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Impact Stories

MRI Announces Outdoor Activity Center, Meaningful Meadows

Decatur, IL – Macon Resources, Inc. (MRI) held a kickoff event on Thursday, October 4 to celebrate their newly renovated gym and announce a new addition to the MRI campus, Meaningful Meadows, an innovative outdoor activity center for adults with developmental disabilities. Meaningful Meadows will be one of the most unique inclusive recreational areas offered in the state of Illinois for adults with developmental disabilities. Construction on the activity center will start this fall with plans for completion by the start of summer 2019.

Meaningful Meadows will include the following features throughout the acre and a half park:

  • Exercise – features include a walking path, basketball court, and splash pad
  • Sensory – includes a small pond, chimes, butterfly garden, plants and flowers, a sound board, and “car wash”
  • Occupational – includes bird baths, planters, and a weather station, which will give clients the opportunity to be employed through feeding the birds and taking care of the grounds
  • Escape – features several different quiet and relaxing areas around the grounds
  • Social – consists of sitting areas, an outside classroom, and a spot for yard games

“This outdoor activity space is an innovative, creative and exciting addition to the services we offer for the people we serve,” said Amy Bliefnick, CEO/President of MRI. “The ability to utilize the outdoor space with sensory and exercise opportunities is much needed and highly anticipated.”

“The activity center will be very incredible,” said Carl, a client at MRI. “I like all of the activities we have at MRI, and the new outdoor activity center will help us be better physically and spiritually.”

ABOUT MRI
MRI is a non-profit organization in Decatur, Illinois, that provides services to promote the growth, independence, and self-worth of children and adults with disabilities. Established in 1988 through the consolidation of Progress Resource Center and Macon County Rehabilitation facilities, today, MRI has grown to be the largest provider of services for adults and children with cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities in the region with 270 employees that serve over 800 adults and children through programming such as: children’s prevention and home visiting, day care, after-school care, summer camps, case management, residential services, life skills training, vocational training, job placement, and volunteerism to achieve a meaningful place in our community.

Contact: Rachel Barter
MRI PR and Development Manager
(217) 875-8850
RBarter@maconresources.org

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Macon Resources Achieves Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation

Decatur, IL – The CEO of Macon Resources (MRI), Amy Bliefnick, today announced that MRI has been awarded the four-year Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation from CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. This award confirms that the organization embraces person-centered solutions to improve the quality of life for people receiving supports and services.

MRI is a non-profit organization that provides services to promote the growth, independence, and self-worth of children and adults with disabilities. MRI is the largest provider of services for adults and children with cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities in the region with 170 employees that serve over 800 adults and children through programming such as: children’s prevention and home visiting, day care, after-school care, summer camps, case management, residential services, life skills training, vocational training, job placement, and volunteerism to achieve a meaningful place in our community.

“We strive everyday to promote the growth, independence, and self-worth of children and adults with disabilities”, said Bliefnick. “On behalf of the 270 employees at Macon Resources we are so proud to receive accreditation as this validates that we provide the best standards and quality of care that we can for the individuals we serve.”
When MRI partnered with CQL to pursue accreditation, it undertook a rigorous process to review and improve supports and services.

The efforts of MRI were focused on empowering the people who receive supports to pursue what really matters in their lives, and achieve their personally-defined outcomes.
MRI has been awarded CQL accreditation as a result of demonstrating proficiency in the following areas:

  • Basic Assurances® Ensuring fundamental safeguards related to health, safety and human security
  • Personal Outcome Measures® Supporting and empowering people to achieve their goals and dreams
  • Person-Centered Excellence Demonstrating organizational commitment to continued enhancement of systems

“CQL commends MRI for its success in increasing the quality of life for the people it supports. We are pleased to partner with them on this journey of ongoing organizational transformation,” states Mary Kay Rizzolo, president and CEO of CQL.

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Contact: Rachel Barter
Public Relations and Development Manager
p. 217.875.8850 | e. rbarter@maconresources.org

CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership is an international non-profit, virtual organization dedicated to the definition, measurement and improvement of personal quality of life. CQL’s vision is a world of dignity, opportunity and community for all people. Learn more about CQL by visiting: www.c-q-l.org

MRI is a non-profit organization in Decatur, Illinois, that provides services to promote the growth, independence, and self-worth of children and adults with disabilities. Established in 1988 through the consolidation of Progress Resource Center and Macon County Rehabilitation facilities, today, MRI has grown to be the largest provider of services for adults and children with cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities in the region with 270 employees that serve over 800 adults and children through programming such as: children’s prevention and home visiting, day care, after-school care, summer camps, case management, residential services, life skills training, vocational training, job placement, and volunteerism to achieve a meaningful place in our community.

