Lutheran Social Services

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, with 2,400 employees statewide, recognized 80 honorees with the prestigious 2020 Spirit Award at a special online celebration on Sept. 30.

Honorees from International Falls, who serve as direct support professionals, include:

  • Kylee Christiansen
  • Maddie Fulton
  • Nikki Grover
  • Bailea Lavigne
  • Jenna Maish
  • Rochelle Sjolsvold
  • Peter Sjolsvold
  • Sammy Vacura

The award honors employees who demonstrate outstanding commitment and dedication to the vision and mission of the statewide organization. Honorees are nominated by their supervisors.

"For the Cabinet and me, this is a day we really look forward to," said CEO Patrick Thueson. "We love reading the nominations. The stories of positive energy and extra efforts on behalf of people we support is an inspiration. I am so proud of our honorees’ devotion to our vision and mission."

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. Today, with 2,400 employees and 10,000 volunteers, Lutheran Social Service supports one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives and build community. Statewide, the organization seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine, and promote health, independence and quality of life for older adults. For comprehensive information about the work of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, visit