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Meet Michel

Michel, a VISIONS participant, has been coming to MRI for about three months now. Referred to MRI by Decatur Manor, Michel spends his days in group, working in license plates and greeting his new friends. He comes in a little later than most because he leads the morning meeting at the Brick House Foundation, the sober living home where he currently resides.

Not only does Michel live there, but he is also a resident manager. This means he provides support for a lot of the new residents. Michel assists their recovery by teaching them about structure, which is a skill many recovering from addiction need help with. He establishes chore schedules, organizes legal papers and filing, attends legal matters, like drug court, with fellow housemates and assists with general life skills such as scheduling and keeping appointments. Basically, if there is an issue, anyone in the house can come to Michel for help resolving it.

So how has MRI helped Michel? I mean, it sounds like he’s got it all together! That’s easy, “MRI is stability for me,” he explains. Whenever he runs into issues such as trying to refill his necessary medication, he knows he can always call Lisa, his MRI case manger, and she will help. Most recently, Michel knew he needed more help than he was able to receive. He needed to admit himself to the hospital, but he was worried he would lose his job at MRI. He called Lisa and was relieved to hear her say, “I understand. See you when you get out!”

Michel was shocked. “Any other employer would have fired me for missing work, but Lisa understood.” Michel was able to get the help he needed and return to his job, which was still here for him. “Being able to have a job and contribute, that’s important to me,” says Michel. “That’s what makes or breaks my self esteem.”

Michel is just one of the many adults who attend MRI daily. Click here to learn more about MRI’s VISIONS Mental Health program.

Talk Time with Rachel – Meet Janet Smith

Meet Janet Smith

Janet Smith is an employee here at MRI.

What Janet likes best about herself is her strength, independence, and happiness because it takes a strong person to be able to appreciate a lot things in life.

Janet is a big fan of the arts! Some of her favorite movies are Precious and Pursuit of Happiness! Her favorite singers are Keshia Cole and Mary j. Blige. When she’s in the car she loves to listen to Hip Hop and Rap because it puts her in a good and happy mood. She’s also quite creative herself! Janet enjoys making key chains!

Janet considers her daughter her best friend and she loves spending time with her. Playing games with her daughter is one of her favorite things to do because it adds to their quality time. Spending time with her daughter helps Janet make sure that her daughter is having fun and creating quality memories!

What Janet likes best about her job is the clients and the daily challenges because you just never know what’s going to happen! It keeps the job exciting!

If Janet could go anywhere in the world, she would love to see Africa. She would love to see the difference of how she lives versus the way people in Africa live and see if it’s really how people describe it!

Read more Talk Time with Rachel interviews on the blog! Unsure what Talk Time with Rachel is? Check out our first segment.

Talk Time with Rachel – Meet Dolores

Meet Dolores

Dolores, MRI Day Training participant, is one of our most awesome and unique individuals! When Dolores is not here at MRI she enjoys spending time on the computer and collecting baby dolls and ink pins. Dolores also loves listening to music in her free time, with Bruno Mars being her favorite singer. She also loves movies and television! Her favorite movie to watch is Look Who is Talking Now and her favorite TV show is Leave it to Beaver! Dolores is also a big fan of Chinese cuisine! Yum!! One of Dolores’s favorite games to play is the card game Uno! That’s definitely a fun one!

Dolores is also a lover of animals, with dogs being her favorite! If she had a dog she would name it George!

When asked about what she likes about her case manager at MRI, Dolores said that, “I think that my case manager is nice to me and she makes me happy.” She also had to say about her group leader that, “She makes me happy and she is funny too!”

What she really likes about MRI is the music class and that MRI gives her an opportunity to make some money.

When asked about being able to travel anywhere she wished, Dolores says she would love to go to Florida! She would love to be in Florida swimming in the water!

Overall, Dolores sees herself as a nice and funny individual and we all think so too!

Read more Talk Time with Rachel interviews on the blog! Unsure what Talk Time with Rachel is? Check out our first segment.

United Way Giving Campaign!

Monday, October 23rd – Friday, November 3rd is the Internal Giving Campaign over here at MRI!

MRI is a United Way agency, which means that MRI receives funding through United Way. United Way funds go towards our speech & language therapy programs here at MRI! 

Each Fall MRI participates in United Way’s Giving Campaign. This campaign consists of organizations and companies throughout Decatur participating in various fundraising campaigns! 

At MRI however, we do our campaign internally, so instead of raising money for an outside organization, the money we raise goes directly to MRI! For two weeks at MRI we have  a little “Homecoming week” where we rally our MRI members to get them excited and eager to donate through various fun activities! 

We kicked off our campaign with a relay race involving selected directors from our many departments! 

Our relay started off with team members competing in a three legged race!

Once they crossed the finish line for the three legged race, the teams tag teamed into a Egg Walk!

After the Egg Walk racers passed their finish line, the next event was the silly Doughnut Race, in which opposing teams were tasked to eat a doughnut on a string without the use of their hands! This one posed most challenging, but also the most entertaining to watch! Yum!







