Archived News & Events, October 2019


Congratulations, Emily – Named Self Advocate Employee of the Year

Emily had a very busy day in Harrisburg! As the Self Advocate Employee of the Year for Pennsylvania’s Western Region, she and her parents had a tour of the Capitol, including a personal meeting with Representative Aaron J. Bernstine. During this meeting she shared her passion for horses and dogs, and before she left Representative Bernstine’s office, she had an invitation to his farm to visit his horse, and the opportunity for the job of grooming his dogs!

Later in the day she received her award at the PAR Annual Solutions Conference, “We Are Worth It.” Awards Ceremony. As one of Merakey’s first Pathfinders she advocates for herself – and others – as they take steps to reaching their fullest potential. Emily has a love of animals and through her person-centered planning process she identified the desire to work with an equestrian riding program. She is fulfilling the requirements of the job with support she receives at the Merakey AVS Slippery Rock Program Center. Emily also loves dogs and this year secured a job at Slippery Rock Pet Groomers where she is very helpful in calming and soothing the pets. “This feels fantastic,” exclaimed Emily after receiving the award.

“It’s so exciting to see people like Emily who know what they want out of life, and I have no doubt she will continue to work hard to achieve her dreams,” said Mark Davis, PAR President and CEO. “Providers like Merakey AVS work hard to help people like Emily achieve their dreams every day in Pennsylvania.”

Congratulations Emily!


Anniversary Celebrations at Merakey AVS

Happy Anniversary!Happy Anniversary! Employees from Merakey Allegheny Valley School at 1996 Ewings Mill Road in Pittsburgh celebrate Merakey’s 50th Anniversary by highlighting work anniversaries each month with sweet treats. Thank you to the following for your dedication to the Merakey mission.

  • Barb Quigley, Financial Systems Analyst - 37 years
  • Sara Kelchner, Senior Accountant - 10 years

Murals at Patricia Hillman Miller Campus

The hallways at Patricia Hillman Miller Campus, Merakey Allegheny Valley School are brighter and more welcoming thanks to three beautiful murals painted by artist Lynne Mack of Decorative Painting by Lynne. Two of the murals were donated to Merakey Allegheny Valley School by friend Christopher Butsko, and the third was a donation from Lynne herself.

“The paintings by Lynne are terrific,” commented Administrator Michelle Miller. “I have heard so many positive comments. We are grateful to Lynne for sharing her incredible talent!!”

AVS Mural
AVS Mural
AVS Mural

42 Years of Excellence

PaulineCongratulations to Pauline Seibert, a Direct Support Professional at Merakey Allegheny Valley School, for being featured by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals for 42 years of excellence. Pauline has truly displayed her commitment and dedication to the people she supports. In fact, she is so committed that she has never called out of work a day in her entire career! Readers may recall that Pauline was recognized in August as part of Merakey’s 50th Anniversary Employee Spotlight campaign. Nominated by Senior Executive Director Paula Nerone for this special campaign by NADSP, Pauline is thrilled to be recognized again. She still remains humble though, despite the well-deserved attention.

Thank you, Pauline, for all that you do to support the people at Merakey AVS and for putting your heart and soul into exceptional care and services.


Staff Appreciation Day at Merakey AVS on Verree Road

On September 11, staff at Merakey Allegheny Valley School on Verree Road in Philadelphia were treated to lunch prepared by Lintons Managed Services and they were given t-shirts with the acronym DSP imprinted on them, but with a different and equally important meaning: Dedicated, Supportive, Professional.


Merakey AVS Rotarians at Roxtoberfest

McKees Rocks Rotarians from Merakey Allegheny Valley School volunteered at the annual Roxtoberfest fundraiser. Rotary member Wendy greeted each guest as they walked through the door and pulled the winning 50/50 raffle ticket. Greater Mckees Rocks 15136 Rotary Club supports Merakey AVS programs in Kennedy Township, PA.


DSP of the Quarter at Merakey Allegheny Valley School

Mary Cavender

Congratulations Mary Cavender, Direct Support Professional of the Quarter at Merakey Allegheny Valley School!

“Mary is a very dedicated staff person; always smiling and putting the needs of the gentlemen she supports as her priority,” commented Administrator, Donna Stuckey.

The DSP of the quarter award has been made possible through Steven’s Fund to recognize Merakey Allegheny Valley School Direct Support Professionals. The fund was created in 2017 in memory of Steven Garlick by his mother Betsy Friedman.