Meet Cameron

Get to know him

Cameron participates in the Discovery Depot child care center at Independence Pointe. At only two years old, he is a rambunctious ball of energy! When we went to visit Cameron to get a few photos for our Impact Story he was a bit shy. Granted, we arrived as he and his classmates were just waking up from their afternoon naps (Oops!). With the help of his teachers we were able to get him to crack a few smiles for the camera.

How has Discovery Depot helped?

When Cameron joined Discovery Depot, he was having both physical and developmental issues. Aside from the services provided by MRI he also visits a therapist to aid in developing his skills. After working with Cameron it was apparent that his poor vision was impacting his developmental abilities. Once he received his adorable glasses and began working in the classroom, he began to show great improvement.
In his classroom he and his classmates work on social and emotional learning. Some of the learning includes;

How is he doing now?

After speaking with his grandmother about Cameron’s progress, she had this to say, “Through Discovery Depot he has developed greatly.” She has noticed a big improvement in his social skills and his memory. When he enters the building at Independence Pointe he recognizes all of the staff and even knows everyone’s names!

 

Meet Angie

If you were to visit MRI (Macon Resources, inc.) out on Hubbard Avenue, there is a good chance you would be welcomed by a big smile from Angie. Angie has been with MRI for over 33 years, and has witnessed many changes throughout those years! She has held multiple employment positions around the building; however, working as an Agency Greeter is her most recent achievement!

Growing up, Angie faced bullying throughout school. It was difficult for her to find a place to fit in, and as a result she moved from school to school. As she progressed through school, the bullying intensified and all of the harassment took a toll on her. Eventually she shut herself off from everyone to avoid the negativity. At the age of 17 Angie was able to utilize the services provided by MRI and she finally found a place of belonging. She slowly began to open up and become the kind and caring person she is today.

“I want to be more independent. I want to try stuff on my own.” -Angie

We sat down with Angie one afternoon and had a wonderful time listening to her describe the events of her past that have led her to where she is now. Her early years with MRI were highly supervised. Angie received an escort to help her into, and throughout the building. Once she warmed up to the atmosphere and the people, Angie soon noticed she was receiving more attention from staff than she needed. One night Angie expressed to her mother, “I want to be more independent. I want to try stuff on my own.” and the next day Angie escorted herself into the building. This moment was the first step Angie had taken towards becoming more independent for herself!

As more time passed and confidence in herself grew, Angie wanted to push her sense of independence even further. She wanted to get a job and start earning money on her own. Angie recalls her first job at MRI as stuffing newspapers. During that job she learned valuable skills such as work ethic and money management. With the help of MRI’s employment staff, Angie has held multiple jobs both within MRI and in the community.

Aside from working, Angie also is involved with volunteering! A few years ago Angie was informed that McKinley Court Care Center had multiple opportunities for volunteers at their building in Decatur. Angie took it upon herself to find them in the phone book and give them a call to see where she could help. After receiving the Volunteer of the Year award for three years in a row at McKinley Court, Angie was offered a job there! Her duties consist of; participating in bingo with the residents, socializing and completing paperwork. 

Angie is very thankful for the services MRI provides and the skills she has learned along the way. She looks forward to what lies ahead of her and the places she will go.

Meet Tony

Tony 2Meet Tony, a MRI Day Vocational Training participant. Tony may be blind, but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing his passions, including music. Tony taught himself to play piano by ear at the age of five. However, his musical abilities don’t stop there! Tony can also play keyboard, auto harp and sing.

MRI clients and employees can hear Tony’s music around lunchtime. Monday – Friday from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Tony plays piano outside the cafeteria so those who are eating lunch can enjoy some smooth tunes. Tony enjoys playing the piano because other people enjoy it. One of his favorite things to do is make new friends and he feels he does this best through music.

Tony used to travel around to various nursing homes and libraries to play piano for the guests. He hopes to start doing that again soon so he can continue meeting new people. His current goal is to create a CD and hear himself on the radio.

When Tony is not playing one of the various instruments he enjoys, he can be found bowling with his friends, hanging out with his girlfriend or watching a classic Western film.

