Current News & Events


Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Visits Pittsburgh

On February 26, the Music Therapy Department at Merakey Allegheny Valley School in Coraopolis, PA welcomed Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) principal flautist Lorna McGhee. Ms. McGhee collaborated with Merakey AVS’s Music Therapist Board Certified Denise Noël and Johnna Mernick to design and facilitate two sessions specifically geared toward the participants. In addition to learning about the flute, attendees were treated to an interactive preview of some of the selections that were to be played at the PSO concert the following day. They were given the opportunity to engage with Lorna in some improvisatory music-making of their own. The visit coincidentally fell a few days before World Music Therapy Day on March 1 and was a fun and engaging way for to experience music therapy in a new way.

Special thanks to Ms. McGhee for her time, talent, and flexibility, and to Suzanne Perrino and Adriel Lyles in the PSO’s Community Engagement Department for arranging the day. We can’t wait for next time!

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Visits Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Visits Pittsburgh

PHMC Celebrates Black History Month

During the month of February, Merakey AVS’ Patricia Hillman Miller Campus (PHMC) program staff and individuals collaborated with residential staff to share the diversity within the walls of PHMC and created unique ways to recognize Black History Month.

The creative path between these departments shaped ideas, opinions, communication, and best of all, teamwork. Through shared experiences, creativity took hold and blossomed into beautiful works of art that are proudly displayed at PHMC.

This partnership shows that when we work towards a common goal, the results unify a diverse group of individuals.

Black History Month Black History Month Black History Month

Oh, What a Night!

A record donation was made to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP) charities earlier this month.

The check presentation for the 2018 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix was held at the Dancing with the Cars event on Valentine’s Day. Hosted by the PVGP’s Presenting Sponsor, the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation (GPADF). This event was the preview for the 2019 Pittsburgh International Auto Show.

Guests gathered at the Ford stage for the unveiling of the check to the PVGP charities. Elizabeth from Merakey AVS expressed her gratitude for the all the PVGP supporters. She also spoke about her exciting journey toward reaching her goal to one day live independently and become an advocate for people with disabilities.

The GPADF then presented a $410,000 check to the PVGP, Merakey AVS and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh – a record donation!

Merakey AVS had 40 guests at the event including four ambassadors and their accompanying staff members. Everyone enjoyed dancing, delicious food, amazing cars and great company.

Merakey AVS is grateful to the PVGP and all its sponsors, donors, volunteers, drivers and other friends for their commitment to the individuals that we support.

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is the nation’s largest vintage street race with 10 days of racing, car shows, parties, parades and motorsport events. In 2019, the PVGP will celebrate its 37th annual race through the streets of Schenley Park. The PVGP’s mission is to produce a world-class vintage automotive event to raise funds for autistic and intellectually/developmentally disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh region. Because of the generous support and contributions from volunteers and sponsors, the PVGP has donated more than $5 million since 1983. Merakey AVS is a proud and grateful beneficiary of the PVGP!


Sweet Delivery for Allegheny Valley School

Sweet Delivery Sweet Delivery

On February 15, Merakey Allegheny Valley School received a delivery of fresh flowers from Patti Harding, the owner of Muetzel’s Florist & Gifts.

Many thanks to Cindy Caldwell, Patti Daly and Valerie Loy for making ten beautiful flower arrangements. We are grateful for the fresh flowers that brightened the day!


Ewings Mill I Art Project

Heather, Kelly, Linda, Patricia, Catherine, and Anna from Merakey Allegheny Valley School, made a beautiful canvas project to hang in their home. The ladies worked together to complete six squares of canvas that completed a full picture. The artwork is proudly displayed at the Ewings Mill I home.

Ewings Mill I Art Project
Ewings Mill I Art Project
Ewings Mill I Art Project
Ewings Mill I Art Project

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 Services (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 20th, 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!

Holidays at 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

Socktoberfest Donation to Merakey AVS

A big thank you to Dassa McKinney Elementary School and teacher Lindsey Doolan in West Sunbury for choosing Merakey Allegheny Valley School in Slippery Rock, PA as the recipient of their Socktoberfest event. Children collected more than 3,000 pairs of socks during October. It took two vehicles to pick up the many boxes filled with socks!

Socktoberfest Donation to Merakey AVS