Once the doughnuts were eaten in their entirety, additional team members had to tie a tissue box filled with ping pong balls to their waist and shake their hips until all of the balls spilled out from the box! Having the best dance moves definitely helped with this one!








Before the final relay, teams had to pass a balloon to each member of the team using only their neck!! Sometimes these tasks are a lot easier said than done!

Once every task was completed, the first team to sit on the balloon and pop it wins!
The relay was great fun for our clients and for the staff at MRI!

The week of Monday, October 30th – Friday, November 3rd we have our Dress Up days for the campaign! 

Monday, October 30th – MRI Monday
Let’s kick off the week with some MRI spirit!

Tuesday, October 31st – Halloween!!
Show us your best trick or treating costume!

Wednesday, November 1st – Wacky Wednesday
How wacky can you be!? The crazier the better!

Thursday, November 2nd – Throwback Thursday
Throw it back to the past by dressing to fit in your favorite decade!

Friday, November 3rd – Fan Day Friday
What are you a fan of? A sports team? A TV show? Show your pride!

So… How is MRI raising money internally?

MRI has offered several fun ways for staff to participate in the Internal Giving Campaign! Some of the many ways include..

Free MRI Stainless Can Cooler OR Tumbler
Free MRI stainless steel can cooler to everyone who pledges $1 or more per paycheck. Free MRI Stainless steel Tumbler to everyone who pledges $5 or more per paycheck.

Guess How Many
Stop by the reception area at any location before Thursday, November 2nd to guess how many pieces of candy corn are in the jar for your chance to win the candy AND points for your department!

MRI Treasure Hunt
Do you see something out of the ordinary lurking around any of the three MRI locations? Keep an eye out for a treasure map to follow from Tuesday, October 24th to Friday, October 27th!

Door Decorating Contest
Donate $5 to decorate your office door. Volunteer Judges will choose a winner on Wednesday, November 1st. Doors must be decorated by Monday, October 30th.

Scarecrow Contest
Week one: create and decorate your scarecrow. Week two: voting begins! Bring your spare change to vote for the best scarecrow! The one with the most money in it’s jar by Thursday, November 2nd WINS!

Duct Tape the Director(s)
Be sure to turn in your pledge sheets by Thursday, November 2nd. The director(s) of the department with the largest percentage turned in gets duct taped to the wall! Keep an eye out for ways to earn points for your department throughout the campaign!

What’s great about donating internally is that at the end of the campaign we get to choose which specific programs get the donations! 

Welcome to Speech Club at MRI!

Every Wednesday at 1:00 pm meets our Speech Club! Each week our participants are given a new topic to discuss to help our clients practice their speaking skills! Speech Club is full of all sorts of fun and surprises! Each week the participants bring a punch card with them. With each attendance they get 1 hole punch and they get an additional hole punch if they decide to speak. Once the punch card is filled, that participant gets a surprise! 


Speech Club isn’t just about speaking! It’s also a place for fun & games!! Here we can see our speech group learning about the fundamentals of volleyball! That weeks speech topic was all about SPORTS!

Some of the speech topics discussed in the past include: 

  • This is how you play my favorite sport
  • If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
  • Who is your hero and why?
  • What animal would you like to be for one day and why?
  • What are your favorite things about fall?And so many more!!


Each week we have a guest speaker that joins us! Our guests can be anyone! We’ve had guests that were staff at MRI, family members of staff, other clients, just about anyone that would like to guest speak is more than welcome! Some of our guest speakers teach our participants how to be formal, what to wear and how to address a formal audience and then some of our other speakers are more relaxed and just sit down with us with a conversation or demonstration. 

Each week we have about 10-12 individuals that participate in Speech Club. 

Some of our weekly participants include.. 

  • Andy Richards- soft spoken but very intelligent and creative.
  • Angie Belue- very sweet and funny but isn’t afraid to tell you how it is
  • Shawn Williams- the best listener in class! Always respectful to the individual speaking.
  • Caleb Wagner- Caleb brings the laughter and stories to class.
  • Brook Wells- without Brook, speech club wouldn’t be nearly as fun and lively. Brook is always there for someone if they’re struggling with a topic or having a hard time speaking about something.
  • Tonya Hardison- always very excited about speech each week!
  • Jill Bell- the bubbliest person you’ll ever meet. Always smiling and spreading a smile on other’s faces.
  • Matt Gregory- also very excited about our weekly meetings, always willing to share a story or experience with the club.
  • Lynn Heath- Lynn is very in tune with all safety precautions. She is very cautious and informative.
  • Dorothy Reed- You can always count on Dorothy for a good laugh and a sweet compliment. She enjoys speech club and enjoys socializing with her peers.

Joining Speech Club is SUPER easy! 

Contact Kelsie: (875-8800)                                                        Contact Melanie: (875-8850)


CAPS and the motorcycles!

MRI’s CAPS program allows our day training individuals to learn more about the community they live in by volunteering and exploring local places. CAPS also allows members of the community to interact with individuals with developmental and physical disabilities and to see they are a person just like everyone else.