Tony 1

Meet Olivia

MRI’s Our Voice Through Art has allowed Olivia to gain confidence, make friends and think outside the box.  Through the class, she has been able to explore various materials, which has shown her how to look at the world differently.

Olivia’s communication skills have also improved as she becomes more comfortable asking for help, sharing materials and complimenting others’ work. She even carries on conversations with her peers as they complete their artwork.

But most importantly, her mom explains, “she feels a part of something. She feels important.”

 

Meet Larry

With the support of MRI’s intermittent CILA, Larry is able to live by himself in his apartment and maintain his independence. 

Larry with keyLarry has lived in his own apartment for four years with the support of MRI’s intermittent CILA. Before living on his own, Larry lived in a strict group home where many decisions were made for him. Things like when to eat meals and when to go to bed were determined by the group home. Larry knew he was capable of making decisions and wanted to live his life the way he wanted to live it, so he reach out to MRI’s intermittent CILA program. MRI’s intermittent CILA allows Larry to be independent and live independently while still providing needed life and safety supports. He is now able to plan his days around what he wants to do. Larry enjoys exercising, cooking his own meals and going to church. Larry is very active in his community and has made many friends during his daily walks around Kroger for exercise, trips to Taco Bell and weekly church visits.

Larry with Cook book 2

Twenty two years ago Larry made the decision to become a vegetarian. He did so as a way to become healthier and has diligently stuck with it.When Larry began to have health issues because he was not getting enough iron, MRI staff supported him in meeting with a doctor so he could learn how to add more iron into his diet, which he is now able to do. Larry uses his vegetarian cook book to plan meals for himself. During the fall and winter, his favorite meals to make are soups and vegetarian chili because they are easy to reheat he can eat it all week long. It is safe and easy for Larry to cook in his own apartment. If anything were to go wrong, Larry has MRI CILA staff just a phone call away.

larry calendar writingLarry is not only strict with his vegetarian diet, but also with his work out routine. He takes daily walks and works out three times a week. This type of organization and precision can be seen in other aspects of Larry’s life as well. He keeps a calendar on his wall and at the end of every day he writes down exactly what he did that day. Because Larry is so structured himself, adding another layer of daily structure does not work. He does best when he has the freedom to organize his day based on what he determines to be priorities in his life, which is what MRI is able to provide.

Now that Larry has an apartment to call his own, he has new goals. He already saved money and bought a new couch. Now he is saving money to go on a trip with his friends this fall. Larry decided to put part of his monthly spending money in the bank and cut back on his trips to Taco Bell in order to save for the trip. With the help of MRI, he is in charge of his own finances, which means he has taken on the responsibility of setting money aside for food and bills.Larry outside house

Larry creates his own schedule and spends a lot of time in the community and with his church family. The staff at Kroger, Taco Bell and his local Subway enjoy seeing Larry about town. Many people know Larry because of his regular visits.  In fact, they tend to worry if he does not show up for a few days. Larry has been able to thrive since moving into his own apartment with the support of MRI. He has discovered new things he enjoys doing, new places he had never been and he has made new friends in the community.

 

Meet Elden

“Our lives – especially Elden’s – will forever be more meaningful thanks to Independence Pointe.” -Jenell, Elden’s mother

Elden Bowling ShrinkJust before his third birthday, Elden had been receiving Early Intervention speech and language services through Independence Pointe. As his Early Intervention services were about to end, Elden’s mother, Jenell, was worried about his future. That December, she was invited to Independence Pointe’s Christmas Party. After attending the party and meeting the Independence Pointe staff and other families receiving services, “all those anxieties went away.”

Since that first meeting, Elden has been enrolled in various services offered at Independence Pointe. He is currently in speech therapy, which he began right after turning three. Elden had been non-verbal until he was almost four. Thanks to Independence Pointe’s speech therapy program, Elden spoke his first words at age four. “To hear him now at the age of six,” Jenell explains, “you would never guess he was ever non-verbal.”

Through his hard work and the guidance of the amazing Independence Pointe ABA staff, his social awareness and skills gave grown leaps and bounds.” -Jenell, Elden’s motherbowl-a-thon3-min

Shortly after beginning speech therapy, Elden was diagnosed with Autism. That summer, they began Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at Independence Pointe. Elden spent the summer at Independence Pointe working hard to improve his social skills. He used to enjoy watching other kids play, but now he wants to join in as well! Independence Pointe has even helped out at home. Jenell explains, “we’ve learned more about what triggers his meltdowns and how to effectively calm him down.”

