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Impact Story: Meet Lawrence


Meet Lawrence! Lawrence has received services from MRI for the past 16 years. Everyone who has ever interacted with or heard Lawrence’s story will tell you he has overcome a life-time’s worth of obstacles and has so much to be proud of. MRI is so happy and proud to share Lawrence’s story of becoming independent and living on his own!

When asked about Lawrence, Dominic, Lawrence’s Case Manager, who was his CDS group leader at the time in 2009, shared that when he was born, him and his twin sister were put into the foster care system. Lawrence only knew his twin for a year before they were separated. Growing up not knowing his family created a bitterness inside of Lawrence that made him very weary and distrusting of people. He has had a life-long dream of living independently, however, his attitude was the number one obstacle blocking him from accomplishing his dream.

Nonetheless, as time went on MRI staff, like Dominic, continued to show him love, care, and support that eventually broke down the walls of distrust and bitterness surrounding him. Once he realized that he was loved, valued, and supported, he gained the confidence and ability to interact and communicate with the people who wanted to help make his dreams come true. We asked Lawrence what motivated him to become independent and he told us that he wasn’t thriving in an environment where he lived with others and realized he would be much happier living on his own.  In order to equip Lawrence with the tools needed to successfully live on his own, he was coached and took classes at MRI that taught him household skills, health maintenance, and money management. With the support of his MRI staff, Lawrence was able to take small steps each year towards accomplishing his goal.

Lawrence lived in our Main Street group home for 10 years before moving into an apartment of his own in 2020.

We were told that there was concern that Lawrence would have trouble keeping up with cleaning based on his cleaning habits in the group home. However, when we visited him in his apartment it was immaculate, and yet he was still concerned that it wasn’t clean enough! Likewise, Lawrence had his own concerns about living on his own. At some point earlier in his life he was traumatized by a house fire that electrocuted his brother, and was fearful that something similar would happen in his apartment. In order to overcome this obstacle, he began taking cooking and safety group classes. At first he was quiet and unwilling to participate in class, but now he is interacting and comfortable learning to cook new things. Lastly, being independent and responsible for his own place has taught Lawrence money discipline like the importance of saving, and the difference between wants and needs. Before he lived on his own, he struggled with controlling his spending urges but now he has a savings and his own debit card. Not only is he saving money, but he’s saving money to learn more about and to reconnect with his family.

“My dream is to become my own guardian and to move to Chicago to be with my family.” -Lawrence

While visiting him, Lawrence also told us that his dream is to become his own guardian and to move to Chicago. Over the past few years, he has gathered information about his family with the help of his Direct Support Professional staff member, Cathy. He even got to go to Chicago with her and meet his family for the first time. Dominic also played a large role by providing him support and building his self-esteem by reminding him that he is valuable and worthy of knowing his family. While discovering his family, he became aware that he had another sister who passed away due to an illness. To honor her, Lawrence saved money to be able to get a tattoo on his arm in remembrance of her. He also has a tattoo of his parents! Furthermore, he had recently purchased his mother, father, and sister’s death certificates and is now looking into his parent’s marriage license. Family is tremendously important to Lawrence, and with the help of MRI staff, he has reconnected with his family and is learning as much as he can about them.

It is easy to see how driven Lawrence is, he has not let any of life’s obstacles or burdens keep him from his goals and dreams. Congratulations on becoming independent, Lawrence!

Lawrence wanted to give a special thanks to the many people who helped him get to where he is today. His Case Manager, Dominic, Tonya, who used to work at MRI as the music teacher who really motivated him, his guardian Cathy Sturm, Prairieland staff who helped him along his journey, as well as Cindy Burns and Cathy Davis who advocated for him. He also wanted to thank Jill Blue for always motivating him to keep up his hygiene.







Spread the Word: Inclusion 2021 Connection

Last week, March 3rd, was Spread the Word: Inclusion Day. Spread the Word to End the Word is a campaign with the belief that “the world would be better if ALL people were valued, respected, embraced, and included.” However, the group that lacks inclusion most are individuals with developmental disabilities. This is why each year MRI takes the entire day to spread awareness of inclusion throughout our community and prepare Spread the Word themed activities for our persons served.

Inclusion and connection Inclusion Pledge

The theme for 2021 was Connection. This theme focused on the relationship between individuals who make one another feel seen, heard, and valued. To kick off the day, our persons served created and performed skits that demonstrated how practicing inclusion can build connection. Afterwards, they learned about inclusion and diversity in a Spread the Word themed bingo game. Additionally, colorful Spread the Word cups filled with goodies were passed out as everyone finished filling out their Inclusion pledge. 

