Current News & Events

03.10.2019

Merakey Presents at Disability Summit

On March 3, Merakey participated the Disability & Mental Health Summit hosted by Representative Dan Miller. The day celebrated the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act and brought together hundreds of participants for workshops and to learn about community resources.

Staff Development Executive Carol Erzen and Pathfinder Elizabeth Humphrey participated in the presentation “Living My Good Life – How It’s Achievable.” When speaking about the life she is now leading Elizabeth stated, “I am so grateful to have this. I am living my life and I’m able to spread my wings!” Community member Lisa Humphreys attended the presentation, which was toward the very end of the day, and commented, “The day has been a lot about legislation. It’s great to see people turn it around and talk about hope.”

03.10.2019

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Pre-Concert at Pittsburgh Campus

Max Blair, an oboist and featured soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) visited Merakey Allegheny Valley School's Pittsburgh Campus for a special pre-concert event in conjunction with the full orchestra performance on February 25. PSO’s Senior V.P. of Learning and Community Engagement Suzanne Perrino expressed an interest in making music education more enjoyable for people supported by Merakey AVS, and together with our Program Director Diana Hoeffler and Music Therapist Denise Noel, they designed this “up close and personal,” pre-concert event.

Why is there a pre-concert event? To learn about classical music and the oboe. Max also talked about the feelings a person can have while listening to music. After he played a song, he asked how everyone felt, happy or sad? Excerpts from Mozart’s Oboe Concerto made attendees feel happy; during Strauss’ Radetzky March, Max encouraged everyone to match the music tempo with clapping.

“I really like the oboe,” commented Shawn. “I like all kinds of music. My favorite singer is Whitney Houston.”

John complimented Max after the performance, “You did a nice job.”

03.10.2019

Dancing with the Cars

The check presentation for the 2019 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP) was held at the Dancing with the Cars event on February 13. Hosted by the PVGP’s Presenting Sponsor, the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation (GPADF), this event was the preview for the 2020 Pittsburgh International Auto Show.

Guests gathered at the Ford stage for the unveiling of the check to the PVGP charities. Elizabeth and Tony from Merakey Allegheny Valley School expressed their gratitude to all the PVGP supporters, and talked about being a part of the events. The GPADF then presented a $351,500 check to the PVGP, Merakey AVS and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh!

Merakey had 40 guests at the event including 5 ambassadors who are supported by Merakey AVS. 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.

03.10.2019

Partners in Kindness with Guardian Protection

Merakey Allegheny Valley School is grateful to Guardian Protection for hosting Merakey for the 5th Annual Partners in Kindness event at the Guardian office in Warrendale, PA. Jonathan, Shequala, Mark, Sharon, Cindy, Linda and Anna greeted Guardian employees as they came through the cafeteria. Everyone was handed an “I’m a Merakey Superhero” magnet, raffle ticket for The Terrible Towel® prizes and a dessert. A highlight of the gathering was Cindy playing the piano and taking requests from the crowd. Guests played cornhole and watched a slideshow of pictures throughout the years of the Guardian – Merakey partnership.

“Seeing everyone together warms my heart,” commented Guardian employee Tracey Diehm. “We’re so appreciative of our relationship with Merakey.”

Thanks to Guardian's Monica Zurawsky and Mary Lynn Moriarity and the entire Marketing Team for their dedication to and coordination of the event, and to all the Guardian employees who stopped by to say hello and to spend time with everyone from Merakey. We are grateful to Guardian Protection for its support of our mission.

02.07.2020

Kevin Volunteers for the Humane Society

Kevin, an individual from Merakey Allegheny Valley School, has been volunteering once a week at the Beaver County Humane Society in Center Township, PA for over 10 years. He unfolds newspapers to get them ready for shredding and spends time in the cat room. holding, petting and entertaining the cats. Kevin is known as the “cat cuddler” to the staff members and volunteers at the humane society!

Kevin
Kevin
02.07.2020

Merakey AVS Visits Archangel Gabriel Catholic School

Elizabeth from Merakey Allegheny Valley School, along with Dorothy Gordon and Amy Rocini, were guest speakers at the Archangel Gabriel Catholic School to kick off Catholic School week. In the past, students from the school have supported Merakey AVS by collecting and donating Halloween candy, making sandwiches for Special Olympics volunteers, playing games and visiting with people at the Pittsburgh Campus, and showcasing their singing talents during the holiday season.

Liz rounded out the program by speaking about her person-centered plan and how Merakey AVS helps her live her best life. She also shared her original poem, “I Can’t Be Put Down.”

Each student received a set of “I am a Merakey Superhero” stickers, as well as information about Merakey to take home and share with their family. We are grateful for Archangel Gabriel Catholic School’s partnership!

Elizabeth at Archangel Gabriel
Elizabeth at Archangel Gabriel

Elizabeth at Archangel Gabriel

02.07.2020

A Nod to Nostalgia

On January 30, the Senior Center at the Merakey AVS Slippery Rock Program Center in PA had a Black and White Luncheon for all individuals aged 60 and above. The room was transformed into an elegant black and white dining hall, and everyone dressed in their best black and white outfits for the occasion.

Crafted by the individuals from the Senior Center, snowball shaped soaps with a hidden surprise in the middle were the party favors. Everyone enjoyed a homemade lunch that included potato soup, meatballs, a chocolate vanilla trifle, a black and white cake, and hand-dipped dark chocolate covered marshmallows.