Recently, Elden’s parents also started attending Parents Night Out, a program designed to give parents a night out while Independence Pointe teaches and entertains their children. While the parents get a short break from parenting, the children work on social skills by playing games, enjoying guest performers, and taking field trips into the community.

“Parents Night Out is more than just getting an occasional night out with my husband. Elden gets essential social interaction and play. He gets to experience activities and friends in a setting that I know is safe.” -Jenell, Elden’s mother

Elden-minIndependence Pointe provides services to promote the growth of individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children’s Autism Services at Independence Pointe include Speech and Language Therapy, Child Care for children of all abilities ages 0-18, Social Skills Camp, Social Skills Support, an Autism Resource Room, and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA provides instruction to improve the day-to-day life of children with ASD or other developmental disabilities.  ABA instruction, typically offered in a one-on-one setting to meet the needs of each learner, is focused on teaching skills and decreasing behaviors that interfere with learning.

For more information on MRI Autism Services for children, click here.

Meet Laury

In October of 2004 Laury suffered a traumatic brain injury, leaving her in a medically-induced coma.  When she regained consciousness a few months later, she had a long road ahead of her. The road began with having to learn how to walk and talk again.  Laury now reflects on her recovery process with openness and humbleness. She believes that her stubbornness helped her through her recovery; she is grateful for her second chance.

After her accident Laury moved to Decatur, Illinois to be near family and was quickly referred to MRI.  When she was ready to return to work in 2006, MRI’s Community Employment Services and Laury’s own “stubbornness” helped her reach her goals.  The Community Employment Specialists at MRI helped Laury through vocational interest and capabilities assessments.  In the weekly job training sessions at MRI, Laury quickly demonstrated her dependability, ability to follow through and readiness for employment.  Laury was placed in a kitchen staff position at St. Mary’s Hospital, where she worked from 2006-2013.  This position allowed Laury to have support in her first job after her brain injury, with 3 others from MRI and a job coach on-site.

“When I came to Macon Resources, it was a godsend.  They help you as much as they possibly can.  MRI gives you all the resources, and you do the footwork.”

When Laury’s kitchen helper position at St. Mary’s was eliminated due to budget cuts, Laury came back to MRI again for help.  This time, with years of solid employment under her belt, she needed less support.  She got assistance again from Community Employment Specialists to apply for jobs independently.  They helped her with job applications, interview preparation and job seeking.
Laury now works for Sodexo Magic at ADM corporate headquarters.  After taking career interest assessments at MRI, Laury knows she is in the right field as a kitchen helper; she takes great pride in the work she does.

“I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to sit around much,” Laury explains.  “I love working in a kitchen.  It keeps my mind busy and makes time go fast.”

In addition to working, Laury enjoys reading books on her Kindle and travelling with her mother.  She recently moved out of government-subsidized housing and now rents her own home with the money she makes with her job at Sodexo/Magic.  Laury has just purchased her first car since her accident 11 years ago. She speaks with pride on the new house she is able to pay for herself and the work she wants to do with her car.

To learn more about MRI’s Community Employment Services and Eligibility Criteria, click here.

Meet Hayden

When MRI Kid’s Connection Coordinator, Jessica Gremo, first met Hayden and his family five years ago, Hayden’s mother, Nichole, was working at KFC and was having issues finding childcare.  No daycare in the area would take Hayden because he was tube fed.  Nichole thought she was out of options. She contacted Kid’s Connection, a program for children of all abilities, to see if she could enroll Hayden.

At that time the MRI Kid’s Connection did not enroll tube fed children; the cost was extensive and there were no staff trained to assist.  However, in order to meet the needs of the community and the families we serve, MRI changed the policy.  The MRI nurse trained staff on tube-feeding so Hayden could enroll in Kid’s Connection.

Hayden has flourished at Kid’s Connection through companionship from his staff and his peers.

“Hayden is a happy active young man. He has been enrolled in Kid’s Connection for 5 years. He is still tube fed on occasion but he is also able to eat by mouth now.”
-Jessica Gremo, Kid’s Connection Coordinator

With the support of Kid’s Connection After School and Summer Care, Nichole was able to not only keep her job, she was  able to go back to school.  She is now a nurse, and can work, knowing her son is well cared for at Kid’s Connection.

For more information on the MRI Kid’s Connection Program, click HERE.

 

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