January 2023
In This Issue of Merrick's Navigator:
New Year, New Programs
The New Old Fashioned Way
Celebrating Merrick Milestones
The Most Fun Fundraiser
Client Spotlight | Jeni
How You Can Support Merrick
Please forward this message to your friends and family to spread the word about how people can support our programs for adults with disabilities.
New Year, New Programs
On Monday, November 21, 2022, Merrick’s new Life Enrichment program site located at 1239 Willow Lake Boulevard in Vadnais Heights officially opened for services, and if you asked clients and staff, the day couldn’t have come any sooner. It had been a day long anticipated and will be remembered as it marked a major step forward in further realizing our mission to empower adults with disabilities.

More than 30 clients received services at the new program site that first day, all of whom had transferred from Merrick’s North St. Paul (NSP) site. Two weeks later on Monday, December 5, 2022, they were joined by the staff and clients from Merrick’s Alternative Services (AS) program bringing the total clients receiving services at the new site to nearly 80.

In the months ahead, we anticipate welcoming many new clients to Merrick as we shorten our waitlist and take full advantage of the new program space. In addition, we will be exploring new ways to utilize the space previously occupied by our AS program as we rededicate our main program site solely for employment services.
Video Caption: Clients arrive at the new program site on opening day.
The New Old Fashioned Way
Top: DSP Sandy (left) and Larry (right) with his balloon-sculpture Santa hat and beard; Bottom: Kelly (left) and James (right) on the dance floor
Where No Party Has Gone Before
Merrick’s Holiday Parties on Friday, December 16, were a huge hit with the clients, bringing holiday cheer to all who were involved. Even though planning two parties is nothing new for the Merrick team, the parties themselves were not afraid to go where no party had gone before.

A New Venue
Merrick’s Life Enrichment program site located at 1239 Willow Lake Boulevard (WLB) in Vadnais Heights hosted the smaller of the two holiday parties. It was inspiring to see the new space slowly transformed into a party venue as lights were strung from the ceiling and holiday centerpieces were placed on the tables, especially considering that it had been less than one month since we started providing services to clients in the space.
New Activities
This year, temporary holiday-inspired tattoos debuted at both parties. It became clear the tattoos were a smashing success when in the days following the party, clients continued to show off their glittery snowflake tattoos.

In addition to the tattoos, the 1239 WLB party also debuted two new activities: Plinko and the Punch Board. Both games brought lots of smiles as clients tried to punch their way through wrapping paper to find the prize inside or dropped the chips down the Plinko board.

An Old Tradition
Over the years, we’ve seen these holiday parties change in many and varied ways as new ideas are introduced and old ideas tossed out. However, at the end of the day, the mission is always the same: to bring holiday cheer to individuals who otherwise might not have the opportunity to celebrate during this season of giving. If we’ve accomplished that, then the parties were a success. And, if the clients’ reactions are an indicator, it would seem that this year’s parties accomplished that mission.
Top: temporary holiday-inspired tattoos; Middle: Gordy at the punch board at 1239; Bottom: Elise (left) playing Plinko assisted by Dorin (right) at 1239
Celebrating Merrick Milestones
Top: Honorees Jerry and Carol Moehnke with JWB; Bottom: Cashe Software President Praba Manivasager and JWB;
A Time to Celebrate
In our busy world, people don’t always take the time to celebrate life’s important successes, but that’s just what we did on Thursday, November 17, at Merrick’s November Social. The roads were snowy that night, but that didn’t prevent us from taking a moment to recognize and celebrate some of the milestones achieved by Merrick along with some key supporters.

Donor Recognition
The first act of the evening's agenda took place in the lobby as we recognized several donors whose financial contributions warranted a tile being added to our donor recognition wall. In honor of Cedarwoods Foundation, a brand new golden tile was introduced to acknowledge contributions of more than $250,000. In recent years, Cedarwoods Foundation has generously matched the gifts provided by our major donors, and they are the first (but hopefully not the last) to receive the $250,000 tile.
Building Key Presentation & Toast
Guests then made their way to the Commons. After appetizers were served, the second act of the evening commenced with a brief history of the 3210 Labore Road program site provided by Executive Director John Wayne Barker. After proudly revealing that the mortgage on the building had been paid off, a toast was offered to the past, present, and future success of Merrick's mission. In recognition of this accomplishment, Barker then proceeded to present Merrick Board President Crystal Saric-Fashant with a commemorative key to the building.

