It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for tie dye! Sonya’s Day Training group spent Monday and Tuesday tie dying t shirts to wear to the client conference in September. First, we had to twist and wrap all the T shirts.
Next, Karina helped Sonya spray each shirt so it was damp. Then it was time for the fun part: dying them! Everyone got to choose their own colors. The trick is to soak them with dye so it dries really bright. Matt used so many colors, Karina had to step in the help.
Once the shirts were dyed, they went in a grocery bag to sit for 8 hours. Today, they will be washed, dried and, the best part, worn!
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.
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.
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.”
The Board of Directors of Macon Resources, Inc. (MRI) announces the selection of Amy Bliefnick to succeed retiring Executive Director, Dreux Lewandowski. Ms Bliefnick is a Decatur native who has served as Director of the Illinois State Fair from 2004 – 2015, Board Chairman and Director of Richland Community College, Director of Development for St. Teresa High School, and Illinois State Special Olympic Board of Directors.
Mr. Lewandowski began his tenure at MRI in 2004 and has been working in disability services for 35 years. Under his direction MRI expanded services to both children and adults in the areas of childcare, early childhood prevention, community living and job training programs.
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.
MRI will be holding a variety of events to celebrate National Developmental Disability Awareness Month. MRI will also be holding an internal campaign for National Spread the Word to End the Word Month.
The following activities are also scheduled for Adult Day programming at MRI’s main building as part of National Developmental Disability Awareness Month:
Spread the Word to End the Word Pledge Booth – Monday, March 14
“Celebrating Us” Dance Contest – Tuesday, March 15
“Celebrating the Journey” Recognition/Honors Program – Wednesday, March 16
MRI Day Vocational Training Annual Client Conference – Thursday, March 17
Along with structured activities throughout the month, MRI Adult Services will be holding an “I am” Campaign, where individuals receiving MRI services can utilize their creativity in written or picture form to describe who “I am”. The MRI “I am” Campaign reinforces that people should not be identified as their disabilities. We encourage you to join us in celebrating abilities and encouraging self-advocacy.
Danny, an MRI Day Vocational Training participant, works in MRI’s license plate production.
Danny has been working in license plate production since he graduated high school. He performs several different jobs involved in the manufacturing of license plates, such as placing stickers and packaging. However, he prefers to work on the take off line. The take off line is a physically demanding job that requires Danny to be on his feet 8-10 hours a day.
Danny also assists Sandy, the LP Packaging Foreman, with training new staff. In fact, Danny even helped train Sandy when she was first hired 15 years ago! Because of MRI’s job training and placement, Danny is able to live independently by paying for his mortgage and household bills. He has also grown in both his confidence and responsibility. He takes pride in the work he does.
“Danny has a fantastic work ethic and rarely, if ever, calls off. He is adaptable and flexible and accepts any job assignment offered to him.” -Sue, Danny’s Case Manager
Producing the license plates at MRI has given people like Danny a chance to gain independence through a job. Since 1983 MRI has produced all of the license plates for the state of Illinois, meeting state production needs and delivery schedules.
For more information about MRI’s license plate production and other manufacturing and production services MRI engages in to provide job training to adults with disabilities, click here.