Mark Magnuson is a friendly guy with a personality that immediately puts you at ease. He grew up in Stoddard, WI, and graduated with a degree in Social Work from Winona State University. He is married to Krista and has three boys: Landon, 6; Caleb, 3; and Gabriel; 1. Let’s not forget their dog, Leroy, a Lab-Golden Doodle mix.
Mark is a program coordinator and has worked at HCO since 2013. He supervises two homes, 604 and Woodland Hills Drive, which currently house a total of nine men. Mark’s reason for choosing a social work career is simple. “If I have to work 40 hours a week somewhere, it should be doing something worthwhile,” he says.
In school, his professor suggested to his students that they choose a position that they thought they wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their lives doing for their first field experience Despite his professor’s advice, Mark loved his field experience at ORC so much he continued working there after graduation. The decision worked out well for Mark, and he was later encouraged to join HCO when a position as a Primary Counselor at one of HCO’s homes opened up.
Mark’s duties include hiring staff, training, scheduling, coordinating things such as medical appointments, taking care of any behavioral problems, and working on yearly goals for the men in his programs. He loves interacting with them, but his supervisory, documentation, and scheduling responsibilities often means he doesn’t get to spend as much time with the guys he supports as he would like. The relationships are why he stays in social work and he admits he is a natural caretaker.
Caretaking skills are what he looks for in the staff he hires, as well. He says he looks for people who truly enjoy taking care of others. If he can get the right people when they are early in their college careers as special education or social work majors, he has good luck keeping them until graduation. It’s a great job, he says. You get to go for walks, go have coffee. “If I can keep someone long enough to have ice cream with one of the guys, I’ve got him hooked!” he says.
Finding employees is a challenge, though, and HCO needs more staff. Mark says that he heard someone say they should be trying to recruit retired people for the job, as HCO offers a great deal of flexibility in hours. He thinks that’s a great idea and would welcome the opportunity to work with people with life experiences.
Challenges that come with the job are dealing with behavior issues and working with the different personalities in a home. He approaches the job with the mindset that the person he is caring for may want to live alone in the future, and he must figure out what that person would need in order to do that. Of course, he says, that is not always a realistic assumption, but it works to help people reach their full potential.
Mark is a great fan of HCO. His direct boss is Paula Krage, whom he says is great. He loves the organization because “they always put individuals first, and that never changes. It’s always about the people.”