Archived News & Events, May 2019


Holy Trinity Students Visit Merakey AVS

On May 9, the entire 7th grade class from Holy Trinity Catholic School in Robinson Township, PA visited the Merakey Allegheny Valley School Pittsburgh Campus for a day of service projects. Joined by their teacher Mrs. Smith, they spent the day planting flowers in the greenhouse, cleaning-up the sensory garden, and helping to facilitate mock Special Olympics games to prepare individuals for the games on May 12. The students also helped to assemble 500 sandwiches for volunteers of the Allegheny County Special Olympics Games. We are grateful to the group for their exceptional efforts!

Holy Trinity Student Visit
Holy Trinity Student Visit
Holy Trinity Student Visit

Philadelphia Program Center Welcomes OT Students

The 2018-2019 school year was an amazing one for Merakey Allegheny Valley School’s Philadelphia Program Center (PPC). Along with program staff and Occupational Therapists (OT), an Occupational Therapy Student Program was created. Students from Thomas Jefferson and Temple Universities joined the PPC OT Department for 3-months to learn about working with individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), to provide feedback to enhance the current program, and to collaborate with Merakey staff members.

During each student’s 3-month rotation they received trainings on various topics, including how OTs use Allen Cognitive Levels to understand how an individual can participate in Activities of Daily Living; how to complete passive range of motion for the upper extremities; the importance of an exercise program; and the benefits of sensory enrichment.

Towards the end of the program, students provided sensory enrichment activities once a week to all five areas of the PPC. These activities and staff collaboration resulted in development of a Sensory Enrichment Program for individuals with IDD.

“The results of this program were amazing to see and extremely beneficial for the individuals and the staff at the PPC,” commented Associate Executive Director Monica Hall. “Thus far, the relationship established between Merakey and the OT students has proven to be a positive experience for both the people we support as well as the staff. There is a noticeable difference in the responses to sensory activities from the individuals who require attention to specific sensory needs. The training the staff has received has empowered them to effectively provide recommended services.”

“As we look towards the next school year, we are excited to say our OT students will continue to provide us with new and innovative programs that will continually enrich the lives of our individuals,” said Occupational Therapist Rebecca Stressman.

OT Students  OT Students


Miracle League Season Is Underway

More than 100 players who receive supports from Merakey Allegheny Valley School are playing baseball each week on the Miracle League fields in Cranberry Township, PA. Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional/ Program Specialist Amber Wilson attended the Cubs vs. Indians and Rays vs. Mets games on May 15 and shared that there were plenty of smiles captured throughout the game! Thanks to Amber for capturing these amazing images.

During pre-game, everyone took off their hats for the National Anthem, and sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the "2nd" inning stretch. "It was a joy to see the players having fun and cheering each other on during the game," said Amber.

Players were announced over the loud speaker when it was their turn to bat. Amber noted that John "Cheeseburger" Heinlein loves to hear his name on the PA System. Many of the players hit their pitch to the outfield!

We are grateful to all the players, staff and volunteers who participated and/or cheered on each other.

The teams are playing ball Mondays through Thursdays (6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) now through July 1. The Pirates Charities Miracle League Field is located in Cranberry Township, PA at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Sportsplex at Graham Park (260 Graham Park Drive, Cranberry Township, PA 16066).

Come out to cheer on our teams. See attached schedule. For additional information, please contact Amy Rocini at or at 412-299-2229.


Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Performance of Disney in Concert

On March 30, 95 individuals supported by Merakey Allegheny Valley School attended a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra sensory-friendly performance of Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time. The sensory friendly concert experience featured a 45-minute performance of the music of Walt Disney and multisensory pre-concert activities. Everyone enjoyed the timeless songs! Attendance at this event was made possible by contributor support.

AVS visits the PSO! AVS visits the PSO!
AVS visits the PSO! AVS visits the PSO!


Merakey Night at the Pirates

Night at the Pirates!

FREE infield grandstand tickets available!

Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 7:05 p.m.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Merakey received 200 tickets through the Pirates Community Ticket Program and we want to have as many individuals supported by Merakey, employees, friends and family members join us!

Tickets are in sections 309 and 311 (infield grandstand; 1st base line). Most of the tickets are for general seating. There are 20 seats available for those requiring accessible seating.

A raffle will be held to determine the ticket winners. There is no cost to participate in this raffle.

If you are interested in being included in the raffle, please contact Glenda Cress at with the following information by Friday, May 17.

Please include:

  • Your name
  • Merakey work location
  • Email address
  • Number of tickets requested (please limit requests for up to 10 tickets and note if accessible seating is needed)

Only sign up for a chance to win tickets if you are available for and will be able to attend the game on May 30. Winners will be contacted the week of May 20.

Tickets are not to be resold or offered for resale and cannot be used for auctions, fundraising or solicitation of any type.

NOTE: This is the same night that Merakey AVS is hosting a fundraiser in the World Series Suites – a few tickets remain for sale (includes food and beverage)! If you would like more information about this fundraiser, please contact Kelly Gremba at 412-299-2231. Let’s Go Bucs!


Senators DiSanto and Folmer Visit Merakey AVS Hummelstown Campus

Administrator Donna Stuckey recently invited Senator Mike Folmer and Senator John DiSanto to visit the Hummelstown Campus to meet the individuals we support and our dedicated team.

On Tuesday, April 16, the Senators took Donna up on her offer and spent the morning at the Hummelstown Campus Day Program Center where they engaged with many of the individuals we support and staff members. “Both Senators showed a sincere interest in our work, and definitely left the visit with a much better understanding of who we are and what we do,” reported Regional Executive Roland Champ.

Senator DiSanto’s shared his visit on his Facebook page, noting that they had an “informative and inspirational visit.” He also recognized the nurses, DSPs and administrators for the important work they do.

Thank you to both Senator DiSanto and Senator Folmer for visiting with us!

Senator Visit Senator Visit Senator Visit Senator Visit Senator Visit Senator Visit