Logan-Mason Rehab is a private, not-for-profit organization
established to help those with disabilities overcome their
limitations and achieve independence through a positive work
Now a part of Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, an
affiliate of Memorial Health System, the Logan-Mason Rehabilitation
Center offers work and a sense of self-worth to area residents who
otherwise might not have an opportunity to lead productive lives.
Inside the front doors, visitors are greeted by typical
office-style cubicles, offices and a smiling receptionist. It looks
like a conventional office setting until one walks through a door
into the center where staff and clients work daily amidst smiles and
The director, Gene Frioli, doesn't walk around explaining the
various areas. Rather he introduces staff members and gives them the
floor to explain their section of the center. Gene is a modest man
who praises staff whenever or wherever he is given a chance to do
so. "I can't say enough about the character of the staff," he says.
"They are all quality individuals."
Frioli was born in Staunton and is a Staunton High School
graduate. He received his degree in special education from ISU. He
then went on to graduate school in counseling and psychology at SIU
Edwardsville. He is married to Melissa, an engineer in planning and
design, and they have two children, Amanda and Sam.
As the tour begins, Gene seems disappointed that one supervisor
is on vacation and isn't available to explain the center herself. He
enjoys allowing staff members to do their jobs, and he readily
prefers they receive the credit for their departments.
The work area begins with a large warehouse filled with boxes and
stacked pallets holding electrical equipment waiting for the next
task to be assigned. Here tasks such as cleaning and minor assembly
are done under the supervision of staff. Eaton is the largest local
employer of LMRC's clients, but other area businesses provide
opportunities to these individuals as well, including Bonanza,
McDonald's, Precision Products, Oney's IGA and Thornton Oil.
In an adjoining room, people work at tables ingeniously equipped
to cater to each individual's abilities. Some guide a metal bar
through a wooden form to shape the metal to specifications before
sliding on a black plastic sleeve. These will become handles.
Some workers sit in front of a picture of three colored wires
drawn out in straight lines. They hold metal boxes sprouting
matching colored wires and use the picture to measure the right
length before making cuts.
Others count screws and carefully dispense them into tiny plastic
bags. The counting is made easy: one screw in each section in the
wooden template, and when there is a screw in each slot, the number
is correct and ready to be bagged.
Whenever someone visits, the workers proudly show their completed
work to visitors. As one room leads to another, everyone, both staff
and workers, has a ready smile. Everyone is eager to say hello and
make friendly conversation.
This is the home of the regular work program, which trains
clients to work, helps them obtain employment and aids them in
advancing in their current positions. It also is home to a group
of staff members who frequently are volunteers after their work is
done, now teaching their clients the satisfaction of becoming volunteers
Logan-Mason Rehab trains each client according to his or her
individual needs through a variety of programs offered on Postville
Drive and at LMRC's other locations. The center enrolls in its
program more than 200 clients with disabilities ranging from
borderline to profound. The hope and help the center brings to the
developmentally disabled and their families cannot be overstated.
Classrooms situated behind the warehouse and workroom house the
developmental training program. These rooms are similar to those in
any public elementary or high school. Classrooms set up for crafts,
cooking, life skills, art and community services are filled with
eager pupils and more friendly faces. Here students with severe
developmental disabilities learn essential skills enabling them to
care for themselves. Subjects taught include personal hygiene,
balancing a checkbook, reading and obeying street signs, and making
items that can be sold for profit or donated to area charities. The
walls are lined with the students' creations: happy snowmen,
cheerful lizards painted in bright colors, canvas paintings done
with precise strokes and enviable style.
One student works at a customized easel that holds a plastic form
for stitchery. It's an important aid, as the client has only some
use of one hand and still less of the other hand.
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Another client has recently made pumpkin cookies that have
everyone raving. As the baker beams with pride, the staff tells
about how good the cookies are and how everyone in the building
looks forward to them.
The happiness and enthusiasm emanating from the students is
surpassed only by that of the instructors. Each instructor is
clearly very fond of his or her pupils and enjoys teaching them and
caring for them. In the art room, the art instructor proudly pulls
out painting after painting among a hundred or more, excited to
boast about her students' work, but suddenly shy when asked to pose
for a picture herself.
The more than 70 full-time employees at LMRC clearly take their
cues from the top. Frioli points out numerous times that it is the
staff he supervises that needs to be given all the credit. The staff
members in turn quickly bring over clients to meet, preferring to
give them the credit for their work rather than themselves for their
LMRC staff at last year's Polar Plunge
Frioli spoke proudly of LMRC's more than 70 full-time employees
and their dedication, not only on the job but after hours as well.
The staff is involved with the Polar Plunge as well as the Logan
County Special Olympics. They have an annual coat drive and two food
drives for the food pantry each year. They are involved with the
American Heart Association, breast cancer awareness and the Elks'
annual Christmas baskets for the needy.
When the staff recently collected pledges for the United Way of
Logan County, the total surpassed the amount of money they receive
from United Way. When asked about that, Frioli again gave credit to
the staff, saying, "We do as much as we can to help the community."
And that spirit of being involved in the community is now at work
at the rehab center as clients become involved in outside
Speaking of a new volunteer program that brings clients out into
the community to help, Frioli gave credit to staff. "I try not to
stymie their creativity," he said. "We never want to miss out on the
chance to create opportunities for other people."
Recently two employees created the volunteer program, which takes
clients into the community, painting park benches, straightening
shelves at secondhand stores, cleaning at day cares and serving
potlucks at The Oasis senior center. Twice clients collected money
for Salvation Army's relief efforts in Haiti. Logan County Animal
Control initially wanted rehab clients to come and help with animal
care tasks, but found that the animals enjoyed the TLC the clients
provided so much that the staff hurries to have everything done
before the clients arrive so they can be free to love and socialize
with the animals.
The improvements that Logan-Mason Rehab makes in the quality of
life for their clients are evident in the contagious spirit of the
building. Without LMRC, many clients would have difficulty
completing the simplest tasks related to daily living. Most would
never have dreamed of achieving employment or being able to give
back to the community through service and volunteering.
LMRC sits quietly on Postville Drive weaving a web of unseen
connections through Lincoln. Clients take the skills and positive
attitude gained from the program into the community and positively
affect their own families, the businesses they work and volunteer
for, and all the people they come into contact with every day.
Behind the doors at Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center is a group
of special people helping another group of special people, and their
stories deserve to be told. That is why Gene Frioli, the staff at
Logan-Mason Rehab and the clients deserve to be our Personalities of
[By CANDRA LANDERS; LDN]