“Always be kind.” That’s Meghan Kuechenmeister’s number one rule.
You can see this rule in action as Meghan interacts with her clients and colleagues. Her respect for her fellow human beings has been shaped by a few key individuals in her life. She has a great uncle who has Down’s Syndrome. Meghan recalls his kind and helpful demeanor when she was little. Getting to know him as a young girl helped her appreciate the positive qualities of every individual. “He just laughs all the time and he’s so nice and helpful to everyone. I learned the importance of helping others.”
Another important influence has been Meghan’s husband. He is deaf, and Meghan says through her husband’s life experiences she’s become more mindful of how she treats people who have a disability. “He’s had to deal with people who weren’t always nice. Especially when he was young. He’s accomplished so much.” Meghan’s husband works two jobs and together, he and Meghan are raising their two children.
It’s only fitting that Meghan works in an environment, where she can apply her compassion and sense of empathy. Initially Meghan thought she might be a psychologist and even considered a career in business. But plans change. After graduating from college in Mankato, Meghan moved back to Northfield and needed to find work. “I needed a job for the summer.” I didn’t think it was going to turn into a long-term thing, but I didn’t want to leave.” That was eight years ago. Today, Meghan works full time as a special education teacher with Northfield Public Schools and works part time at LBSA as a Lead Staff at Lincoln House.
She clearly enjoys working at LBSA. “It’s like a family here. I love the everyday interactions. The ladies here brighten my day.” Meghan also appreciates the history and uniqueness of LBSA. “Laura Baker was ahead of her time. I love our history and that we are still thriving.” Meghan says LBSA provides many benefits to their clients and to the community. She highlights helping individuals foster independence and a sense of belonging are especially important. “At the end of the day we’re all human. Everyone should have dreams and goals.”
Although, Meghan speaks highly of her work at LBSA, she says it’s not without challenges. “The biggest struggle is the wage. Almost everyone here has a second job.” She goes on to explain how the low wages lead to staff turnover which can negatively impact clients. “Think of our clients and how much they come to trust us. We work with them every day. It’s hard when staff leave, and new staff come in.” Even so, Meghan is amazed at the resiliency of the clients she works with.
If carrying two jobs and raising two children wasn’t enough, Meghan is now also working on her Master of Teaching degree as well which she hopes to complete in the next two to three years. When asked about her goals for the future, Meghan replied without hesitation. “I want to keep doing what I’m doing.”
As this interview wrapped up one of the residents happened to walk by and told Meghan, “you’re too sweet.”