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An Extraordinary Caregiver at Chaparral

One Direct Support Professional’s Journey to Retirement at Phoenix

When Sandy Mishler joined Phoenix, she never imagined herself staying so long—she was only looking for a part-time job.  But her love for the individuals is what kept her here all these years and the reason she recently retired from The Phoenix Residence.

“Sandy is incredibly invested in the guys at Chaparral and is a big advocate for them,” said Vice President of Community Services Alan Berner. “It always came back to the guys and what’s best for them.”

In 2008, Mishler and her husband had been working for an organization called LEW, Inc., when The Phoenix Residence acquired the home they had been working in. The families from that home had requested a new provider, and who better to take it over than The Phoenix Residence? Mishler insisted on working with the same guys, stating they needed that stable care and support—and she knew them the best after all.

“Sandy was instrumental during that transition time,” Berner said. “She helped us learn about the guys she had been working with for so long—what worked and what didn’t work based on her experiences.”

And that’s exactly what they needed—someone who was consistently there while everything else was changing, including new managers and deaths of family members.

Not only did they need that consistency, but their families did as well. She built strong relationships with the family, especially with David’s mom, Sue. “They trusted her a lot with David’s care,” Berner said.

10 Years Later

These days, that dedication and loyalty to the individuals and Phoenix as a whole is stronger than ever.
“We joke with her that she’s the grandmother of the house,” said Program Manager Kim Hansen. “But honestly, she’s very welcoming and almost like a mother to these guys.”

Not only did she enjoy cooking and cleaning, but she’s was very organized as well, whether planning medical appointments or the day’s schedule. On top of that, she attended many company-wide events, including Halloween parties and outings with the guys.

“Sandy Mishler makes a difference every day she works with the guys,” said her colleague Laurie Case, who nominated her for The Phoenix Residence’s Person-Centered Award at the Holiday Party. “She always goes the extra mile [to] make sure she knows their needs, like weight goals, and helps them to maintain these goals.”

And Mishler’s dedication has inspired her coworkers as well. “Sandy’s mentoring of others has affected all staff to do a better job,” Case said. “Sandy does this every day by her love and care for the guys, [and] it helps others advocate for their needs [as well].”

After retirement, Mishler will continue to sell her Avon products and volunteer at Fort Snelling. She will stay on as a reserve staff member for The Phoenix Residence.

Thank you for all you’ve done for The Phoenix Residence Sandy! We wish you the best in the future!


In honor of Sandy's tenure at Phoenix, we held a Going Away Party to thank her for her dedication to the organization and our individuals.
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