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Team Merakey AVS participated in Pittsburgh’s Special Olympics Polar Plunge on February 26. The group raised more than $1,700 in support of athletes across the state!

Merakey AVS Administrator Stacey Speer had nearly all her house managers in attendance. New comers to the event were Sylvia Collins, Kristen Bellay, Alexis McGee, George Peroni Jr., Travis Toth, and Reagan Busby. They were also joined by long-time Merakey AVS plunger Carol Erzen.

“This continues to be an awesome team building experience,” commented Stacey Speer. “The majority of my house managers joined Team AVS and either cheered us on or jumped into a pool of ice cold water to support nearly 20,000 Special Olympic athletes across PA, which provides so many wonderful opportunities for the individuals we support at Merakey AVS. This was our small (but freezing) way of giving back!”

All participants plunged into icy pools (19 degrees) outside of Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh event came very close to meeting their goal of $450k by raising $447.3 this year.


Patricia Hillman Miller Campus celebrated Black History Month last month by holding a door decorating contest, encouraging staff to dress in clothes from their culture and topping it off with a Soul Food Day. It was quite a celebration as all three shifts were able to enjoy time eating together. Thank you to everyone who helped to prepare the delicious food!

Black History Month - Souls Food Day


The Philadelphia Campus opened Merakey’s first Himalayan Salt Room with the assistance of Program Aide Tabitha Johnson. The room consists of salt lamps that can boost mood, improve sleep, ease allergies, help people with asthma breathe better, and clean the air, among other benefits. As an individual relaxes, the microparticles of salt are inhaled. The particles penetrate deep into the lungs to aid respiratory concerns, while the non-inhaled salt particles are absorbed by the body to combat skin conditions. Halotherapy is recognized as a safe and effective wellness practice for preventive and restorative health care.

Thank you to the Walter F. and Ellen H. Nicoden Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation for funding this project.