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Freedom & Sense of Belonging

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After graduating from high school, Mitchell started struggling with behavioral problems. Though he’s very smart, because he was born with trisomy 13, also called Patau syndrome, he couldn’t have the same freedoms and opportunities as his younger brothers—and it was weighing on him.

Because Minnesota allows special instruction and services to continue to age 22 for people with disabilities, Mitchell still attended school, but his extracurricular opportunities were less. At 19, like any young adult, he wanted to make his own decisions, and he needed a sense of belonging. He found that and so much more once he joined CCRI.

CCRI is a Moorhead-based nonprofit organization that supports people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities—as well as people struggling with mental illness, substance abuse disorder, and homelessness—by helping them:

  • Live more independently.
  • Build life skills.
  • Find and maintain housing.
  • Overcome mental health hurdles.
  • Experience accessible, inclusive activities.

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Launched in 1977 by parents who wanted more for their children than institutionalized care, CCRI has grown from one home serving eight people into an agency serving more than 400 individuals through a variety of person-centered programs.

Mitchell had been on CCRI’s waiting list for a year. Since becoming a client in the early fall of 2023, he’s been thriving. Mitchell can’t speak, but that doesn’t stop him from communicating, connecting with others, and even teasing the people he’s come to know well. He now walks in to CCRI with his head held high, he feels good about himself, and he’s even becoming more independent at home by doing things like putting his dishes away.

“With CCRI, he’s who he wants to be,” his mom, Katie, explains. “He’s just so happy and we’re seeing more independence. It goes hand in hand. If you’re happy with your life, it shows in all aspects of your life.”

The difference CCRI makes in their clients’ lives is life changing, and there are more than 200 people on CCRI’s waiting lists.  

“At CCRI, we believe everyone, regardless of circumstance, deserves a fulfilling life and place to call home,” says Shannon Bock, CCRI executive director. “Mitchell’s story shows the difference CCRI has made in just one person’s life. We could easily tell more than 400 powerful stories of CCRI’s impact.”

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