Macon Resources, Inc. (MRI) held their ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday, September 24, for their innovative outdoor activity center for adults with developmental disabilities, Meaningful Meadows. Meaningful Meadows is one of the most unique inclusive recreational areas offered in the state of Illinois for adults with developmental disabilities.
Meaningful Meadows has the following features throughout the acre and a half park:
Exercise – features include a walking path, basketball & pickle ball court, splash pad, and putting green
Sensory – includes a waterfall, chimes, butterfly garden, plants and flowers, a sound board, and human“car wash”
Escape – features several different quiet and relaxing areas around Meaningful Meadows
“Exercise, physical fitness, fresh air, all helps with the education,” said Amy Bliefnick, CEO/President of MRI. “It helps us to be sharper and smarter, learn easier, and helps us enjoy life a little more.”
Karina Hayes, a client at MRI said “It gives us a chance to experience what nature is and interact with others.”
300 guests joined MRI to help celebrate the grand opening of Meaningful Meadows. It was a fun-filled day full of smiles, laughter and tons of fun activities happening in the outdoor activity center once the ribbon was cut. The persons served were playing basketball and pickle ball on their new basketball and pickle ball court. Families enjoyed swinging together on the wheelchair swings and playing with the musical chimes. Snack stations were placed around the entire walking path for guests to enjoy and giving them the chance to see what Meaningful Meadows has to offer for adults with developmental disabilities.
It was an amazing day at MRI!
Click here to learn more about Meaningful Meadows!
Continue scrolling to see more pictures from the ribbon cutting ceremony of Meaningful Meadows.
Join MRI as we hit the green to give back in the 27th Annual MRI Charity Golf Outing on Monday, June 3 at South Side Country Club. The $500 registration fee includes one team of four players, golf fees, carts, lunch, drinks, a goody bag and dinner.
*Four person scramble
*Registration and lunch begin at 12:00 pm
*Shotgun start at 1:00 pm
*Dinner & prizes at 5:30 pm
This year, funds raised will help bring the game of golf to people served at MRI!
Contact Rachel Barter at 217.875.8850 or RBarter@maconresources.org to register or fill out this online form.
All proceeds benefit MRI (Macon Resources, Inc.), the largest service provider for children and adults with disabilities in the Mid-West. Each year, MRI serves over 800 children and adults with disabilities in job placement, day training, after school care, inclusive day care, community involvement and more!
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.
MRI serves over 800 children and adults with disabilities each year. That’s a lot of people! But, what do you actually know about our clients here at MRI?
Every person who walks through the doors of MRI is unique, from employees to clients to parents and caregivers. We want to introduce you to the many faces of MRI, one person at a time. With the help of our up-and-coming journalist, Rachel, MRI will be bringing you new stories each week.
Rachel already interviews people around the building for our monthly newsletter, the Real Source. She writes her own questions and turns the answers into articles. When we decided we wanted to start a MRI blog, Rachel was our first thought. She is excited to see her stories online and share her interviewing skills, but first you ought to get to know the reporter herself!
Talk Time with Rachel is always fan favorite in the Real Source. Our clients and employees love seeing themselves in print! Rachel has been interviewing people at MRI for a few years now. She reluctantly started Talk Time with Rachel as a way to start conversations with others at MRI and to get to know them. Two MRI case managers encouraged the segment so she could overcome some of her shyness. While Rachel admits she is still shy and hesitant to start conversation, she enjoys getting to know new friends and learning about their likes and dislikes. Below, Rachel answers a few of her own classic interview questions.
Rachel enjoys drawing and prefers to focus on portraits of famous artists. Her favorite places to eat are Fuji and Panda Express. Rachel’s favorite animal is a cat. She loves how cats can be playful and full of purrs, but then in the next breath, they can be huge jerks. Rachel’s best friend is her case manager Amber. She admires how Amber will do anything for anyone. She is always nice, sweet and helpful.
Rachel loves pop music like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera and Lifetime movies. Whenever she cooks dinner at home, she loves to make scrambled eggs. Rachel loves coming to MRI because she enjoys learning new skills and having a place to pursue them.
Rachel is just one of the over 800 clients and almost 300 employees at MRI. Stay tuned she introduces someone new each week!
Meet 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.
If you are looking for a unique gift this holiday season, consider shopping local at MRI (Macon Resources, Inc.). Each novelty gift purchased directly supports disability services in our community. MRI offers custom license plate signs and art and engraved signs and coasters. MRI’s Etsy page has a few already made designs, but can take custom orders of any type.
Likewise, MRI Independence Pointe is selling all remaining Ornaments of Hope for $5 each. The Ornaments of Hope, also known as the official city ornaments, depict various scenes around Central Illinois including the Oglesby Mansion (1995), Caterpillar (2011) Wabash Depot (2013) and more. See below for a full list of available ornaments.
Shopping local ensures the money you spend stays within your community. By shopping at MRI, your gifts directly support programs like job training, Autism services, speech & language therapy, day vocational training, home visiting and more.
To order a sign or ornament, contact MRI at 217-875-1910 or visit MRI’s Etsy page.
Available ornaments include:
• 1995 Oglesby Mansion
• 1998 Coles County Courthouse
• 2000 Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center
• 2001 Decatur Memorial Hospital
• 2002 Charleston Carnegie Public Library
• 2004 Celebration of Faith (St. James, First United Methodist, St. Paul’s Lutheran)
• 2008 Abraham Lincoln
• 2010 Central Park
• 2011 Caterpillar
• 2013 Wabash Depot
• 2014 First Responders
With the support of MRI’s intermittent CILA, Larry is able to live by himself in his apartment and maintain his independence.
Larry 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.
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 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 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.
“Our lives – especially Elden’s – will forever be more meaningful thanks to Independence Pointe.” -Jenell, Elden’s mother
Just 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 mother
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
Independence 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.
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.
Julie and Andrew’s son, TJ, is enrolled in Discovery Depot Child Care Center at MRI Independence Pointe. Julie and Andrew’s older son, Landric, is a former Discovery Depot participant and is currently in Kindergarten. Landric’s kindergarten teachers were impressed with how prepared he was when school started. Julie believes, “this is because of lessons and work ethic that was instilled in him through the teachers at Discovery Depot.”
Landric and TJ were able to prepare for the structure of kindergarten with Discovery Depot’s similar daily routine. At 3 years old, the brothers began learning to sit quietly and wait for instruction, line up while keeping bodies and hands to themselves and follow directions. They were also given daily jobs to enhance social skills, like calendar helper, weather watcher and line leader. Landric and TJ have also become accustomed to being away from Mom and Dad all day, which can be an issue when entering Kindergarten. When Landric and TJ first learned to sit up, then crawl, and eventually walk, the staff were just as excited as Julie and Andrew.
“There is no place that we trust more to look after and teach him the lessons and social skills that will be needed throughout his childhood.” –Julie Cox
Discovery Depot Child Care Center serves up to 69 children ages 6 weeks to 6 years full-time and accepts children of ALL abilities. Discovery Depot emphasizes communication with the parents on the child’s daily milestones and growth by preparing journals of their music, play, art, and social activities throughout their time with us. The caring staff creates impacting ways to teach hands on discoveries that promote curiosity, self-help, joyful learning and positive self-esteem.
For more information on MRI’s Discovery Depot Child Care Center, click HERE.