Archived News & Events - March 2020

March 30, 2020

Yoga, Crafts and Cooking

On a typical day, the ladies who live at Merakey’s Allegheny Valley School Ewings Mill Road location spend time at the AVS Zapp Center, an Adult Training Program. However, with COVID-19 closures, they, like everyone else are spending lots of time at home.

On Monday, their first day home from the Zapp Center, the ladies started their day with yoga and ended the day by painting St. Patrick’s Day rainbows.

On Tuesday, residents continued their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations by making and enjoying a meal of soda bread, potato candies, cabbage, and bacon.

March 30, 2020

Celebrating a Special Birthday in a Unique Way

Happy birthday Dennis!

In spite of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, Dennis H., from the Country Club Merakey IDD home celebrated his 72nd birthday with staff and friends…from afar.

Through video chat, Dennis’s friends joined him virtually and even sang a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday!”

Knowing that it’s a tough time to celebrate a birthday, Dennis’s awesome team of Direct Support Professionals went the extra mile and (safely) brought him balloons and his favorite cake to make his day extra bright!

March 16, 2020

Advocating for Individuals with Autism in the Justice System

Merakey USA Board member, the Honorable Kelly C. Wall, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas presented on a panel before the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges at its bi-annual conference on February 29, 2020. Judge Wall collaborated with Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty on autism in the justice system. The panel, Mental Health in the Courts: Autism is not a Label addressed several subjects including, but not limited to, the treatment of individuals on the autism spectrum in the criminal justice system, crafting appropriate sentences and placements that address their needs, creating accommodations for Courtroom appearances, and identifying resources to educate judges, probation officers and court personnel.

Judge Wall also presented her panel When Family Court and Autism Intersect at the Cambria County Bench and Bar Association on March 6, 2020. Judge Wall’s panel encompassed several issues including the role of the counsel as an advocate or counselor at law, educating judges on the characteristics and needs of autistic children, and crafting custody schedules to meet the best interest of the children.

Merakey is grateful to Judge Wall and her continued advocacy for children with autism who present in the court system.

Pictured L-R: Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, Khylil Robinson, self- advocate for autism awareness, the Honorable Kelly C. Wall, and the Honorable Jennifer Rogers, Lucerne County Court of Common Pleas.

March 16, 2020

Merakey Takes the Plunge for Special Olympics

On February 29, a team of Merakey staff members took the plunge to support Special Olympic athletes across Pennsylvania. Congratulations to Team Allegheny Valley School for raising more than $1,700!

Administrator Stacey Speer had nearly all her house managers at the event to either plunge or cheer-on the team. They were also joined by long-time Merakey plunger Carol Erzen. Newcomers to the event were Jackie Lawrence, Rena McDanel and Donna Todd.

“This continues to be an awesome team building experience,” commented Stacey. “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. This was our small (but freezing) way of giving back!”