Posted 10/6/2023

Winter, spring, summer and fall, the Pittsburgh Campus at Merakey AVS continues to improve the “greenest” part of campus. Since November 2022, Horticulture Coordinator Aaliyah DiMarco has created new and detailed spaces at the greenhouse and in the sensory garden. In the winter months, she redesigned the large greenhouse to include a welcome area, office and learning spaces for the individuals. Additionally, there are hundreds of square feet designated for the plants and trees to grow.

In the spring, Aaliyah installed new equipment to start seedlings and continued to create a plan for the summer months.

In the summer, the new butterfly garden provided another learning space. “The butterfly garden has created daily activities such as butterfly and bee watching, and some employment opportunities for the individuals,” commented Aaliyah. “Now, they may choose to work in the butterfly garden, prune, pick flowers, and weed.”

In addition to her horticulturist skills, Aaliyah teaches about the ecosystem within these campus spaces. In her lesson, she emphasizes that the garden provides butterflies a safe habitat and increases biodiversity. The green spaces provide mental wellness benefits for the individuals. “Butterfly watching is very calming. It can improve focus and attention, and boost a person’s mood,” added Aaliyah.

During fall, Aaliyah plans to visit a produce farm, and to complete the growing season with another stop at the campus sensory garden to pick and preserve flowers. “The garden has sparked creativity and I look forward to the individuals making beautiful, dried flower arrangements.”

Pittsburgh Campus Greenhouse (October 2023)

Congratulations Sherrie Warren, Direct Support Professional of the Quarter! Sherrie is being recognized for her teamwork, effective communication, professionalism and her extraordinary commitment to the individuals supported by Merakey Allegheny Valley School in Central PA.

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

To contribute to the fund, visit avs.merakey.org/donate-now and include “Steven’s Fund” in the “other” and/or “comments / instructions” box.

It was a fun-filled day at the Patricia Hillman Miller Campus Carnival! Individuals, staff and families gathered to play air hockey, skee-ball, basketball, ring toss and balloon darts. There was also face painting, a photo booth, duck pond with prizes and a guessing booth. Guests snacked on popcorn and Rita’s Italian Ice and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Many people participated in the dunk tank contest and had a chance to dunk Merakey AVS staff members Paul Schons, Mary Curtz, Michelle Miller, Erin Williams or Bizzy Haniford.

Patricia Hillman Miller Campus Carnival (October 2023)

The ladies from Buckskin home at Merakey AVS enjoyed decorating for Halloween, complete with a stuffed scarecrow for their front yard!

Decorating for Halloween (October 2023)