A Quarter Century in a Flash

25 years of success, challenge, and growth. 25 years of impact. 25 years of making a difference, daily, in the lives of people with disabilities and their families. 25 years of working effectively with colleagues throughout the community to enrich opportunities for people with disabilities living in the greater metropolitan areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and beyond. 25 years of making a difference.

Last month, Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) consumers, current and past staff, current and past board members, colleagues, community partners, policy-makers, and others gathered at the Sheraton Four Points in Minneapolis to celebrate 25 years of independent living services to the community.

The gathering included a delicious dinner served by hotel staff and entertainment provided by Michael Deutsch. Dinner was followed by staff and board recognitions denoting years of service, and awards being delivered to PCAs, Peer Mentors, Consumers, and Community Partners acknowledging their service, partnership and volunteerism to MCIL and the IL model. Executive Director David Hancox offered remarks that included a review the activities of the previous year and a celebratory nod to the significant outcomes of the past 25 years. Special guests included Mary O’Hara Anderson and John Walsh, both previous executive directors, who were recognized for their contributions and the legacy that they created at MCIL. These contributions, along with those of Walt Siebert, MCIL’s first executive director (who could not be us for the celebration), are now commemorated on a special plaque that was presented and will be displayed in the MCIL offices.

The evening of celebration was completed with a presentation by Michael Patrick, a nationally known motivational speaker. Patrick experienced a spinal cord injury at age 17 in an accident during a high school football game. His inspirational remarks included a review of the spirit that informed the creation of the IL movement. He encouraged those present to keep the spirit alive through the continued delivery of IL services.

MCIL has grown from a fledgling storefront operation with a handful of dedicated staffers to a respected community organization of more than 235 employees serving more than 10,000 individuals annually. Over the past 25 years, MCIL was one of the first organizations to offer a consumer directed PAS program; the first consumer directed Ramp program; and a significant leadership role in defining the quality and structure of the adapted transportation system and other consumer directed services in the Twin Cities. MCIL continues those same efforts today by providing tech-based consumer services, offering transition services for youth with disabilities, establishing a Disability Linkage Line Call Center that serves half of Minnesota, and as one of first metro-based nonprofit organizations to pursue a significant role in nursing home relocation efforts in accordance with the Olmstead decision.

The success, growth and impact of MCIL is due to the talent and dedication of the consumers, current and past staff, board members, and the many community partners who have joined us in our efforts through volunteerism, collaborations, and funding and donations.

To all of those individuals, we offer our thanks