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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!

 

National Joke Day

it’s National Joke Day and we are definitely celebrating at MRI! Check out some of our favorite jokes and jokesters below.

Knock Knock” “Who’s there” “Who” “Who who?” “Who you!”- Tonya

 

“Why did he throw the alarm clock out the window?” “To see time fly!”

“Where does the vampire keep his money?” “The blood bank!”

“What kind of watch does a witch wear?” “A witch watch!”

– Michael

Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Banana” “Banana who?” “Let’s split!” – Reene

“What did the cow say to the farmer?” “Mooooooooooooove it!”

“How come the alligator couldn’t see where to go?” “He had no glasses!”

“If the red house is on the left and the blue house is on the right, where is the white house?”
Washington, DC!” – Becky

 

Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Hello” “Hello who?” “Hello my hairy leg!” – Greg

 

“Did you hear about the man who stole all the plumbing from the police department?”
The police had nothing to go on!” – Noah

 

“Why is a bad joke like a pencil?” “Because it has no point!” – Morgan

 

 “How do all the oceans say hello to each other?” “They wave!” – Janet

 

Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Apple” “Apple who?” “Do you want a candy apple?” – Chasidee

 

“Susie came home from school and her mom said, ‘what did you learn in school today?’
and Susie said, ‘not enough because they want me to come back tomorrow!'” – Amy

 

The Decatur Craft Beer Festival

The Decatur Craft Beer Festival is back & bigger than ever! This year MRI and the Decatur Area Arts Council (DAAC) are teaming up to bring craft beer back to downtown Decatur.

This year, The Decatur Craft Beer Festival will be Saturday, September 30 from 1-5 pm on N. Water Street outside the DAAC. We’ll have over 100 unique craft beers & ciders, local breweries from across the state, live music and food trucks.

Festival tickets are $25 and include admission to the event, 8 tasting tickets, a souvenir glass, live music and access to the on-site food trucks.

2017’s VIP event ($100 tickets) will be held on Friday, September 29 from 7-10 pm inside the DAAC. At the VIP event, you will find rare and hard to find beers and ciders not available at the festival, delicious hors d’oeuvres, exclusive auction items, a VIP goodie bag and ticket holding lanyard, entrance into Saturday’s festival, double the tasting tickets, souvenir glass and more!

TICKETS ON SALE NOW AT www.decaturcraftbeerfestival.com.

All proceeds stay in the Decatur community by benefitting two local non-profits:
1. MRI (Macon Resources, Inc.) – provides programs and services for over 800 children and adults with disabilities each year
2. Decatur Area Arts Council – introduces and promotes the arts, enhances arts educational opportunities, and increases the impact of and access to the arts to improve the quality of life in the community

Thank you to our major sponsors:
Neuhoff Communications
Decatur Digital Solutions
Busey Bank
Land of Lincoln Credit Union
Wasserbrew
Brechnitz Group of Raymond James
Coziahr Harley-Davidson
Cim-Tek Filtration
Decatur Earthmover Credit Union
Alan & Beth Frigy
Jerger Pediatric Dentistry
Brechnitz Group of Raymond James
First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust Decatur North Water
R.V. Evans Company
Flora Gems
Heckman Healthcare

Talk Time with Rachel – Meet Rodney

Meet Rodney

Rodney is a MRI Day Training participant. This means he spends his weekdays at MRI learning new skills and participating in classes like Sign Language, Music and, his favorite, Bible Study. Rachel interviewed Rodney a few weeks ago and we got to know a few of his favorite things.

Rodney loves cats, in fact, they are his favorite animal! His best friend is fellow Day Training participant and Agency Greeter Lynn. He enjoys running outside and watching TV. Rodney’s favorite color is red, which he expresses through clothing. 

When asked what makes him happy, Rodney answered, “going to church and eating, drinking Pepsi, listening to music and helping others.” 

Something Rodney enjoys that he did not mention is his pen collection. Rodney collects all kinds of pens! He has thousands of working and non working pens in his collection. A few weeks ago, an MRI visitor even donated a large envelope of pens to him! (You can check out that story here.) His favorite pens are Papermates.

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

Volunteer Awards Day

MRI’s ECNO (Empowering Community Networking Opportunities) program gives our clients a chance to give back to the community through volunteer opportunities like delivering Thrive and Decatur Magazine and Meals on Wheels, cleaning MRI classrooms and vans, working at the Good Samaritan Inn, playing games with our SAT (Specialized Adult Services) individuals, stocking supplies at Northeast Community Fund and more.

