MRCI abandons walls and launches vans in new program | News, Sports, Jobs

MRCI has moved its operation to the community, as shown in the image above. From left to right, Tami Reuter, Sarah Murray, Cheri Leiding and Sarah Nageli.

Managed Resources Connection Incorporated (MRCI) has provided support and resources to people with disabilities in southern Minnesota for 65 years.

However, the organization is expanding to new frontiers this year through an exploratory day service program and the addition of inclusive resources, such as accessible washrooms, to the community.

MRCI offers a wide variety of services to its clients. An employment program connects clients with community jobs, a bridging program helps people who want to explore a job, but are not yet sure if they are ready to commit to a job. Finally, home services provide tax management for people who wish to manage their home care themselves.

MRCI’s latest program is a day service program that is purely focused on connecting people with disabilities with the community. MRCI hopes that its clients and local businesses and organizations can mutually benefit from the sharing of experiences.

“It’s a real community inclusion” explains Tami Reuter, Director of Commercial Marketing at MRCI. “We volunteer for and with the community. 

She keeps, “We have groups with a ratio of one to four; one staff member for four clients. We plan daily activities based on goals and what customers want to do. 

One of Reuter’s main goals is to enable local businesses and organizations to share their knowledge and skills with MRCI customers. This could include life skills such as money management, healthy living strategies such as exercise, or simply opportunities to interact with others.

However, Reuter believes that the community can also learn a lot from MRCI clients.

“They have so many unique talents”, explains Sarah Nageli, day services coordinator for the MRCI. “What we can share is also great. “ 

MRCI has found a creative way to bring its customers into the community: vans.

“We are no longer bound by walls” Reuters shares. “We no longer have a physical location. Community is our location. 

Reuters means that literally. With the launch of the day services program in January, the MRCI has completely relinquished its physical location in the community.

The Day Services program is building-free and is fully community-hosted. A fleet of white vans transport customers to and from their daily destinations.

Reuter is delighted with the success of the program so far.

“We no longer hide our talents”she explains. “We really embrace what the community has to offer and also share what we have to offer. “ 

Daily destinations vary widely depending on the goals and preferences of each group.

“This group has physical goals”,Reuter said of the two clients, Sarah Murray and Chris McCarty, who were present for the interview. In fact, they hopped in the van to get to the gym as soon as the interview was over.

“A group is really in history”,Reuters adds. “They explored all of the historic places in southern Minnesota.”

“Now, with vehicles, we are no longer limited by geography”,Reuters explains. “We can go anywhere. Geography is no longer an obstacle.

After breaking down this particular hurdle, Reuter began to tackle other hurdles that MRCI clients face.

“Accessible toilets are one of the obstacles we have”,Reuters shares.

“As a mother of four, I have noticed that you can go to all public toilets and they all have changing stations”she says. “Unfortunately, if you’re an adult in a wheelchair and need help using the bathroom, you don’t have the same dignity. “ 

The problem has grown as the day service program, which takes place fully in the community, has grown.

Nageli explains the difficulty of the situation. “If we take people into the community, we want to see community housing. We need at least one bathroom in the area. 

“Offer the same level of dignity to all; this is what we are looking for ”,Nageli adds. “It would be so good to have these options in the community.” 

Reuter took the matter to Blue Earth’s city council at its last regular meeting on Tuesday, September 7.

“We would like to draw your attention to an additional request for a possible use of the dollars of the American bailout”,Reuters said in a letter to city administrator Mary Kennedy.

“We respectfully request the city to consider modifying or making accessible at least one of the county’s public buildings with an adult changing room,”she continued.

While the Council has yet to come up with concrete plans to address the issue, it has been receptive to Reuter’s ideas, and it is possible that his words will lead to change within the community.

“It would be a very good barrier to remove”,Nageli reasons.

Reuters adds, “We’re just asking cities and counties to be leaders; to start the trend. 

According to Reuters, if Blue Earth takes the lead in making accessibility a priority, other communities could follow suit.

In the meantime, Reuter is delighted to continue integrating MRCI’s day services program into the community, and hopes that community members will continue to look for ways to get involved.

“We had some pretty incredible volunteers who came to see us”Reuters said. “But, as we open up opportunities for more people, we need more opportunities.”

As Reuter explains, these opportunities are not possible without the participation of the community.

Those interested in volunteering or working with MRCI can visit, or call Nageli at 507-508-2259.

Cheri Leiding, a day services specialist, couldn’t approve of her time with the program more.

“I’m going to work, but it’s not really work”Leiding said. “It’s just exploring with friends.” 

“We are still flourishing”Nageli adds.“We’re just doing something different.”

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