Sarah Gustafson finds new ways to support people during challenging times

Apr 8, 2020


The COVID-19 crisis seems to have turned everyone’s world upside down and business is definitely not “as usual.” Rise’s team members – employment consultants, direct support professionals, case managers, and others – are finding new ways to support the people we serve during these challenging times.

Denise Coppess was one of our 2019 Rise’ing Stars honored at our Celebrate Rise Fundraising Gala last October. Denise was recognized for her determination and fortitude in establishing a great new career as a financial office support person at Arch Language Network in Little Canada. She found her work interesting and loved that she was continuing to learn and grow in her position. That is, until she was laid off.

Sarah Gustafson, a Rise employment consultant, has been supporting Denise for a couple of years with career planning, job search, and follow-up support services. Unfortunately, in late March, Sarah had to assist Denise in filing for unemployment benefits as only Arch managers are working these days.

“We were hoping that we could get Denise set up so that she could continue to work from home,” said Sarah. “But that didn’t work out so instead, I helped her apply for unemployment. I will continue to keep in touch with her via phone to see how she is doing and ascertain her needs to see how I can continue to support her.”

Sarah keeps in touch with others as well. Lauren Ireland, also a 2019 Rise’ing Star, was working at two jobs that she loved. She cared for young children in the daycare program at the Burnsville YMCA, and was also a part-time ambassador for Finley’s Barkery marketing team, handing out pet treats at grocery stores and special events.

Lauren misses both her jobs, but appreciates Sarah assisting her over the phone and online with filling out important forms so that she can maintain her SSI benefits.

For others, the job search goes on despite the COVID-19 crisis. Sarah continues to work with Aaron Munn and Richard Gottier remotely so they are ready for job interviews when area businesses are back up and running.

Tyler Wollersheim and Rob Flood, two men whom Sarah provides follow-up support services to, are fortunate to still be working. Sarah checks in with them by phone or text as needed to ensure they are doing well, both on the job and personally.

“Rob was just hired at home Depot so there is a lot to learn and questions to be answered when starting a new job,” Sarah pointed out. “I want to make sure he gets off to a great start there and is safe and successful. He’s really excited to be working.”

Sarah is just one of dozens of Rise professionals who are still doing what they can to support people from a distance, making sure their needs are met. Whether they are still working in community businesses, applying for unemployment benefits, or looking forward to the day they are back to work, Rise will do what we can to help keep people safe, healthy, and productive.

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