An Oregon Medicaid Agency Supporting Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Michael Drew Stinson, BSW



Many people have asked me since I started working with I/DD individuals back in October 2005, why I chose this field of Social Work. My reply has pretty much always been the same; “It Chose Me.” I truly believe I was called to work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I have acquired many new friends and have built incredible relationships with many individuals I have worked with. In fact, the first two clients/individuals I started working with in this field, are with our Agency today.

I started out working part time as an “Independent Contractor” (IC), now referred to as a personal support worker (PSW). I started by teaching individuals basic budgeting just a few hours a week. Before I knew it, I was teaching skills like cooking, health and fitness, finding and keeping safe and permanent housing, to mention a few.  The list of things I was helping individuals with only grew dramatically from there. I often worked with adults with challenging behaviors, since no one else wanted to work with those who were not “fun”. This helped me develop amazing patience and very strong personal and professional boundaries. The part-time work morphed in to full time work, but was flexible enough that it allowed me to earn my bachelor degree in social work from Concordia University in NE Portland in 2009.

Over my many years, I have developed many important skills that have helped me become the person I am; skills as an active listener, non-judgmental advocate, and a love of having fun while working with people. I love the outdoors and all the activities that can be explored in the Metro area, especially the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood area.

In 2015, my best friend, Rex Goode and I joined together to build ARISE Mentors, LLP so that we can share our passion for advancing the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities with others.

We love teaching our employees how to get results and be stellar support professionals. We strive to instill in them the same craving to provide quality assistance to those we serve. The work can be both challenging and rewarding, and those two things naturally go together. To do this work requires more than just being a nice person with a desire to serve. There are naturally ethics, boundaries, and the inevitable paperwork. We teach all of these things so that our workers can provide the best possible support to our customers.

My education and past work experience is vast. Besides my bachelor degree from Concordia, I have an associate of applied science in Criminal Justice from Portland Community College and graduate certificate from paralegal school.  I spent a majority of my “Pre-Social Work” career doing manual labor. Most of that time was spent either working in construction or as a warehouse worker. I have been a reserve police officer/sheriff deputy along with interning with an attorney who specialized in criminal law along with estate planning/probate law. I have continued to educate myself in many Oregon Rights laws, but have a passionate love of The US Constitution, especially The Bill of Rights.

My interests include about anything that involves a “Swissie” (Greater Swish Mountain Dogs) and the serenity in enjoying the beautiful Oregon Coast AND the incredible forested areas right around the Metro area. Besides golf in the summer and bowling in the winter, my real passion is woodworking. In my down time, if I’m not on the golf course, I am usually trying to complete one of many woodworking projects. Most of all I love spending time with my family. My children and grand children are the most important part in my life. My taste in movie genre is vast, but about anything covering history, especially the freedoms we have in this great country based on the sacrifices of the many men and women who served in the armed forces.

I believe the best way to appreciate the joy that working with I/DD customers, along with all the challenges both customers and employee face while providing skills training, is to spend time with customers working one or two days a week.

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