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Illinois State Capitol Building

Illinois General Assembly’s Budget Impacts MRI Programming

House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have sent the governor a budget that contains a nearly $4 billion shortfall. This is the 12th year in a row that the two leaders have passed an unbalanced budget. It is likely that only the most vulnerable of Illinois citizens will suffer in this annual legislative arm wrestling match. MRI has absorbed a 2.25% cut in funding this year and faces further cuts beginning July 1st including loss of all state funding of the Kid’s Connection and respite programs. This will amount to a $250,000 funding cut.

We have written our local Legislators and Governor. Only the Governor’s office has replied. It would seem now is a good time to fix the problems in Illinois government. They could enact severe cuts, raise taxes or do a little bit of both. What we can do is continue to call their offices and pray the General Assembly will come to their senses.

MRI will continue Kid’s Connection and group based respite on a fee basis. There will be no in home respite services. This will begin on July 1, 2015. I received a memo today from the Department of Human Services advising that some agencies would receive contracts for next year and some would not. Either way the funding will stop until our “leaders” come to agreement.

Dreux Lewandowski, MRI Executive Director

(originally published June 23, 2015)

Man standing in front of wall

Meet Danny

Danny participates in the VISIONS Mental Health Program at MRI.

When Danny came to MRI he lived at a nursing home for adults with chronic mental illness. Since coming to MRI and participating in the VISIONS program, Danny was able to transition to a group home and now lives in his own apartment.

When asked how VISIONS has helped him and how his life has changed in the past couple of years Danny stated, “I have more space to myself in my new apartment and earn money for myself. Working makes me feel better about myself. I do the ambassador program through Chicago Williams Bridge – the moving on program. I am an advocate and go to talk to various people at Decatur Manor and the Heritage Behavioral Health drop in center about improving life skills and where it may bring you. Some of the classes I have taken in the VISIONS program have helped me have the confidence to do that.”

MRI’s VISIONS Mental Health Program aims to provide individualized support and training to promote the growth, independence and self-worth of adults with chronic mental illness. the VISIONS Program, more formally known as the Psychosocial Rehabilitation program, provides vocational training, support and other mental health services to adults with chronic mental illness.

Through VISIONS, Danny has been able to schedule his days around activities he enjoys, get a job and earn money, make new friends and even reach out to others.

Learn more about the VISIONS Mental Health Program.

Boy with bubbles

Meet Kane

Kane SmileKane is  an Independence Pointe Speech/Language Therapy, ABA and Discovery Depot Child Care Center (former) & Kid’s Connection (current) participant

“The staff is very accommodating to Kane’s needs and everyone is invested in his successful milestones. He has made great strides and loves all the staff! Our involvement with Independence Pointe has been a life changer for Kane and for our family. This was one of the best decisions we could have made.”
– Kane’s mother

Hear more about Kane here:

Man working in pet shelter

Meet Carl

Carl is a Homeward Bound Pet Shelter Job Trainee and Day Vocational Training participant

Carl works at Homeward Bound Pet Shelter a few mornings a week through MRI’s job training program.  Through Carl’s job training at MRI Homeward Bound Pet Shelter, he has learned vital job skills such as adapting to change, being on time and following directions.  Carl takes great pride in his work at Homeward Bound and he values the dignity that working has brought him.

Karl at Homeward Bound

Hear directly from Carl about how MRI job training at Homeward Bound has impacted his life:

MRI products available on Etsy

Did you know that you can purchase custom-made license plate signs and other artwork from MRI on Etsy? Help to support the employment of persons with disabilities and #BuyDecatur! Visit our Etsy store today: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaconResources

Shelter dog image

10 Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Dog

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month!  Check out these top 10 reasons to adopt a shelter dog – as if you needed more convincing!


Woman speaking

Shirley Paceley is Project Advisor to National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability

Paceley is one of ten national authors who wrote sections of this article:

“Violence, Abuse and Bullying Affecting People with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities:  A Call to Action for the Criminal Justice Community”

Developed by the Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability

You can access the article at:


Woman doing yoga kissing a cat

Homeward Bound Volunteer-initiated Fundraiser Goes Viral

Yoga4cats, a fundraiser developed by Homeward Bound Pet Shelter volunteer Jeanette Skaluba to promote Adopt-a-Cat Month, has received international attention. The Dodo, Huffington Post, MTV News, The Chive, and Daily Mail.com (based in the UK) have all covered this event that took place at Yoga at Connie’s in Latham, Illinois on Friday, June 5. Fifteen human and six feline yogis participated. The video of the event, filmed and edited by Skaluba, had over 100,000 views on YouTube as of June 18, 2015.

Although Skaluba, supervisor, Microbiology for Meda Pharmaceuticals, made yoga4cats a reality, she gives all of the credit to one senior cat, Oreo, for inspiring her:

I was at HBPS one day and I was visiting with the kitties. Oreo was all over me I thought, THIS is a yoga cat. He sure has a lot of energy – I can’t believe he’s about 12 years old. He needs a promotional video! I soon realized that this can be bigger than that. June is Adopt-a-Cat month – I needed to do something that can benefit the cats in general. Then it hit me – Yoga for Cats! Oreo was my first nominee!

There were a couple cats, including Oreo, that did not come out of their carriers during the yoga session. Skaluba commented on this, explaining, “you can’t make a cat do anything- this is why we love them! I consider a solid 50% cat participation level to be a success. What we ended up with was a very organic and natural interaction of yogis and cats.”

Skaluba, who has practiced yoga with Connie five years and has two senior cats of her own, did not anticipate the event coverage or video to go viral. Combining two of her passions, yoga and finding forever homes for adult shelter cats, Skaluba was merely trying to help a local no-kill pet shelter raise awareness and highlight adoptable cats. Skaluba took the initial concept to Connie, owner of Yoga at Connie’s, as a random idea. Both women love cats. Skaluba hopes the success of this event will begin a trend for shelters and yoga studios everywhere.”

Skaluba chose to give to Homeward Bound Pet Shelter because of the environment cats are in while living in the shelter. She stated, “I think it is awesome that the cats there reside in free roaming rooms. This, combined with the no-kill mission, is why I chose to support HBPS.”

If you missed yoga4cats, you can check out adoptable cats by stopping by the shelter, checking out our YouTube channel, or visiting www.homewardboundpetshelter.com. To find out more information on future yoga4cats events or to get more information on how you can support Homeward Bound Pet Shelter, like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter.