Archived News & Events - June 2020

June 19, 2020

Thanking our DSPs… True Merakey Heroes !

The management team of Merakey IDD Philadelphia made 600 HERO goodie bags for Direct Support Professionals as a “thank you” for their ongoing dedication to our residents during COVID-19. The goodies included: chips, pretzels, popcorn, granola bars, cookies, rice crispy treats, clementines, and more. Members of management hand-delivered the bags to 80 group homes across Philadelphia and shared socially distant words of appreciation to our DSPs on shift.

Daniel, a relatively new DSP who started just four months ago, was grateful for the goody bag. Starting a new job during a pandemic has been challenging and stressful at times, but Daniel says that he is happy to be at Merakey and really enjoys working with this great group of gentlemen. Daniel said, “I love my guys and look forward to seeing them!”

Thanking our DSPs
Thanking our DSPs
Thanking our DSPs
June 19, 2020

Thank You, Merakey Vendors for Donations of PPE

Understanding the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) throughout the country, Merakey vendors have come through in a big way and recently donated PPE so that Merakey employees can continue providing critical and essential services.

Thank you to the following vendors/community supporters:

  • Ford for their donation of 3,000 face shields
  • Safeguard by Innovative for their donation of 2,500 KN95 masks
  • Philadelphia Fire Department, the PA Office of Developmental Programs, and Delta-T for their donations of face masks
  • Home Depot recently donated more than 4,000 N95 masks to the Woodhaven campus. 

Merakey is grateful to all our vendors, community supporters, and Merakey staff members for their very generous and much needed contributions. Their support throughout the years, and especially during the past few months has been incredible.

Thank YOU!

Thank you!
June 12, 2020

Congratulations, Class of 2020!

Students from Merakey Education and Autism Centers from across Pennsylvania celebrated a special virtual graduation on Monday, June 8. Keynote speaker Dr. Temple Grandin, renowned author and speaker on autism, shared special words of advice with the students as they move on to the next part of their lives. Joe Holden, news anchor from CBS3 in Philadelphia and the event’s Master of Ceremonies introduced the speakers and recognized the graduates for their hard work.

CEO Joe Martz and Senior Vice President of Children and Family Services Becki Mann offered their congratulations and best wishes for the future. Merakey wishes all the graduates of the Class of 2020 great success!

Click the following links to view news clips of the graduation ceremony and check out the video below to watch full event:
June 12, 2020

Foster Care Parents Making a Difference

Foster Care Parents

Jeanette first became a foster parent with Merakey in November 2006. When asked why she became involved, Jeanette shared, “I was in foster care and wanted to give back what was given to me.” She considered herself blessed when Al entered her life. They married and took a few years off from foster care, enjoying extra time for visiting family members out of the area. They returned to being foster parents in 2012.

When asked what they enjoy about being foster parents, they shared that it is rewarding to reconnect with past placements. Jeanette said she often feels like the kids are not listening to what she is saying, but then observes them doing things she has taught them, which brings a smile to her face. “A majority of them are truly listening and are teachable of everyday life tasks,” states Jeanette. They have had over 26 youth placed in their home and have helped with over 20 respites during their time with Merakey.

Thank you, Jeanette and Al, for your commitment to children and adolescents in foster care! To learn more about Merakey’s Foster Care program, please contact 1-877-832-2210 or send a message via the Merakey Foster Care page.

June 10, 2020

Spreading Kindness to Essential Workers

Eight year old Annabella (Bella), is a brownie with the Lewistown Girl Scout Troop #40374. Bella has been with the troop for two years and absolutely loves it! As the troop does every year, they ordered cases of everyone’s favorite Girl Scout cookies to sell around town. However, due to the pandemic this year, the cookies couldn’t be sold as usual. Bella and her mom, Staci, sat down together to discuss another way to sell the cookies. Bella thought about the number of cookies that the local police officers normally buy, so she decided to collect donations to purchase cookies for them as they were providing essential services during this difficult time. Staci took to social media and asked for help with her daughter’s plan, and before they knew it, the donations started flowing in and the cookies started rolling out. What started with giving cookies to the police officers quickly grew to over 200 hundred boxes donated to local businesses and essential workers around the area! Cookies were donated to multiple police stations, ambulance companies, fire departments, grocery stores, radio stations, the local newspaper, the post office, trucking companies, small businesses, car dealerships, and the Merakey site where Bella receives services.

As a result of this special experience, Bella also improved her relationship with her older brother Alexander, because he helped her with the donations. For her incredible efforts, the police officers gave her a teddy bear and an honorary police badge, and the local newspaper featured Bella’s kindness in an article. ​​​​​​​

Bella said that it was “pretty cool” to be famous, but that isn’t what she wanted out of this. All she wanted was to be kind! Bella hopes that she can continue to receive donations so that she can give cookies out to all the essential workers who are doing what they can for the community.

Thank you, Bella, for supporting essential workers and for being a Merakey Superhero!

Spreading Kindness
Spreading Kindness
Spreading Kindness
June 12, 2020

Heroes Work Here

Lucrece Akpokli

When an individual supported by Merakey and their primary support person tested positive for COVID-19, Direct Support Professional Lucrece Akpokli stepped in to make sure the resident remained safe and supported.

Knowing that Merakey had safeguards in place, including full PPE, she continued to work closely with the resident. When an around the clock crew became unavailable, Lucrece stepped up once again, and moved into the home to live and quarantine with the individual. She has done an amazing job balancing the need for isolation with the need for activity and connection. Lucrece and the resident play games, listen to music, watch movies, and talk about all of the fun places they will go when COVID-19 is behind us. Lucrece is a true HERO, living the Merakey Mission every day!

June 10, 2020

Stories from the Heart

Stories from the Heart

Meet Marsha Podsiadly, a Recruiter at the Coraopolis, PA location. When asked what she loves most about working at Merakey, she shares:

"I have spent many of the last 21 at years at Merakey working directly with our IDD individuals and have been able to build relationships that I will cherish forever. From working in the group homes to now seeing them in passing when at the office, I find so much joy in sharing in even the smallest of interactions, whether it be conversations about their day or even a quick hello just to make them smile. The individuals we serve are the reason we are all here. Finding the right staff to make a positive difference in their lives is my top priority, however these individuals have made a difference in my life, and for that I will always be grateful and proud to work for Merakey."


Stories from the Heart

Lindsey Schmidt has had various roles during her six years at Merakey, including DSP, AA and now as a Talent Acquisition Staffing Partner in Harrisburg, PA. When asked what she loves about Merakey, Lindsey states:

"What I love most about Merakey is that we are a family. My mother was a live-in house manager when I was born so I was brought directly from the hospital into one of the group homes in Beaver, PA. I grew up surrounded by so much love from the individuals and the staff. I remember playing school with one of the individuals in the home as they were helping me develop without even knowing it. After growing up in this amazing environment with such impactful people, I never wanted to lose that part of my life. I became a Direct Support Professional as soon as I turned 18 to help the individuals that I truly cared for. I later became an Administrative Assistant and now I am a Recruiter for Merakey finding us the best of the best to care for our individuals. I will always look at Merakey as a puzzle piece in my life."


Stories from the Heart

Erin Burnette, Program Director of Merakey Autism Center in Dearborn, Michigan, has been with Merakey for four years and proudly shares her story from the heart:

"What I love most about working for Merakey is the sense of community and support among our teams. From executive leadership to front line workers, it is clear we are all in this together working toward one common goal. Although COVID-19 has continued to wreak havoc over the U.S., it has brought to light the continued compassion and dedication of our Michigan team. We have persevered and continued to provide quality telehealth services to assist our participants in reaching their fullest potential. It is my absolute honor to continue to lead my team through this uncertainty and beyond. I always have and will continue to be proud to be part of the Merakey family!"

June 10, 2020

Delaware Shows off their Artistic Talent

Residents from Merakey’s IDD homes in the state of Delaware are showing their artistic talents both inside and outside. Sidewalk chalk drawings were recently created outside on a beautiful spring day, while others did paintings to display in their homes.

Thanking DSPs
Thanking DSPs
Thanking DSPs
Thanking DSPs
Thanking DSPs
June 10, 2020

A Merakey Superhero Supports our Staff

Merakey is grateful to an anonymous family member of a Patricia Hillman Miller Campus resident who is using her stimulus check from the government to buy meals for staff members. “What they do for my daughter is so wonderful!” Until the check is used in full, the family member will be purchasing meals for the campus’ weekend team members.

THANK YOU to this special Merakey Superhero!

June 10, 2020

Thanking Merakey DSPs

The management team of IDD programs in Merakey Chester and Delaware Counties wanted to do something extra special for their Direct Support Professionals in light of COVID-19. In addition to personal calls to each Direct Support Professional on a regular basis to ensure that staff members were doing ok, care packages containing masks, games, puzzles, arts and crafts, and games to play outdoors were distributed to show appreciation for their staff members’ dedication and support of the Merakey mission. These gestures prompted many DSPs to call their managers, program specialists, and directors to personally say thank you.

​​​​​​​

The IDD management team of Chester and Delaware Counties wishes to thank every DSP for all that they are doing during this challenging time. Staff have changed the lives of people Merakey supports, as well as the lives of managers who are in awe of what they do every day.

Thanking DSPs
Thanking DSPs
Thanking DSPs
Thanking DSPs
June 10, 2020

Congratulations to Merakey’s Newest NADD Certified Employee

Danielle Britton

Congratulations to Danielle Britton, MS NADD-CC for being the first Behavior Specialist from the Merakey Clinical Team to receive her NADD-Clinical Certification.

Danielle provides behavior services to Butler County, Mercer County, and Slippery Rock in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. Under the Supervision of Clinical Director, Karie Lyons, Danielle submitted a work sample, successfully responded to a clinical vignette and applied the five competencies of clinical case conceptualization (Medical considerations, clinical assessments, FBA/Positive Behavior Support, therapeutic intervention, and medication considerations).

Danielle joins the ranks of the Merakey NADD certified that includes Terry McNelis, Astrid Berry, Robin VanEerden, Stephanie Napoleon, Cynthia Hennessy, Christi Amato, Karie Lyons and Drs. Marie Dube, Michael May and Tim Barksdale.