical assistance, Larissa can pair them with someone whose circumstances can give them a better understanding of these topics.

Regardless, the service recipient’s best interest is always top priority, and an appropriate match is not something Larissa takes lightly. “I’ll move things around to make that happen,” she says, explaining that re-assignments might take place in order to fulfill these win-win relationships.

Three people at table smiling

Jan, Terry, and Aly (l-r) reviewing some paperwork together.

One couple that receives our services is Terry and Jan. They were re-assigned to Aly not long ago and feel that the transition process went very smoothly. Aly’s exceptional organizational skills is the perfect fit for Terry and Jan, as she helps them keep track of their many appointments and commitments. “She cares a lot,” says Terry. In fact, referring to everyone she supports, Aly shares, “I check in on them like they are my own family,” explaining, “Not having any family in Minnesota, it’s nice to have people to visit who are excited to see me.”

Aly appreciated the ease of beginning with those she supports. “We clicked so well right off the bat.” While Larissa has previously arranged the duos herself, new team leads in her department are now taking over this responsibility. One of the leads, Hailey, recently designed a template that is used when initially meeting with someone new to our services. Discussion topics include areas of development the person wants to focus on, along with their learning style, likes/dislikes, family members, and more.

These intentional efforts to match up service recipients and Reach workers will keep the relationships “clicking.” And if it also means that those we support take the lead on “training someone in,” that’s just fine with us!