Spread the Word to End the Word: Inclusion 2021 Theme Connection

To promote and spread awareness of this campaign in our community, we invited community members and organizations to also make pledges to spread the word of inclusion and to build connection throughout the community. Based on the theme of connection, all of the gathered pledges were written on colorful pieces of paper that were connected based on group home, MRI department, and community organizations.

community inclusion pledges

For the finale, all the inclusion pledge chains from persons served, MRI staff, and several community organizations were all connected to form one long paper chain.   The inclusion paper chain was hung throughout our Community Day Services building to represent how we are all staying connected despite being apart. Each piece of the paper chain had either a person’s pledge on how they will demonstrate inclusion this year or a kind and uplifting commitment to see, hear, and value others.

Although this past year has created much disconnection in our community, it was a powerful reminder and physical representation of how connection can be maintained, renewed, and formed when we all pledge to stand for inclusion!

 connection through inclusion

March Employee of the Month

Happy March! Spring is just around the corner! With a new month beginning, MRI has chosen a new employee of the month.

Congratulations to Heike Owens, MRI’s March Employee of the Month. Heike is a member of our Community Day Services department.

Heike was nominated by several people in her department for all of her outstanding work. She was nominated because “she is always friendly to everyone and is very helpful in all areas that she is needed.” 

Congratulations again, Heike! We are happy to have you a part of the MRI team!


Spotlight: Prairie Melody & MRI

Thank you Prairie Melody Birdseed for providing work opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities at MRI!

This past fall 2019, MRI had the opportunity to partner with Prairie Melody Birdseed and packaged 40,000 units for Prairie Melody’s new 99 Cents Only stores launch. Prairie Melody gave 16 of our individuals served a great job opportunity!

Click here to watch the video MRI made on the partnership between the two organizations.

Are you interested in partnering with MRI to provide work opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities? Please contact our Director of Sales and Production, Brad Auten, at 217.875.8810 or bauten@maconresources.org

MRI Kids Connection Summer Open House


Are you interested in having your child attend a camp during the day this summer?

Join MRI Kids Connection on Wednesday, March 4 from 4:30 – 6:30PM to get more information about our Summer Camps we will be offering.

  • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) – Daily 90 minute sessions with a trained tech, assessments, plans and goals by a BCBA. For children ages 2 – 8. Parents must attend or contact Blaine Smith before this meeting to make other arrangements. 
  • Autism Social Skills Camp – 6 weeks of 3 hour intensive camp focused on individual goals to improve social skills. For children ages 10 – 16
  • Camp Earth – 6 weeks of summer camp focused on giving your child a chance to learn job skills and team work. For children ages 14 -21
  • Summer Speech – A chance for your child to have a continuation of speech during the school summer break.

We look forward to meeting you!

If you have any questions before the Summer Camp Open House, please call MRI Kids Connection at 217.429.105



Introducing MRI’s New Programs!


February has been a very busy month for MRI!

This month we have welcomed not one, not two, but 22 different classes in our Community Day Service program! We are so excited to be able to offer these weekly programs to help our individuals be able to try “out of the ordinary” extracurricular programs.

  • Sports Club
  • Shakespeare Corrected with Millikin University
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Beginner Reading Group
  • Karli’s Music Jam
  • Bible Study
  • Spanish Club
  • Advanced Reading Group
  • Swimming at the YMCA
  • Creative Writing
  • Board Game Club
  • Line Dance Club
  • MRI Choir
  • Canvas Painting
  • Science Club
  • Women’s Group
  • Cooking
  • Clay Workshop
  • Art Journaling
  • Nails
  • Intermediate Reading Group

Our individuals have loved participating and trying out all of the new classes that Community Day Service group leaders and case managers have created just for them! We cannot wait to see how their skills in all of these new programs grow in the next coming weeks.

Scroll down to see more pictures of our individuals participating in our new programs!


Persons served attending their very first class of creative writing.

Community Day Service Participant, Karen creating her first clay pot in Clay Workshop. 

Persons served learning about Vincent van Gogh in their new class, Canvas Painting.

Persons served having a fun time playing Candy Land in Board Game Club. 

Persons served learning numbers and every day works in their first class of Spanish Club. 

Meet MRI’s Fall Interns!

This fall semester MRI has had the privilege of having 4 great interns work with our persons served and gain real-world experience.

Meet MRI’s Fall Human Resources Intern, Ethan Meyer!

Ethan is a senior at Millikin University and is wrapping up his Fall HR Internship with MRI. He will be graduating May 2020 and is excited to begin his career in HR.

MRI sat down with Ethan and asked him how his Fall internship experience was before he finished.

“MRI’s overall mission and community involvement really stood out to me. I’ve always been about helping people and I really admire the organization. When my internship coordinator at Millikin told me that there was an HR internship available at MRI, I was completely on board! I want to go into Human Resources when I graduate so this was a great opportunity for me.”

After Ethan graduates from Millikin he would love to work in Human Resources out in California. “I have family in California and it would be great to be close to them and experience all the opportunities California has to offer.”

