ARRM Cares Award Winner Alex Kriz

ARRM Cares Award Winner Alex Kriz

Alex being honored at Welcome Place

Alex and Deb in her Vikings themed room

The four people in the house where Alex works, live almost exclusively with physical disabilities and are sometimes a little more reluctant to participate in activities. Circumstances such as weather, prep time, transportation, and accessibility all make getting out of the house difficult, contributing to the reluctance to participate. Age is also a contributing factor, and some individuals have simply been content with hanging out at home watching movies and sports, coloring, and having friends over every now and then. This routine is fine sometimes, but they needed an opportunity to be more active if they wished. This is why I hired Alex three months ago.

Alex was brought on as an Assistant Program Manager and Direct Support Professional specializing in Recreation. During training, we discussed the task of getting the individuals to be more active. I left the direction fairly open ended. The only instruction I gave was to find recreation activities in any area and encourage our individuals to participate. Much to my excitement, Alex took the challenge and ran with it.

Alex has made such a positive impact on the lives of the people he supports.  Our individuals have done more in the past three months than they have in the past three years! Not only has Alex done a great job of finding many activities and events, he has also done a great job in providing a variety. Most importantly, he has a knack for tailoring his search to accommodate the individuals’ interests and desires.

Alex and the people he supports at a Timberwolves game

One of our individuals had been suffering from depression. Alex was able to find new and exciting activities for her to try, along with opportunities to help treat her depression, such as music therapy and volunteer opportunities. Both turned out to be a huge success and has had a positive impact on her life.

A few of our individuals are sometimes reluctant to participate in Hammer activities because of the difference in disabilities. Alex has encouraged them to adapt their mindset, “What’s the hurt in trying?” More often than not, they are pleasantly surprised to find that they not only enjoy the activity but possibly gain a new interest or friendship in the process.

Alex training a person he supports

Both of the guys in the house love music and wrestling. Alex has found local opportunities for them to experience both with staff and other individuals. It seems like there are concerts and events planned every week!

When I hired Alex, I was hoping he would be the enthusiastic breath of fresh air that our house needed. I am happy to say he has accomplished that and so much more. He is a valuable member of our team and has enriched the lives of our individuals, tenfold. Read the Press Release: https://www.hammer.org/about/media-room/arrm-care-award-2016/

Written and submitted by Erin McChesney, Program Manager at Welcome Place.


Watch Erin’s introduction and Alex’s acceptance speech at the award ceremony during the ARRM Conference in Duluth, MN.


  1. Angela Bernhardt

    Congratulations Alex!

  2. Lisa Dongoske

    Alex –congratulations on your 2016 ARRM Cares Award! Erin’s story about you above made me so proud of the commitment you have to those Hammer serves. Thank you for all you do and keep up the great work. We can all learn more through you and how you have opened up so many lives to the world.


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