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Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Reaching a lifelong goal: Humbolt woman gets ordained with help from IVRS


Denise LindemannHelping others has always inspired Denise Lindemann, who found her calling as a chaplain at St. Croix Hospice. Lindemann, a Humboldt resident, was able to finish seminary and get ordained with the support and resources from Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS).

Denise’s favorite aspect of her job is spending time with patients. Her main responsibilities include driving to see patients around the various hospice locations, playing music for them, and just addressing whatever concerns they may have in a difficult transitional period.

“There really is a power of presence,” said Denise.

Prior to contacting IVRS, Denise served as a pastor for a small congregation in North Iowa. Although she enjoyed this job, she worried about her job stability. In order to evolve in her current career and maintain stable employment, she needed to get ordained.

Denise decided she would finish seminary, a feat she struggled with in the past due to a reading disability. Denise applied for services and soon received support to reach her goals. IVRS Supervisor, Brian Warner, began working alongside Denise when she first began receiving services in 2018. He assisted Denise in searching for schools to attend. Notably, Warner used assistive technology and helped Denise convert seminary books into audiobook format to best accommodate her situation.

Seminary books aren’t easy to come by, so they are harder to get on tape. “The big thing was getting the books on the computer so I could listen as well as read. I just found it very helpful,” said Denise.

Sarah Dokken, Mason City rehabilitation associate also worked closely with Denise. They met virtually throughout 2020 and 2021 but eventually had the chance to meet in person. Denise also participated in the Older Workers Employment Program (OWEP), working closely with Marsha Harmonson. OWEP is a division of the Elderbridge Agency on Aging, which provides resources and employment support to older Iowans seeking to join the workforce past the traditional retirement age. Services include vocational assessments, job-seeking skills, job orientations, and more.

IVRS also helped Denise relocate to Humboldt upon getting hired, providing a U-haul truck and other necessary moving services. Warner praised Denise for her willingness to persevere regardless of any setbacks she may have encountered. After seminary, the placement process can take a few years to complete. Ordination is a long process and requires various steps, but in December 2022, Denise finally found her perfect fit at St. Croix Hospice.

“Denise has the perfect temperament for a clergy setting,” said Warner.

“It made me smile knowing we could help her achieve this goal to help better herself.

She got to this place where she was finally happy and just knowing I could be even a small part of that makes me happy,” said Dokken.

“IVRS gave me support and encouragement. They walked with me through this journey,” said Denise.