As for what Ethan has learned during his time at MRI, he says he has learned so much! “I’ve enhanced my public speaking skills as well as how to conduct myself in a professional work space. I’ve also gained new friends and overall had a great experience and can’t thank MRI enough!”

Also meet MRI’s Music Interns- Emily Kouzios, Kaela Adams and Demetri Sepsis!

Just beginning their freshman year at Millikin University, Emily, Kaela and Demetri want to begin real-world experience. After meeting MRI’s recruiter at a Career Fair at Millikin and realizing MRI was looking for a music intern, the three friends got together to start planning out the idea for a music internship program at MRI.

Emily, Kaela and Demetri have loved their internship experience at MRI so far! “We’ve really enjoyed getting to know the individuals MRI serves and seeing how much fun they have singing the songs we bring them each week.”

We wish Ethan, Emily, Kaela and Demetri the best of luck with their finals and future endeavors!


If you are interested in learning more about the internships MRI offers, please contact Lyric Smith – MRI Recruiter/Generalist at 875.8802 or lsmith@maconresources.org

Meet Dorothy

Meet Dorothy, an MRI Community Day Services participant. 

“MRI makes me feel like I can do and accomplish anything I want. I love it here!” ~ Dorothy

Dorothy has been attending MRI for over 22 years. Over that time, Dorothy has grown in her independence and confidence in herself and her abilities. Dorothy is so proud of the work she accomplishes every day at Macon Resources.

But Dorothy wasn’t always this thriving, amazing individual you see every day. When Dorothy started at MRI, she was very withdrawn, insecure and introverted. She didn’t want to work and she didn’t want to have friends. You do not see that personality today.

Over the years, the influence her supportive family, staff, and classmates she interacts with at MRI has changed her. MRI’s innovative programming that teaches Dorothy life skills, job skills, provides opportunities for creativity, and health and wellness has also benefited her and has allowed her to grow into a thriving productive and independent member of society.

Dorothy has a very busy schedule when she arrives at MRI. She holds several different jobs during the day, ranging from labeling license plates, assembling pack nuts, to taking birthday, anniversary or get well soon cards around for staff to sign and send. She loves any reason to celebrate!

Dorothy is also a gifted artist and enjoys spending time in Special Projects class creating art pieces for her friends and family.

While Dorothy faces many challenges, she does not let her disability define her. She always has a positive attitude and knows that with MRI’s help, she is going to be okay. Dorothy is going through nightly dialysis due to kidney failure, but you would never know that. She is on a waiting list and must lose 20 pounds before she can receive her new kidney. With the help of her case manager and family, she has found a healthy eating plan that works for her and is utilizing the exercise benefits of Meaningful Meadows every chance she gets.

“You wouldn’t know Dorothy has kidney failure,” said Leslie Pierce, Human Rights Manager at MRI. “She doesn’t miss a day of work, she’s active and she wants to lose the weight.”

Dorothy loves to walk the track with her friends and swing on the brand new swing set. She is also so excited to be able to use the splash pad when it gets hot outside next summer! Since it’s getting too cold to use Meaningful Meadows, she has moved her exercise routine indoors and enjoys walking laps in the gym and around the building to stay active.

“Meaningful Meadows is nice and pretty. I like walking with all my friends.”

Today, Dorothy is proud of herself. She is social and has many friends at MRI. She has found her value and confidence, and is working hard to lose weight so she can get her new kidney and continue living a happy and meaningful life.

We asked Dorothy if she would like to say anything to the people who took the time to read her story and she said “Yes! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” and “Go MRI!” – 

MRI Day Training Participant

United Way Campaign Week


What a busy, but fun week at MRI!

October 28th – November 1st was the United Way Campaign Week. The week was designed to raise money for the United Way internally.

MRI had so many fun activities to help raise money for United Way, but also had fun activities that their individuals served were able to participate in.

  • Monday, October 28: MRI Spirit Day & Chili Cook-off
  • Tuesday, October 29: Pajama Day & Family Feud
  • Wednesday, October 30: Wacky Tacky Day & Dessert Cart
  • Thursday, October 31: Happy Halloween Trick-or-Treat & Dance
  • Friday, November 1: Fan Favorite Day & Talent Show

It was such a fun week spent with friends and so many new memories were made. United Way supports MRI throughout the entire year so it was amazing to see all the support MRI was giving back to United Way.

Check out our photos from the week below!


November Employee of the Month


Happy November! With a new month beginning that means MRI has chosen a new employee of the month.

Congratulations to Doug Carlson, MRI’s November Employee of the Month. Doug is a member of our maintenance department at MRI.

Doug was nominated by several people in the Admin and Production department. He was nominated because “he is always willing to help others, no matter what the request. Doug has the best attitude and is extremely caring and has great relationships with the individuals we serve.”

Congratulations again, Doug! We are happy to call you MRI’s employee of the month!


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