Legislators Tour Murray Center

March 15, 2016

(Pictured above L to R): Mark Decker, Sheila Simon, Paul Schimpf, Rep. Terri Bryant, Mike Hall, Rep. Charlie Meier and Sharee Langenstein.


Murray staff member, Matthew and Representative Meier.

Illinois legislators and candidates gathered at Murray Center in Centralia, IL on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 to tour and learn about the facility.

Legislative visitors included: Mike Hall, representing Congressman Shimkus’s office, Rep. Terri Bryant, Mark Decker representing Rep. John Caveletto’s office, Sheila Simon candidate 58th Senate District, Paul Schimpf  candidate 58th Senate District, Sharee Langenstein candidate 58th Senate District, and Rep. Charlie Meier. Also, J. B. Meier, the DHS Liaison participated in the event.


Sheila Simon, Mark and Rita Winkeler.


Sharee Langenstein and John.


Paul Schimpf, Mark and Rita Winkeler.


Parent Ray Vest, Paul Schimpf and Mike Hall.


Mikey and Representative Bryant.


Paul Schimpf and Matthew.


Representative Bryant and Jane.

The tour began at 1 p.m., and the above people plus over 20 parents/guardians  toured the Community Building, visiting classrooms and the Bistro. The Bistro is a small restaurant at the center where staff and individuals are able to purchase small meals and snacks. Several individuals who live at Murray Center are the waiters and waitresses at the Bistro. After visiting this building the group toured Fir Cottage, and Center Director Mary Ann Smith explained the many different services the center provides: occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy  and recreational therapy are just some of the services. The group then toured Elm Cottage, a cottage where the most medically fragile individuals live. The cottage director, Misty Diehl, explained the many medical issues the individuals deal with and how the nursing staff serves these individuals. Phil, a Murray individual, welcomed the group using a speech communication device that he uses by pressing it with his cheek. During the visit to Elm, parents/guardians shared stories of the success their loved one had living at Murray Center, and Monica Sobczak explained that her sister Madonna, age 58, is the second longest living  individual with Rett’s Disease. She credited the fantastic nursing care Madonna has received at Murray for this longevity.


Representative Meier, Rita Winkeler, Center Director Mary Ann Smith and Nancy Langhauser, parent.


Andy and Paul Schimpf.

The group  continued the tour, seeing the therapeutic swimming pool and the outdoor recreational areas. The group then met and they were able to discuss the reasons why Murray Center is so important not just to Centralia, but to all of central and southern Illinois.

Following are some quotes from participating individuals:

Paul Schimpf: No one can see from pictures how wonderful this place is. It is the love that is overflowing here that makes all the difference. It is just like two plants. The plant that is nourished with love and care will flourish and grow. The plant that does not receive this care will wither and die. Murray is the plant that is nourished and loved.

Sharee Langenstein: I came to Murray knowing in my head that Murray must remain open. After visiting here and seeing the love and care the individuals receive here in their home I now know it in my heart. Murray must remain open.


Phil showing his communication device to the visitors.

Sheila Simon: It is so very obvious that this is a community. There is no isolation here. It is a community of everyone sharing and caring.

Mark Decker representing John Cavaletto: Rep. Cavaletto has supported Murray Center for over forty years. He regrets not being here today to share this special place with everyone.

Mike Hall representing John Shimkus: John’s parents are from Centralia. Murray Center has been part of his life for over 40 years, and he has always supported the center and fought to keep the center open. Murray is a home to these individuals.

Rep Meier: It is amazing as I walk through Murray Center now to see the old, wonderful atmosphere returning, the volunteers, the parents / guardians, and the caring staff providing the best home for these individuals. This is not an institution. It is a home.

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