55 Years of Service
Moultrie County Beacon, Inc
1968 - 2023
Where were you in 1968? In our nation at this time, there was a rumbling movement toward the upholding of human rights and freedoms, and many grassroots movements were growing, supporting and educating others about their constitutional rights and responsibilities as members of the HUMAN race to move toward equitable distribution of those rights.
In Moultrie County, Illinois there was activism growing among the families of individuals who had been determined to have a developmental disability. For many families there had been no system of support established in communities beyond the educational system, which was only expected to support a child into early adulthood. For some families, they were visiting their loved ones, who were not living in the family home with them, having relegated the delivery of support and care of their loved one to residential placement in a state operated facility somewhere in another part of the state. The options for support and professional guidance were not available in community settings.
The enactment of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act or DD Act in 1963 resulted in much better understanding, improvements in professional education, as well as access and improved safety in institutional facilities. The enactment of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act), was conceived by President John Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Dr. Robert Cooke. These changes focused on the efforts of families, professionals, and state agencies to improve support for all people with developmental disabilities.
Once the DD Act was implemented it continued to evolve as knowledge, understanding, awareness and attention was brought to the rights of individuals with disabilities. Changes to the DD Act that focused on the efforts of families, professionals, and state agencies to improve support for all people with disabilities were eventually implemented. These changes were driven by families and communities who continue to support and improve the quality of services to provide real assistance and real opportunities for choices in how those individuals are able to live their lives, as an equal to others in the community.
Since the earliest implementation of programs for individuals with disabilities at the Moultrie County Beacon, Inc. in 1968 our mission has been:
The Moultrie County Beacon, Inc. operates on the principle that all people with developmental disabilities and mental illness have strengths, abilities, and value to their community; the constitutional, civic and moral right to live, work, play and worship in the safe and healthy community of their choice and must be treated with dignity and respect.
The Moultrie County Beacon is committed to providing services that empower people with disabilities, and their families, to make informed choices regarding life decisions.
The Moultrie County Beacon will support the families of persons served by acting as an advocate in the community and provide them with leadership, compassion and respect.
The Moultrie County Beacon, will continue to strive for excellence in service delivery enabling people with disabilities to achieve their highest potential and ensuring the future of the organization for generations to come.
Yes it was the families of our most vulnerable citizens in Moultrie County who drove the mission and principles of service that have been established and improved upon in the 55 years as a not-for-profit organization in Sullivan, Illinois. What started as a sheltered workshop where people worked together gaining skills and friendships that could last a lifetime, grew through the years to stretch beyond service throughout the weekday, to 24 hour residential services, nestled among the neighborhoods in communities of Moultrie County. Also more community members were being employed by this not-for-profit organization, becoming advocates for the friends they have made, while assisting them with gaining access to social opportunities, vocational and personal skill building and bridging gaps between other community members not subject to segregation and undignified living conditions.
Through the 1970’s and 1980’s individuals with developmental disabilities that were unable to live independently and in the family home, were residing in nursing and intermediate facilities with elderly patients. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 changed the way residential services were to be provided to individuals with developmental disabilities or mental illness, citing their human right to live in a normal and least restrictive environment as all citizens of the community. States began implementation of these services thereafter and in 1990, the first Community Integrated Living Arrangement residential home was opened in Sullivan by the Moultrie County Beacon, providing community living and support to the families and loved ones of Moultrie County who had previously been residing in state operated facilities. We welcomed home family members and have provided them with life-spanning services becoming trusted and loving providers and partners in advocating for their right to a life of dignity and respect, and not one iota less.
The Moultrie County Beacon, Inc. is subject to regular monitoring and systems of improvements that are ongoing and substantial. Throughout the years, the direction of this agency has been driven by Executive Director, Susan Sullivan Rauch, a hometown girl who began her career among these walls, perhaps being personally involved in the building, or tearing down of many of them, both literally and figuratively. Beyond her fearless drive for a progressive vision of the agency, she knows that change and growth while being substantially in compliance with all laws and statutes set the standard for a quality of care that we as fellow citizens can be proud of.
The Moultrie County Beacon has twice become accredited to a higher standard of care beyond that which is legally necessary to provide services, but to a standard that is higher, meeting national and international standards. Our current accreditation is with the Council on Quality and Leadership. Our employees and direct line staff commit to these standards beginning with over 140 hours of training, rigorous background checks, educational requirements and the ability to support the persons in their care with the utmost dignity and respect. Not unlike our Executive Director, employees who come to work here at this agency, find it to be a place that they can further their careers, move up into positions that give them one foot in the world of direct care and one foot in the administration of these standards while advocating for these individuals who have been treated differently, through no fault of their own. Proudly these devoted employees, now move the agency forward into an even better format for provision of services.
These changes to service delivery are known as the Settings Rule. This is where the federal government intended for the advancement of rights for individuals with developmental disabilities to take us. Instead the implementation that was left up to the states, had continued to suppress the ability for citizens with disabilities to interact and work among other citizens. Implemented on the heels of Covid-19, our agency can boast of the advancement of rights upheld by this rule. Settings rule is meant to truly support the choices made by the individuals receiving services according to their dreams, hopes and visions. Restrictions to individuals rights are scrutinized and plans for removing restrictions, gaining more authority over their lives, while having the support and access that they are entitled to is an ultimate goal for many. We welcome the opportunity to assist in this growth, knowing that for many of those in our care, they have been underestimated in ability.
Currently having individuals with developmental disabilities working in our communities, sharing in the other responsibilities as full citizens, with all the rights and freedoms that are given all, is one example of how we have seen these individuals shoot from the starting gate and burst into a new world that opened up for them. Our community welcomed these truly skilled workers into the roles of the employed and involved. You will see these individuals in all venues of the community. They will become your friends, your coworkers, your fellow Americans, building the strength of every community in our state and nation.
Please join in celebrating 55 years of service, from the early days of civil rights in 1968 to the 21st century in 2023. We applaud all of the efforts made by the citizens who came before us, and we commit to carry the torch forward following our philosophy which is:
At the Moultrie County Beacon, we believe that paid and natural support for people with intellectual disabilities must focus on full community participation, with opportunities to work, live and engage alongside neighbors. This calls for a constant re-examination of our practices and outcomes.
As a provider agency we support people to create the lives they want to live – lives that we ourselves would wish to live. To be successful at this we first must help people hear their own heart’s desire and to know their own minds, rather than mistaking other’s wishes or their staff’s opinions for their own.
Our agency is committed to person centered values as each person we support is capable of directing his or her own life.
The unique needs and gifts of each person we support must be the primary guides for selection of the supports for that person. We will commit to promoting the well being of all aspects of the individual I support, based on a trusting and professional relationship, supporting the rights of individuals to make informed decisions even if those decisions involve an element of risk. The colors of life’s journey should be bold and brilliant. We bring bold color when we strive for welcoming opportunities and allowing for self-determination.
Those in roles of support will maintain competency with continuous learning and collaboration with others. Decisions will be made based on the wishes of the individuals we serve, safeguarding and respecting the confidentiality and privacy of those individuals.
We will assure that their human rights, as well as civil rights and responsibilities, promote justice, fairness, and equity for all individuals receiving support, and all other individuals in the community in which we serve. We strive to promote each person for whom we support as a valuable member of society, and honor their choices, preference, abilities and opinions. We vow to assist their development and maintenance of relationships, celebrating and learning from the rich experiences of life, which may include triumphs and failures.
We will advocate for the right to community participation, inclusion and equal justice for all individuals.