To contribute to the fund, visit and include “Steven’s Fund” in the “other” and/or “comments / instructions” box.


Consumer Advocacy Picnic

The Consumer Advocacy Groups (CAG) from the Western Region of PA gathered at Moraine State Park for the 2nd Annual CAG Picnic. Everyone was glad to reconnect with members they had met the previous year and get to know new members. The day included a brief meeting, lunch, carnival games, fishing and a concert.


Motorcycle Charity Ride benefits Merakey Allegheny Valley School

On September 22, the Crafton-Ingram Rotary hosted its first Annual Motorcycle Charity Ride to benefit Merakey AVS. The ride began at the Merakey AVS Kennedy Program Center and included 40 motorcycles, 1 Slingshot and 1 Viper. Tiny and Jim from Merakey AVS greeted the bikers and posed for photographs before the ride began.

The ride included a visit to Merakey AVS Pittsburgh Campus, where many were outside cheering on the riders with "Thank You" signs. The 50-mile ride took turns throughout Allegheny County, making its way to Merakey AVS Patricia Hillman Miller Campus (PHMC) where a porch and balcony full of people were clapping and cheering. Ken and Stephanie joined the bikers at the end of the event at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Crafton.

The event raised $1,475 for Merakey AVS programs that support adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Pennsylvania.

Merakey bikers included - Sr. Manager of Recruiting Jim Battaglia, Motor Development Specialist Jen Morse and Development & Community Engagement Coordinator Amy Rocini. Bikers were also represented by the following rotary clubs: Crafton-Ingram, McKees Rocks Area, Pittsburgh and Rich-Mar. Many thanks to the Crafton and Ingram Police for providing an escorted ride from PHMC to the Knights of Columbus Hall.

We are so grateful to the Crafton-Ingram Rotary Club and to Rotarians Joe Orbovich and Don Wolbert, Jr. for coordinating the event, and plan to make the 2020 event even larger!

Thanks to the following Merakey AVS employees for assisting with the event: Cathy Engleka, Jean Germain, Jan and Dennis Harvilla, Michelle Miller, Amy Rocini, Leslie Sprawls and daughter Rylie and Sydney Hails. We are also grateful to the food prep crew at the Edward J. Zapp Program Center for providing mini muffins for the sendoff. And a big shout out to everyone at Pittsburgh Campus and PHMC for greeting the bikers and for showing their Merakey pride.

Click the following links to see videos from the event: Clip #1 | Clip #2


Friends of Merakey Allegheny Valley School Golf Open

On September 16, Merakey AVS held its 28th annual golf open at Chartiers Country Club. Chaired by Rick Mongiovi from Mongiovi & Son, the day was a huge success, raising more than $130,000 for Merakey AVS programs that support adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Pennsylvania.

Merakey AVS Pathfinder Elizabeth Humphrey co-emceed the dinner event with Executive Director, Development & Communications Dorothy Gordon. Elizabeth shared with the 175+ dinner guests the amazing opportunities that have opened to her during the past year, and shared her original poem, “I Can’t be Put Down”.

During dinner Linda Fabian received the 2019 AVS CHAMPion award. Linda retired this past May after 44 years with Merakey AVS. Western Regional Executive Director Gary Hoffman presented the award, and Chief Executive Officer Joe Martz offered his gratitude to Linda for giving her heart and soul to Merakey AVS for 44 years.

Congratulations to our golf winners:

  • 1st place team (score of 55) - Kent Foster, Mark DeWitt, Dave Penz and Tom Reading
  • 2nd place team (score of 56) - Matt Kerr, Kellen Lovejoy, Dan Labuda, Aaron Laverick
  • 3rd place team (score of 56) - Kevin Seigworth, Brian Sanders, Brett Adelman and Tanner Ivol
  • Longest Drive: Jon Lodovico and Elaine Hoffman
  • Straightest Drive: Dan DelBianco
  • Longest Putt: Chad Teasdale
  • Closest to the Pin: Chad Teasdale
  • Putting Contest: Steve Knightlenger

We are so grateful to all who contributed to the success of the 2019 Friends of Merakey Allegheny Valley School Golf Open!

Friends of Merakey AVS Golf Open 2019

Merakey Allegheny Valley School Attends The Lion King

74 individuals and accompanying staff members from Merakey AVS attended a sensory performance of The Lion King at the Benedum Center. Thank you to the Walter F. and Ellen H. Nicoden Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation for providing funding for these tickets.

Attendees from Galey and Robinson celebrated the special day with dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh after the show.

The Lion King