'Super sub' at Mille Lacs disability nonprofit wins statewide award
Rita Cassens is highly versatile, respectful employee of Mille Lacs County DAC, recognized by Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation for ‘Enrichment Focus’
Rita Cassens, a substitute who works across multiple departments at Mille Lacs County DAC, was named for a Direct Support Professional (DSP) Award by the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR). The honor for “Enrichment Focus” recognizes individuals for exemplary work, skills, impact and the “creation and implementation of innovative and proactive services.”
Cassens brings a “person-centered” approach to all that she does, working in the DAC’s production, living skills and community rooms, and providing job coaching for enclaves or work crews in the community, explains Kyrah Nelson with the DAC. “Rita is capable of getting people excited about doing a job that they may not prefer,” said Nelson. “Her attitude, enthusiasm and personal interaction are inspiring.”
The award winner said that she doesn’t think anyone is better than the next person, but that each is special in his or her own way. Sometimes, it can take some time to determine what someone with a disability wants, she explains. Cassens doesn’t walk away, but tries to figure it out.
Building happy lives is at the center of her work plan, and the job offers variety, which she likes. Many participants want to stay at the end of the day, rather than go home, she said. “They enjoy being here, and if they’re happy, I’m happy.”
The award was presented at the MOHR Summer Conference in St. Cloud. MOHR services more than 100 adult day, day training and habilitation, extended employment, and supported employment service providers across the state.
Cassens has a sister, and a niece who attend the DAC, but she has been there longer- for 21 years. She said they all enjoy it.
MOHR members serve more than 26,000 Minnesotans with disabilities. Members are committed to respect for each individual, a person-centered approach and expanding work opportunities. More information is available at mohrmn.org, on Facebook and on Twitter.