Archived News & Events, April 2018

04.23.2018

2018 Swim-A-Thon Raises Over $2,000!

The annual Swim-A-Thon “splashed off” at the Merakey Allegheny Valley School Pittsburgh Campus indoor pool on April 2. Ten students from Seneca Valley High School were paired with individuals supported by Merakey AVS to swim laps while making new friends. This year, the event was run by Seneca Valley senior Sophia Gaguzis, who raised over $2,000! Funds will support the purchase of recreation and sensory equipment.

It is inspiring to have students from Seneca Valley run a swim-a-thon each year to raise funds to support our programs,” commented, Executive Director of Development and Communications, Dorothy Gordon. “Swimming is a fantastic activity for the individuals supported by Merakey AVS as it develops strength and provides those who utilize a wheelchair for mobility to move freely in the water. The interaction between all the participants is wonderful.

The project began six years ago when a Seneca Valley senior Jackie Curtz had an idea to combine her senior year service project with her love of swimming. The individuals supported by Merakey AVS at the Pittsburgh Campus have enjoyed a fun-filled day of recreation ever since. The total raised over the years from the program amounts to more than $9,200.

This project brings high school students and individuals together to work towards a common goal, and I think it is important to interact with individuals of all ages and stages of life to fully understand the world in which we live in today,” Jackie said. “The most rewarding thing is to see the positive impact that this project has on the individuals and volunteers who participate,” Jackie commented. “It is awesome that each year a new student has put their own touch on the project. I have loved watching it grow and impact so many people.

2018 Swim-A-Thon Raises Over $2,000!
2018 Swim-A-Thon Raises Over $2,000! 
2018 Swim-A-Thon Raises Over $2,000! 
2018 Swim-A-Thon Raises Over $2,000!
04.16.2018

Good Deeds Day at Merakey AVS

Good Deeds DayOn April 15, members of the Angels from the Heart Charitable Foundation visited Merakey Allegheny Valley School for Good Deeds Day 2018!

Dressed as princes, princesses and superheroes, members performed for nearly 60 individuals supported by Merakey Allegheny Valley School, staff and family members. The audience sang along to familiar songs and couldn't stop dancing in their seats. The cast members invited the crowd to participate, and encouraged them to dance and sing along. After the performance, everyone in attendance enjoyed meeting and posing for pictures with the cast. The individuals had a great time, as did the rest of the audience. The individuals and staff are grateful for Angels from the Heart for sharing their talents and time with them.

Good Deeds Day is a global initiative that unites people from more than 75 different countries to do good deeds to benefit others and the planet. For more information, you can check out the official Good Deeds Day website here.

04.16.2018

Merakey Allegheny Valley School Celebration

Merakey Allegheny Valley School in Hummelstown had a wonderful week celebrating our new name! On April 2, a luncheon was held for the individuals and staff, complete with an afternoon snack and cake. Throughout the week, posters were made and hung around the building. Everyone was celebrating our new name with great excitement!

04.16.2018

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Performs at Merakey AVS

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Performs at Merakey AVSOn March 20, musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) held its outreach concert for more than 100 guests from Merakey Allegheny Valley School (AVS). The program included songs from Bach, Ravel, Haydn and Mendelssohn. After the performance, musicians and attendees mingled and posed for pictures. This was Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong’s last concert at Merakey AVS as he is leaving Pittsburgh for Oregon where he will be the Music Director with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra.

We are grateful to the PSO musicians for sharing their time and talents with us!

04.06.2018

SPRC Hits a Home Run for Merakey

Inspired by the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening day, the Slippery Rock Program Center celebrated the new Merakey name with an opening day of their own! In honor of the name change, the entire building was decorated with a baseball theme and an indoor game of baseball. Marci Mustello, attending on behalf of Third District Representative Mike Kelly, threw the game’s first pitch.

Baseball activities continued throughout the day, including the decoration of Merakey team pennants, a wiener toss, a baseball card photo booth and the day’s most popular event: The Wiener Race. Staff members Mary Loos, Jade Gindy and Kelsey Lackey donned hot dog costumes and raced through the program center. Kelsey Lackey won the race, but everyone had a blast.

Butler County Commissioner Kevin Boozel also attended the event, issuing an official Celebration Proclamation and presenting it to SPRC administrator Theresa Cox and program director Vicki Doverspike. Kevin stayed and enjoyed the baseball themed lunch with clients and staff, comprised of hot dogs, baked beans, perogies and nachos. He also had the honor of cutting the first piece of the cake, which he helped serve to everyone.

For the Slippery Rock Program Center, “Merakey Day” was definitely a home run!

SPRC Hits a Home Run for Merakey SPRC Hits a Home Run for Merakey SPRC Hits a Home Run for Merakey

04.06.2018

Snow No Match for Kennedy Program Center's Merakey Celebration

With a cheer and the wave of Terrible Towels, a parade of clients and staff braved a spring snow to launch the Merakey brand at the Kennedy Program Center on April 2. State Rep. Anita Kulik was on hand for the sign unveiling. Long-time Merakey employees Gary Hoffman, Mary Wilson and Lori Tyson and several clients assisted. Rep. Kulik expressed her congratulations and thanks to Merakey Allegheny Valley School for not only being in the community but being a part of it, noting how involved Merakey is in her district.

Inside, the hallways were decorated with paper chains and spinners in the colors of the new logo. Doors featured creative Merakey themes – all prepared by clients and program staff. The centerpiece was a wall-sized puzzle of the word Merakey, with clients assembling the numbered pieces. Everyone donned a Merakey t-shirt for the day, too!

Merakey officials Gary Hoffman, Regional Executive Director – Western Region; Carol Erzen, Staff Development Executive; Janet Harvilla, Program Director; Dorothy Gordon, Executive Director, Development & Communications; and Rep. Kulik joined in a celebratory signature green punch toast while the outdoor grill was firing up for a ball park themed lunch for clients and staff. SInce Merakey shared the launch day with the Pirates home opener, lunch fare rivalled the ball park’s -- hot dogs, nachos, pierogies, baked beans, soft pretzels, cotton candy, and a Merakey cake!

The fun-filled day wrapped up with baseball songs, videos and games played throughout the service areas and on the Promethean Board, enjoyed with Babe Ruth candy bars, Big League Chew (gum), and Cracker Jack snacks!

Snow No Match for Kennedy Program Center's Merakey Celebration 
Snow No Match for Kennedy Program Center's Merakey Celebration
Snow No Match for Kennedy Program Center's Merakey Celebration
04.06.2018

Merakey/AVS Takes the Leprechaun Challenge

The Leprechaun ChallengeDuring the month of March, the AVS Psychology Department presented the Philadelphia Program Center with a challenge, “How do you trap a Leprechaun?” The question was presented on the Psychology office door, and staff who had their picture taken were made into leprechauns themselves! Each of the program areas participated in the activities, which included a Leprechaun photo booth, story reading of “How to Catch a Leprechaun” by Adam Wallace, and crafting Leprechaun traps.

To the staff, the project exemplified what it means to “put your whole heart into your job.” Staff and clients were nominated and voted for different superlatives, such as “Most Creative”, “Most Likely to Trap a Leprechaun” and “Sneakiest Trap”. Each of the departments had a blast, dressing up in tchotchkes, green beads and tiny Leprechaun hats and shades.