Like a lot of people in 2020, Gina Rietveld was worried when her hours at work got cut back because of COVID. The worries were a little different for Gina though. She had something special she was saving up for: a bike for her son. Not just an ordinary bike, a bike that kept her son Kris steady, on a path toward living his life to the fullest.
“I’m saving up for another bike because that’s his love he loves riding his bike,” explained Gina. “We’ve always had a trike for him, but they keep breaking down. All summer we were thinking about how we were going to get him a new bike knowing it would be hard with my hours getting cut due to COVID-19.”
Kris, 31, has some developmental disabilities. Riding his bike, or trike as this case may be, gave him joy in his day. A joy that almost slipped away.
“I was telling his case manager that we have two broken down bikes and the parts don’t ﬁt each other,” continued Gina. “That’s when she told me she could help. She helped me get it set up with MRCI to put it in Kris’s budget from the state. I found a sturdy bike for him at the store, MRCI paid for it, and he is so happy!”
“Grandma, these are happy tears, not sad tears. I love my bike!”
Parents and guardians like Gina, often aren’t aware of programs and funding available to them. In Kris’ case, that meant getting a new bike.
“At ﬁrst, he was so tickled he couldn’t even talk. He rode the bike to his grandmother’s house about 100 yards away, and he walked in the house and said, ‘grandma these are happy tears, not sad tears. I love my bike!’ He’s easy to please, but this was pure joy.” Gina says the bike has been good for the whole family, as he has been giving rides in the basket to his 6-year-old nephew. His brother helps him maintain it and shows Kris how the lights and other features work. “It’s a blessing to have something that can make him so happy.”
These are the stories that drive the mission of MRCI Client Directed Services, a division of MRCI that serves as the Financial Management Service (FMS) for families across the state, including the Rietveld family. FMS provides help with ﬁnancial tasks, billing, and employer-related responsibilities for people who, like Kris and his family, self-direct their services through Consumer Directed Community Supports.
The program of Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS) can provide a wonderful avenue for people like Kris to obtain the things that provide greater independence and quality of life, such as an adaptive bike, when a person cannot use a traditional bike.
“We deﬁnitely appreciate the help that MRCI has given to us, and if Kris could give you a medal, he probably would,” said Gina. While not a medal, MRCI recently announced they have successfully completed a 2020 Readiness Review conducted by Applied Self-Direction. Applied Self Direction (ASD) is a national organization and the process included a rigorous review of MRCI’s Policy and Procedure Manual, in-depth walk throughs of their operations and meetings with staff.