Once a year ECNO tallies up the total hours each participant has volunteered that year and celebrates. Everyone who volunteers gets an award for their hard work and the top ten participants with the most volunteer hours receive an extra award and a special outing for just those ten members. This year’s special outing is an all day camping trip, complete with lunch cooked over the campfire and swimming at the beach.

This year, the top volunteer was Ryan with 109 hours! His favorite volunteer activity is Meals on Wheels. All together, ECNO volunteered for 1,466.5 hours from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. That’s a lot of hours!

Since all of ECNO is already together, it’s also a great time to celebrate everyone’s birthdays! All ECNO participants vote on their six favorite cake flavors. Then, together they make a grocery list and purchase all the materials needed for the cakes. The day before the celebration, they bake the cakes in one of MRI’s apartment-style classrooms. After the award ceremony, everyone sings happy birthday and eats cake and ice cream! This year’s overwhelming favorite was chocolate lava fudge.

 

 

Check out all of our wonderful volunteers with their awards:

July Employee of the Month

Pamela Cunningham

July Employee of the Month

MRI’s first employee of the month is Pamela Cunningham from our Community Living Services department. Pam works at one of our group homes and was chosen as the winner from a pool of over 40 nominations. Pam’s fellow employees saw her going above and beyond, nominated her for her hard work and then chose her as the winner.

The winning nomination read, “Pam was more than happy to participate in an activity that most employees had no interest in. She also expressed very positive feelings about MRI and the work that she does.”

Pam was surprised at work early Friday morning with a bouquet of candy, balloons and a Starbucks gift card. She also has a reserved parking spot at each of MRI’s three locations.  You can see her reaction in the photo gallery below.

Thanks to all the employees who had such wonderful things to say about the people they work with every day!

#WednesdayWisdom

We asked some MRI clients for a little #WednesdayWisdom. Here’s what we came up with:

 

“Help people out by making them feel better and being there for them.” – Darwin

Also, as we noted in his shirt, “Every little thing is gonna be alright.”

 

 

 

 

 

“Take your time, think it through, and discover life as it is. Learn how to empower yourself.” -Carl

 

 

 

“If a friend is having a bad day just help them out.” -Lorraine

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Sometimes you just need to walk away and take a moment to settle down. Assure your friend that they’re a good person.” -Julieanne

 

 

 

 

 

“When I’m feeling down, I like to do physical activities like swimming, biking, and playing basketball.” -Bob

 

 

 

 

“If you’re having a bad day, make it a good day.  Going on outings, seeing movies, getting out in the community makes me feel better.” -Kenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If you’re having a bad day, talking to a friend about it will help you feel better.” – Greg

 

 

 

 

 

“Something that always makes me feel better is going to church, praying and smiling.” -Rodney

 

 

 

 

 

“When I’m having a bad day, I like to lie down, cool off and have some quiet time.” – Dorothy

 

 

 

 

 

“If someone is having a rough day, cheer them up and feel happy.” -Tonya

“Tell somebody what is bothering you. let them know that we can work it out together.” -Andy

 

 

 

 

“Sticking together with people who are going through the same troubles as you will help you get through anything.” -Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

“If somebody ever needs to talk, they can come talk to me. I’ll make you feel better.” -Shawn

 

 

Program Highlight: Residential Services

The month of July is meant for celebrating independence and freedom, so what better program to highlight this month than MRI’s residential services!

MRI owns and operates nine CILAs (Community Integrated Living Arrangements), or group homes, in the Decatur community. Each home houses four to eight individuals and each individual has their own room. MRI provides 24 hour support staff to assist where needed and in case of emergencies.

CILAs provide adults with disabilities the chance to gain independence by living on their own and learning skills such as personal care, cooking & cleaning and social skills. Each CILA truly is a home for our clients and our staff are just visitors who are there to help.

Brook lives in one of our Mt. Zion area group homes. She loves that she gets to live with her friends, but has her own room all to herself. She enjoys the staff she sees on a daily basis and misses them when they’re gone. One regular staff member is returning from vacation today, so Brook hopes to celebrate when she gets home. Living on her own has allowed Brook to gain new skills, like cooking.

“I love to help staff cook dinner. I especially like to cook spaghetti,” Brook explains.

CILAs allow our clients to enjoy the same freedoms we tend to take for granted, like choosing our next meal or picking out tomorrow’s clothes. This weekend, Brook and two friends are going out to dinner, which she’s been excited about. Without MRI’s support to ensure she can get to dinner and back home, those options wouldn’t be available to her.

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