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Impact Stories

#NDEAM Spotlight: Meet Roger

Meet Roger! Roger has worked at MRI for 34 years and currently works as a License Plate Tech in the Production department. He specifically works on the blanking line, but in the past has worked on roller coating and embossing. Roger knows A LOT about license plates!

We asked Roger why his job is important and he told us how license plates provides a good service for the state, and because if it weren’t for them, no one could drive! We couldn’t agree more.

Roger came to MRI out of high school and entered MRI’s Regular Work Program (now known as Supportive Employment). Before coming to MRI, Roger worked at a daycare at a church in Springfield.

You can tell that Roger really loves his job and is an extremely hard worker. When we asked him what he loved most he said “Everything. The people I work with are easy to get along with. The job is not too stressful” If he could switch jobs with anyone at MRI he definitely would not want to be the boss. Instead, he would want to switch with Dewayne, who is his foreman!

Here are a couple other fun facts we learned about Roger:

  • If Roger had unlimited funds, he said he would invest in something
  • His dream job is the job he’s currently doing at MRI

#NDEAM Spotlight: Meet Ian

Meet Ian! Ian came to MRI’s Supportive Employment Program in 2019 as a referral, where he worked with staff member, Dee McMillen, on finding a job.

Dee started the process by asking Ian lots of questions to help him determine the type of job he would be interested in. From the job search, to interview prep, to the hiring process, Dee was there to support Ian throughout his community employment journey.

Ian was hired in the fall of 2019 to work in the kitchen at St. Mary’s Hospital as part of the utensils group. He was responsible for washing pots and pans and delivering food carts to some of the patients! Two very important tasks of working in a hospital.

Even though Ian is currently laid off due to COVID-19, in his short time at St. Mary’s he has learned a lot and had some great experiences. It meant a lot to Ian when his supervisors appreciated him. He told us about one time when they told him how awesome he was and even gave him some goodies as a thank you.

Ian has also experienced situations of uncertainty while working at St. Mary’s. Sometimes he just wasn’t sure what he should do when his main tasks were finished, so he would take on extra duties like mopping the floors or just simply ask his supervisor what else he could help with. We love Ian’s initiative!

Having a job in the community means a lot to Ian. He told us it makes him feel “happy and excellent”. We are so glad he has found a job that he loves!

Here are some fun facts to get to know Ian even more:

  • When he isn’t working, he loves to play his Wii!
  • If he could learn how to do anything, he would want to learn how to win Wheel of Fortune (us too, Ian!)
  • Ian’s dream job is to be a professional baseball player

#NDEAM Spotlight: Meet Chaini

For our second National Disability Employment Awareness month spotlight, meet Chaini! Chaini has worked at Evergreen Senior Living for the past 2 years as a Dining Server, where she helps prepare meal trays by placing sides on the trays. She also wraps silverware, washes dishes and puts them away!

Chaini came to MRI two years ago looking for a job in the community. Through MRI’s Supportive Employment Program Chaini was placed into a position at Evergreen Senior Living. This job was a perfect fit for Chaini because throughout her interview she kept mentioning how much she likes to help people. She has a heart of gold!

The start of a new job can be scary and challenging. To help Chaini adapt to her new position, for the first couple of weeks Sandra, a staff member from MRI’s Supportive Employment Program, helped her throughout her training. Sandra helped Chaini by helping her learn her new duties, and explaining them to her in a way that she could easily understand. Sandra often checks in on Chaini and assists her with computer trainings as part of her position. Chaini admitted that in the beginning of her new job, it was challenging. She told us how she had to learn how to listen carefully and how her co-workers were there to support her anytime she needed assistance or had questions. Overall, Chaini has had a very positive experience working at Evergreen and truly loves her job and the people she serves there.

We asked Chaini what she would be doing if she didn’t have to work. “I don’t know, maybe reading. This is why I have a job, I didn’t want to be seen as being lazy, sitting around the house all day or be seen as a kid. This job is gratifying for me. I feel like I’m needed and contributing to the community.” – Chaini

Chaini having a job is a stepping stone to the many other goals and dreams she wants to achieve. A few at the top of her list are to be independent, live on her own, learn to drive and open her own business where she can help people!

Lastly, we asked Chaini how working in the community makes her feel. “It makes me feel like I can be self-sufficient, like I can think on my own and be an adult. At times, I didn’t feel comfortable doing certain tasks, fearful to do a new things, but once you get used to it and press on, it gets easier.” – Chaini

Thank you Chaini for sharing your story with us!

#NDEAM Spotlight: Meet Barb

In 1983, we unveiled the first license plate made at Macon Resources, Inc. (MRI) This was an incredibly historic day that forever changed the landscape for individuals with developmental disabilities in our community. You can’t see the photo that well, but it’s hard to miss the smiles and pride on those we serve’s faces.

Almost 40 years later, we are proud to still be making all license plates for the State of Illinois. In fact, 60% of the work done in license plates is by individuals with developmental disabilities! So today, for our first National Disability Employment Awareness Month feature, we are proud to highlight a woman who has been here since that first plate was made in 1983. It’s the woman in the photo holding the “First One” license plate. Meet Barb!

Barb has worked at MRI since 1979. Over 40 years ago, she came to MRI’s Supportive Employment Program looking for assistance in finding a job. Throughout this process, Barb realized she would like to work at MRI, as she liked the types of jobs they had to offer. The Supportive Employment staff assisted her through the resume and application process and Barb was hired!

Barb started out working in license plates, but later wanted to try something different, so she joined our Janitorial department where she currently still works! Barb loves working at the rest areas. We asked her if she ever thought she might want to work somewhere else and she said “No! I love working at MRI and want to keep working here.” Barb went on to tell us that loves to work because it gives her something to do that she enjoys!

Other fun things we learned about Barb:

  • If she could go anywhere on a vacation, she would go to Hawaii!
  • She would love to learn how to cook fried chicken
  • Her dream job would be to babysit kids

Want to learn more about MRI’s Supportive Employment Program? Click here!

 

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.”

 

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