Following the meal, everyone was treated to a special magic show performed by program aide Gordon Crossley. The seniors also had fun taking pictures in the photo booth and watching classic episodes of I Love Lucy.

02.07.2020

Eagle Scout Project at Pittsburgh Campus

For his Eagle Scout project, Tim Eng completed two initiatives at Merakey Allegheny Valley School Pittsburgh Campus, where his uncle receives supports. Tim’s projects included refurbishing T-Rex VP and building a picnic table. T-Rex VP is now painted in Merakey colors! “This project is going to have a huge impact,” commented Tim. “I thank every person for helping me achieve my goal!”

T-Rex VP was originally donated to Merakey AVS in 2003 by Nannette and Ira Gordon. The sculpture was one of the 100 dinosaurs spotted around Pittsburgh in the summer of 2003. He was part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History's DinoMite Days which brought the wonders of dinosaurs, art and science to life in ways never seen before. The fiberglass dinosaurs, meticulously decorated by artists and students, were found around town in public plazas, on streets, and in front of buildings.

T-Rex VP
T-Rex VP
T-Rex VP
T-Rex VP
01.10.2020

Gwen Smith - DSP of the Quarter

Gwen Smith

Congratulations Gwen Smith, Direct Support Professional of the Quarter! Gwen has been a DSP with Merakey for more than 25 years. Her dedication, reliability, and smile are just a few of the many attributes Gwen shares with the gentlemen at the Merakey Church Road home.

“We are beyond fortunate to have an employee like Gwen,” commented Administrator Donna Stuckey. The DSP of the Quarter award has been made possible through Steven’s Fund to recognize Merakey Allegheny Valley School DSPs.

The fund was created in 2017 in memory of Steven Garlick by his mother Betsy Friedman.

01.10.2020

Thank You Guardian Protection!

Guardian Protection distributed holiday gifts to more than 180 individuals at the Merakey Allegheny Valley School, 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 holiday carols. They ended their visit with delicious treats and mocktails from the ladies at Ewings Mill I and II. Special thanks to Guardian's Marketing Specialist Monica Zurawsky, Communications Manager Mary Lynn Moriarity and their entire team for their coordination and tireless efforts!

01.10.2020

Local Rotary Clubs Support Merakey AVS

Santa and the Greater Mckees Rocks 15136 Rotary Club gave gifts to the individuals who attend Merakey Allegheny Valley School’s Kennedy Program Center in Pittsburgh during a recent visit. The Sto Rox School District High School Student Choir was part of the celebration. They sang several holiday songs in each of the classrooms, where many danced and swayed along to the music. Rotarians and choir members received a homemade ornament from individuals at Kennedy.

The Crafton Ingram Rotary and friends visited the Patricia Hillman Miller Campus and brought gifts for all. The holiday spirit was displayed when everyone joined in to sing Christmas carols.

Both groups received The Terrible Towel® cookie as a thank you for their participation in the holiday celebrations and for making the season brighter for everyone.

12.31.2019

Opening Their Hearts This Holiday Season

Team members from Merakey AVS Countryview home collected holiday gifts for the youth supported by Merakey in Western PA. Employees were very responsive and incredibly generous, filling donation boxes at several locations. Merakey Foundation Board Member Dorothy Pollon heard about the initiative and was eager to join in, donating a variety of gifts to help brighten the holiday season for so many! Representatives from Merakey’s Behavioral Health and Education and Autism Divisions donated toys, games, coats, gloves, hats and more for the youth in their programs. “This will be a truly amazing holiday season because of this effort,” commented Regional Behavioral Health Director Lori Grimes-Harvey. “We are so grateful!” “I’m blessed to have wonderful coworkers who want to help others have a happy holiday,” commented Countryview House Manager JoAnne Kimble. “I’m thrilled that we can make a difference this year, and already look forward to doing it again in 2020!”

A big thank you to all who Opened Their Heart this holiday season for the youth supported by Merakey programs!

Toy Drive
Toy Drive
Toy Drive
Toy Drive
12.23.2019

Displaying Merakey's Mission During the Holidays

A seasonal community outing to Feeney’s Garden Center and Nursery in Feasterville, PA on December 13 provided an opportunity for the Nursing and Occupational Therapy Departments at Merakey Allegheny Valley School in Philadelphia to display the mission of Enriching lives by providing exceptional services through an individualized approach. The Core Value of Compassion was also demonstrated by the group when they made a donation to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House during their visit. Everyone in attendance participated in a wonderfully varied “sensory” holiday experience!

AVS visits Feeney's
AVS visits Feeney's
12.16.2019

Celebrating the Holidays

More than 350 people who work and receive supports at the Merakey AVS Zapp and Kennedy Centers celebrated the holidays at their annual Christmas party at the Sheraton Moon Township. Music was provided by Merakey’s Supervisor of Employment Services DJ Joe Ledrick. Everyone was dressed in holiday attire and enjoyed dancing, socializing and a lunch served by Merakey employees. While Santa visited with each individual, the Grinch arrived to try to spoil the fun…but he was no match for Santa who presented personalized gifts to each attendee. Many attendees even brought letters to hand-deliver to Santa.

“We sincerely appreciate the many employees from numerous departments - including Program, Psychology, Social Services, Staff Development, Medical and Residential - who came together to support this wonderful holiday event,” commented Program Director Jan Harvilla.

Zapp Holidays
Zapp Holidays
Zapp Holidays
Zapp Holidays

Zapp Holidays