By Lisa Cownie, MRCI Taking center stage in their own success story may not have been the initial goal; however, […]

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By Lisa Cownie, MRCI

Taking center stage in their own success story may not have been the initial goal; however, it has definitely proven to become the norm for MRCI clients across the state. With person-centered programming and support, our clients are writing their own future and watching the stories play out before their very eyes.

Stories like Jeremy’s, he first came to MRCI in 2003. Since that time he has found employment at Devenish in Fairmont and has become a father. He is proud to be earning to support his new family.

“It helps me take care of my family,” said Jeremy. “I have a stepdaughter, she’s six, and my wife and I just had a baby. It makes me feel good.”

Then there are stories like Kyle’s, whose family moved him from Tennessee to New Ulm specifically for MRCI’s services. We have not disappointed. Kyle volunteers with the Hanska Fire Department and is a fixture at Hy-Vee where many customers greet him by name as he bags groceries, brings in carts and does whatever else is needed in customer service.

Jessica inspired us all last year. A fierce advocate for individuals with disabilities, she worked tirelessly to educate employers on the value of workplace diversity while looking for a job in the community. She went on to find community employment at Valley Fair.

“I am working hard not only for me,” she said. “But for others like me. Disabled people should have the same opportunities as others.

Then there is Levi. A long-time community worker at Lowe’s in Mankato, he worried when the store announced it was closing. But with a redirection in job training, Levi was able to immediately secure another community job at the Verizon Center in Mankato.

“MRCI really helps you get to that level of having a job in the community, if you have the will,” said Levi. “I felt like I had the potential to eventually work out in the community. It took hard work. That’s one of the huge building blocks to success.”

There are those stories though that showcase successes beyond the work environment. Such is the case with Jim. “My son Jim was born with partial deletion of chromosome #5,” Rosemary said. “He has always needed special care 24/7. We tried different programs and even group home situations, but none really gave Jim the quality of care he needed. So we always were the 24/7 caregivers.”

But a couple of years ago Rosemary and her husband were finding it more and more difficult to be able to tend to all of Jim’s needs. It was just something they physically could no longer do. Having lived, worked and raised their children in Wisconsin, Rosemary wasn’t sure what to do next. She couldn’t seem to find the right “fit” in care for Jim. That’s when their daughter, who lives in Minnesota Lake, Minnesota, told them about MRCI. So Rosemary, Paul and Jim made the trip from their Wisconsin home to visit. Everything clicked…they loved the area, found a home and, most importantly, found a place where they believed Jim could thrive: MRCI.

Jim is a part of MRCI’s Client Directed Services PCA program to provide support for Jim and his family at night and the weekend, During the day Jim is able to have a job in-house at one of MRCI’s locations in Mankato.

Rosemary said, “We came here, just up and moved from our lifelong home, because of good programs and what we felt would be the highest level of participation and care for Jim.”

Behind these stories are other numbers to tout: 933 individuals found community employment for the first time in 2018, we traveled 757,857 miles to make sure our clients could all get to work and we supported 2,063 families in their personal wishes to self-direct their own care.

Telling the story of MRCI begins with telling the stories of those we serve. And we certainly have some great stories to tell; however, we are quick to recognize that the impact of our work is only possible because of our amazing staff, families and employment partners.

As we come to the end of our 65th anniversary year, we look forward to the next 65 and know that, just as we have the past six decades, will continue to have an impact in the industry and in the communities we serve.

If you know of anyone that could benefit from MRCI’s person-centered services, please have them reach out to us. Thank you for being a part of the MRCI story. The role you play creates opportunities for individuals with disabilities to take center stage in their own success story. Go to

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