Donor Spotlight

Contributors to Merakey Allegheny Valley School make it possible for us to maintain and improve our programs and facilities in order to better meet the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are grateful to all of our contributors. See below for some highlights!

Happy Holidays at Merakey AVS!

Merakey Allegheny Valley School (AVS) is grateful to our many friends who brightened up the holiday season, and to our employees who welcomed guests, wrapped gifts and coordinated holiday festivities throughout December.

  • The Middletown, PA office of Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) has a holiday tradition of collecting donations for a local charity. The Hummelstown Campus was, again, the fortunate recipient of this generosity in 2018! We are grateful to the many ICF employees who contributed to support the work of our organization.
  • Guardian Protection (in Western PA and Arizona) distributed holiday gifts to more than 180 residents at the Pittsburgh Campus, and Ewings Mill I and II community homes. In addition to providing presents from each person’s wish lists, Guardian employees visited and sang carols with the individuals we support. Additionally, Santa and Mrs. Claus and the Guardian employees, were happy to pose for photos. Special thanks to Guardian's Communications Manager Mary Lynn Moriarity and her team members for their coordination and tireless efforts!
  • Members of the Robinson Lions Club delivered gifts to clients at the Pittsburgh Campus Stucco House. Club President Joseph Erdeljac presented a check in appreciation of the staff members which will be used to host employee gatherings at the home.
  • Through an Angel Tree displayed by St. Malachy Catholic Church, 161 consumers of the Pittsburgh Campus received gifts.
  • Pittsburgh Campus’ Breakfast with Santa was a huge success thanks to an anonymous donor. The event was coordinated by Campus employees and brought together more than 60 employees and their families. Participants enjoyed breakfast while watching The Polar Express and visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus who had a special gift for each child. Special thanks to Kathy Cooper for donating a tree for the celebration!
  • Pittsburgh Campus held its annual Christmas Concert. More than 20 members of the choir sang carols. Music Director Denise Noel thanked the choir members for their hard work preparing for the event and the many employees who assisted to make the event a huge success.
  • Members of Ascension Lutheran Church and their families visited and delivered gifts to 36 individuals at the Pittsburgh Campus. Thanks to member Joel Randal for organizing the visit. Residential Services Director Kristy Fuller commented, “The individuals were extremely responsive to the visitors. The visitors were so gentle and loving towards the individuals who were smiling and holding hands with their new friends as they were caroling.”
  • Patricia Hillman Miller Campus and Pittsburgh Campus hosted Light Up Nights. Special thanks to Janoski's Farm & Greenhouse for donating a tree for Pittsburgh Campus’ celebration.
  • Members of the Crafton Ingram Rotary Club visited and delivered gifts to the 55 residents of the Patricia Hillman Miller Campus.
  • PHMC employees sponsored an Angel Tree for the residents. A resident Christmas Party was celebrated at the Crafton Ingram Boro Building and staff socials were held for all PHMC employees.
  • Ascension Church Parishioners sang Christmas Carols at PHMC.
  • Laura Burns and her family brought holiday joy to Kacey, Cheyan, and Kayla. This was their first visit to Merakey AVS and everyone very much enjoyed the visit.
  • The individuals at Verree Road celebrated the holiday season on December 16 with a great meal including families, friends and staff members. Santa visited to bring cheer, a lot of smiles, and big hugs for everyone.
  • Members of the Community Service Group at the Zapp Program Center continued its tradition of visiting with the residents of Caring Heights Community Care and Rehab Center. This was the sixth year for the visit which included poems developed by the individuals and a Christmas song using sign language. There was also a poinsettia raffle for the residents of Caring Heights, and a cookie social.
  • Santa and the Greater McKees Rocks Area Rotary visited and provided gifts for the 51 individuals who attend the Kennedy Program Center. Sto-Rox High School Student Choir and Band members were a part of the celebration and sang several holiday songs in each of the classrooms. Resident Trudy thanked the students and the Rotarians at the end of the visit and distributed homemade ornaments to each of the guests.
  • Congratulations to the Kennedy Program Center’s SC-1 Classroom for 1st place in the holiday door decorating contest!
  • The Kennedy and Edward J. Zapp Program Centers held their Annual Christmas Party at the Sheraton on December 7. The Grinch tried to steal the party, but Santa chased the Grinch away and saved the day!
  • On December 20, Attorney Paul Rennie of the Law Firm Dickie, McCamey, P.C. and son Zachary Rennie shared their musical talents with those at the Edward J. Zapp Program Center. Christmas Carols were sung and when George requested “Silent Night” – he sang loud and clear for all to hear! Atty. Reenie shared that coming to Merakey AVS at Christmastime to see the individuals smiling and singing makes him feel great and puts him in the Christmas Spirit.
  • Holy Trinity Polish National Catholic Church and The Women’s Committee, Carnegie Museum of Art provided holiday festivities for the individuals we support.
  • Students of Holy Trinity Catholic School shared sweet treats for the enjoyment of all.
  • Many thanks to Judy Heck and the members of the Clinton United Presbyterian Women’s Group for providing holiday gifts for 8 individuals.
  • Teresa, Tess, Olivia and staff members Kristen Bellay and Sarah Poremba volunteered for The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.
  • Slippery Rock Program Center received a visit from Santa during its Christmas party on December 21. Good cheer and smiles were found throughout the building.
  • Slippery Rock Program Center gave the administrative wing and nursing area a holiday makeover with a door decorating contest. Congratulations to the Senior Center for designing the winning door.
  • Hummelstown Campus enjoyed their 3rd annual Holiday Festival including a catered lunch from Aroogas. There were plenty of games, a photo both and gifts! Funding for this event was made possible by the Walter F. and Ellen H. Nicoden Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.
  • The Zion Women of Zion Lutheran Church of Union Deposit donated a variety of presents such as cologne, pajamas, homemade mittens, lotion, lip gloss and movies for 20 individuals of the Hummelstown Campus.

We are fortunate to have so many organizations and individuals partner with us not only throughout the holiday season but also throughout the year. We are grateful to all who bring joy to Merakey AVS!

Advocacy Groups Unite to Support the Troops

Members of the Advocacy Group in Slippery Rock, PA wanted to give back to the community. House Manager Theresa Morrow and Advocacy Group leader, informed the group about Operation Gratitude.

The project is a way to thank our troops who serve overseas by sending care packages to help brighten their day. Packages were in the beginning of December, so they will hopefully arrive in time for the holidays. Word spread to the Pittsburgh Advocacy Groups and they started collections at their sites as well. David and Lisa, members from the Pittsburgh Area, travelled to Slippery Rock to deliver their collection boxes and meet some of the members of the Slippery Rock Advocacy Group. Everyone was excited about what they accomplished. Several large boxes of items were collected, and many individuals also made cards to thank the troops for their service.

Heather, an Advisory Member from Slippery Rock said, "I feel like we really made a big difference doing this."

Advocacy Groups Unite to Support the Troops
Advocacy Groups Unite to Support the Troops

PVGP Victory Lap

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP), presented by the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation, hosted on October 24 its annual Victory Lap at The Hofbräuhaus on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Two hundred guests gathered to congratulate and thank sponsors, charity ambassadors, and volunteers.

Charity ambassador Liz spoke on behalf of Merakey AVS and thanked those attending for their dedication to the event. We are grateful for the commitment of the Merakey AVS ambassadors and volunteers who enthusiastically represent our organization. Since the PVGP’s start in 1983, it has raised nearly $5 million for its two charities – Merakey AVS and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh. To learn more about the PVGP visit


Click here to watch Liz's speech on YouTube!