In honor of Autism Awareness Month, MRI’s April Impact story highlights one of our persons served who has been receiving services for over 20 years!
Meet Tim! Tim was diagnosed with autism at the age of 6. His journey with MRI began in 1999 when he joined the situational assessment program, and shortly after that, he switched to the work assessment program. For all of his adult life, Tim has been highly motivated and has a strong desire to work. In March of 2000, the work assessment program placed him in a community job at a local grocery store. Although he enjoys to work, something didn’t feel right for Tim. It was at this point MRI made a real impact on his life by recognizing that the community job wasn’t a good fit for him. In July of 2002, Tim began his job working in License Plates as a labeler and has been working there ever since.
“My favorite thing about MRI is my job!”
Up until recently when COVID-19 began, Tim was working a lot; at least four days a week! He loves labeling license plates and does it extremely well. Since returning back to MRI from quarantine last year, he has been able to continue working. However, due to COVID restrictions and the decrease in orders, he isn’t able to work as often.
MRI is very thankful to have such a hard working employee like Tim!
Additionally, Tim joined the CDS (developmental training) program in 2002. Since then he has formed bonds with many of his caseworkers and can even remember each and every one of their names. CDS is an environment where he is able to effectively communicate his wants and needs and they are heard and recognized. Moreover, MRI creates an outlet in which Tim can socialize and build lasting friendships.
In his interview, Tim shared and demonstrated a really cool fact about himself. He is able to recall and memorize routes and the road names to get to various destinations. For example, he can recall in detail the route from Illinois to Florida!
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.
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!
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.