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The 10th Anniversary of MRA Eastern Chapter

Learn about the history of MRA Eastern Chapter from founding member Kim Gee.

 

I had just moved to St. Louis from Springfield, where I had been President of the Southwest MRA Chapter. To give a bit of history, the chapter in Springfield had been defunct for about 10 years, so a group of us had gotten together, developed a board of directors, had written by-laws, and then obtained approval from the state MRA board to reform the Southwest Chapter. It was finally off the ground and we had begun having some well-attended events.

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When I moved, it did not take long to realize how very much I missed MRA.  I felt like it had been a huge benefit to me in so many ways. For example:

 

  • It brought together agencies that served PWD in a way that helped them to be more connected, to develop personal relationships, and to get to know one another on a level that made it much easier to then connect clients in the future.
  • It combined educational opportunities with networking.
  • It was a way to connect VR and education providers and other resources in the community.
  • It developed leadership skills for VR and for our partners because we worked together as a board.
  • We were able to recognize people for their good work through the annual Awards banquet.
  • We were able to support PWD through the Rich Walker fund (like the Barbara Parker fund).
  • It was just FUN!!!

After I moved I talked to Jay Mendell, and it turned out that the MRA chapter in St. Louis had also disbanded 8-10 years previously. Jay and I had difficulty even finding people who knew if there were old by-laws, any remaining money, etc. from the old chapter. We decided that having an Eastern Chapter just made sense, for all the reasons listed above. We reached out individually to people we knew and invited them to be a part of reforming the chapter, then started scheduling meetings and mixers to gauge interest. I think people were excited to be a part of something new. Our first treasurer kept our initial $300 in his sock drawer until we could get our by-laws together and a bank account opened!!  Then we begged, cajoled, and sometimes manipulated people to be a part.  J  We scheduled trivia night as a fundraiser, trainings as a way to be of service and try to earn a little income, and the banquet as a way to recognize the good work of the professionals in the St. Louis area.  We tried having a newsletter, we bugged people with emails, and we were persistent.  Then – before we knew it, MRA Eastern Chapter was an established thing in STL.  Very exciting.

I am so proud of the chapter.  It has exceeded my wildest dreams with actual money in the bank, regular events, and people reaching out to us to “sponsor” their events.  How amazing is that!?