Today, our CAPS members took some time in between bowling and lunch to go visit Harley Davidson and check out some motorcycles!

Check that out!! Talk about an awesome day at Harley-Davidson!!

Look at that awesome CAPS group!! Thank you so much Harley-Davidson for having us today!!

MRI Creative Writing Class presents “Beneath the Mask” !

At MRI we offer a vast array of fun and interesting programs for our clients to utilize and explore. This week we would like to take a look at our Creative Writing Class!

So what exactly is the Creative Writing Class? It is a special writing class available to any and all interested in the art of creative writing! The class currently consists of about 6 regular members, but any and all are always welcome! The class is typically given a topic or prompt and then given free rein to express themselves however they want!

This month our Creative Writing Class has taken on the theme of “Beneath the Mask” with their writings. The theme “Beneath the Mask” gives the members of the Creative Writing Class an opportunity to talk about the metaphorical “masks” that they wear to hide themselves from the world around them.








Meet Renee Krause! Reene Krause loves art, knitting and arts & crafts in general so it’s no wonder she would be apart of our Creative Writing team! Renee likes to write to express her feelings and to show everyone how she feels. Renee is a very creative individual with a large heart to show it!












Chris Batchelder is another one of our awesome Creative Writing team members! Chris is a 29 year old that enjoys spending his time blacksmithing, woodworking, and sewing! Wow!! Chris likes to write because he gets to put his feelings into words.












Another one of our AWESOME Creative Writing members is Katy Batchelder! Katy is 35 years old and loves to sing and dance and has also done her share of acting! Writing helps Katie with expressing herself when she’s having trouble elaborating on her feelings. She is a very unique individual and she has so much to be proud of!












Karina Hayes is another one of our talented Creative Writing team members! Karina is 22 years old and she loves music, dancing, working, and hanging out with her boyfriend. Karina likes to write because it allows her to relieve any stress she might when she’s under any sort of pressure. She loves using music as a means to calm herself down too! Karina is very nice and downright awesome!












We here at MRI are always excited to see what our Creative Writing Class is working on and we’re all very excited to see what’s next for them!

MRI Named Non-Profit of the Year

Each year, the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce holds an awards luncheon to celebrate local organizations making a positive impact in our community. This year, MRI was named Non-Profit of the Year. MRI’s Executive Director Amy Bliefnick and MRI Day Training participant Karina Hayes accepted the award on behalf of all staff and individuals served.

September 21st was a great day for MRI, and more specifically for everyone who makes this organization what it is. On that day, MRI was recognized by the Decatur Chamber of Commerce as the Non-Profit Organization of the Year.

While I was honored to publicly accept this award, I feel it’s important to note that I did so on behalf of countless individuals whose influence over many years has led us to where we are now.

MRI did not happen overnight. Years of strong leadership from former Executive Directors Kay Scrogin and Dreux Lewandowski, as well as many past and present Board members, have been the driving force behind the agency’s growth and excellence. Our staff – which is over 250 strong – takes each day as an opportunity to show compassion and inspire others to do the same.

And let’s not forget the support this organization receives from the businesses, civic and social organizations, and leaders of Decatur and Macon County. In my opinion, this is the greatest community anywhere, and we’re fortunate to call it home.

Finally, I have to acknowledge the most important contributor to MRI’s success – our clients, both past and present. I want to thank them, their parents, family, and guardians for allowing us the privilege of being a part of their lives. For myself, and every member of our staff, there is no greater joy than to play a role in their continued success. They are the reason for everything we do.

Again, September 21st was a great day for MRI. And, we can’t wait for many more!

Amy Bliefnick
MRI Executive Director


August Employee of the Month

Mia Jarrett

August Employee of the Month

Another month, another employee of the month! In August, MRI’s Case Management Administrative Aid Mia Jarrett went above and beyond the normal call of duty. Mia was nominated because, “she was asked to devote three hours of her day doing something that was crucial in keeping our clients safe and she was happy and willing to help. She volunteered with the best attitude and a smile on her face. Her every day attitude makes me proud to work at the same place as her.

Mia’s nomination was unanimously chosen from a pool of over 50 nominations! Thanks for all your hard work, Mia. We appreciate all you do for MRI!

This month, we had nominations from employees, individuals and even parents! At least one person from each department was nominated. Thank you to everyone who went above and beyond this month AND a huge thank you to those who noticed!


Tie Dye Tuesday

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for tie dye! Sonya’s Day Training group spent Monday and Tuesday tie dying t shirts to wear to the client conference in September. First, we had to twist and wrap all the T shirts.

Next, Karina helped Sonya spray each shirt so it was damp. Then it was time for the fun part: dying them! Everyone got to choose their own colors. The trick is to soak them with dye so it dries really bright. Matt used so many colors, Karina had to step in the help.

Once the shirts were dyed, they went in a grocery bag to sit for 8 hours. Today, they will be washed, dried and, the best part, worn!


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