December 2020
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COVID-19 Couldn't Stop the Holiday Spirit!
Traditionally, Merrick hosts two large holiday parties for all clients to attend. A special team of Merrick Elves raises funds to cover the festivities. This year, the elves and donors were as generous as usual! After many different variations of holiday celebrations were considered, adapting to the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines, we are proud to have hosted several activities that have made the holiday season special in a remarkable year. On December 10th, clients onsite at our programs enjoyed mini-celebrations in their cohorts. Santa and a balloon artist visited, clients competed for Bingo prizes, enjoyed a seasonal treat, and had a portrait taken.

On December 17th, we partnered with Newtrax, Inc., to deliver family-style dinners to 178 client households. One of our typical holiday party's most special aspects is gathering everyone together to share lunch. In lieu of that, we encouraged the households to gather together for dinner from Donatelli's or Jimmy's, compliments of the Merrick Elves. Each household received a lantern centerpiece and a note expressing appreciation for the blessings of family and friends. Clients who live alone received a gift card, and those who work on a crew are enjoying a business lunch with their coworkers.

"COVID-19 didn't stop the holidays from coming. Somehow or other, they came just the same. Perhaps the holidays don't come from the store. Maybe the holidays mean a little more." ~ Executive Director, John Wayne Barker, with a nod to Dr. Seuss
New Service Hours Begin
We will welcome the new year by taking a step toward "normalcy" when we return to full-service days on January 4, 2021. Our managers and their teams are currently working on adaptations to workspaces and lunch schedules to accommodate everyone and maintain COVID-19 guidelines. We have heard from many clients and their families that they are eager to resume pre-COVID-19 schedules, and our staff is looking forward to this as well.
Take a Last-Minute Tax Deduction
For clients at Merrick, the services we provide are essential in their quality of life. The remote services many have engaged with is a welcome break in the day and a regular schedule to count on while they await their return to our program buildings or their places of employment. Others have enjoyed the continuation of onsite life enrichment activities and are looking forward to full-day services starting in January.

Several clients cannot return to their jobs until the pandemic subsides, or the vaccines are available to the general population. Fortunately, we offer onsite work support services, and several have found meaningful employment at our 3210 Building.

What has remained unchanged during the pandemic is that we provide access to qualified and caring direct support professionals, reliable transportation to jobs, meaningful work, and high-quality life enrichment experiences.

The average cost for a client to attend Merrick is $80 per day, which includes program costs and transportation. Our winter funding campaign aims to raise $15,000 so we can continue to provide services for people who are seeking work opportunities or those wanting to enhance their quality of life.

Note: The CARES Act provides a new charitable deduction of up to $300.00 per taxpayer in annual charitable contributions for those who DO NOT itemize. Check with your tax preparer for more details.