A Night to Remember
Sometimes it’s all too easy to not take the time to celebrate milestones because we’ve already shifted focus to the next goal. But at Merrick, guiding others toward realizing their goals is what we do so it is fitting to celebrate when goals are met. And so on November 17, 2022, we celebrated and made an otherwise ordinary November evening into a night to remember.
Top: Former Trustee Jamey Austad, Trustee and Honoree Erik Levy, Rita Pechmann of Royal Credit Union, and Trustee Joe Murphy; Bottom: Board President Crystal Saric-Fashant receives the building key from JWB; Photo Credit: Cadex Herrera
The Most Fun Fundraiser
Save the Date
Grab your bowling ball and practice your delivery because Merrick’s Bowl-A-Thon returns to Flaherty’s Arden Bowl on Sunday, April 23, 2023. Referred to as Merrick’s "most fun fundraiser," the Bowl-A-Thon is a family-friendly and client-focused event in which all ages and bowling abilities are welcome to join us for a fabulously fun morning at our favorite bowling alley.

Bowler registration includes donuts, door prizes, two-hours of bowling, and pizza. Cheerleaders (i.e. non-bowlers) are welcome to join us as this is one event in which the saying “the more, the better” definitely applies. In addition, bowlers and cheerleaders alike will have the chance to win even more prizes by entering one of our many raffles. All funds raised from the event will benefit Merrick, Inc.'s Self-Advocacy program.

Get Involved
The Bowl-A-Thon is our most fun event while also offering the most opportunities to get involved. Individuals and businesses can choose to support our event as a bowler, cheerleader, sponsor, in-kind donor, or a volunteer. With sponsorship levels starting at $100 and volunteers needed on the day of the event, there's a way for everyone to get involved.

Stay Tuned
More information about how you can support this event will be made available in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions or wish to learn how you can get involved, please contact Megan Kuneli at (651) 789-6207 or MeganK@MerrickInc.org.
Client Spotlight | Jeni
“Same,” Jeni exclaims pointing at Tammy’s T-shirt. “Yes,” Tammy replies, “our shirts are the same.” Jeni’s face breaks into a smile. She can’t believe she didn’t notice it before. Both her and Tammy’s T-shirt share the same sea blue and white color palette. And they’re both tie-dyed!

It's small moments like this that bring Jeni the most joy on any given day at Merrick: moments where she gets to show just how smart she really is.

Merrick staff who know her best describe Jeni as a very fun-loving and sweet-natured person. However, pair her with a staff she’s less familiar with or tell her to do something she doesn’t want to and you can be sure she’ll let you know how unhappy she is. On the flip side, if Jeni decides that you’re best friend-material, you should prepare yourself for lots of hugs, lots of hand-holding, and lots of time spent together. Either way, Jeni is not one to shy away from making her opinions and desires known.

If Jeni’s playful personality doesn’t win you over then her entourage of stuffed-animal friends that take up residence on her wheelchair tray certainly will. There’s George, a St. Bernard beanie baby dog, and Ariel, a plush mermaid doll. When she’s not playing with her animal friends, Jeni can usually be found stacking wooden blocks or working on the day’s art project. She also has a fondness for music: listening to music, dancing to music, making music, you name it. If it involves music, Jeni is all for it. The days when Merrick's music therapist visits are Jeni's favorite.

Those who’ve known Jeni the longest are proud of the progress she’s made since enrolling at Merrick 15 years ago. For instance, she’s mastered the ability to recognize and name colors, has become more versed in American Sign Language, and interacts more readily with her peers. And yet her job is far from done. More recently, she’s made it her goal to go on walks at least three times a week and sit in a conventional chair as opposed to her wheelchair on a more regular basis. Though she does not work in a traditional sense, it’s safe to say that Jeni still has her work cut out for her, and with the caring staff at Merrick, she'll get there.

For Jeni, the joy of seeing her favorite people and exploring the world around her combined with the pursuit of new goals keep her coming back to Merrick day after day. And yet it hasn’t always been easy. For one who doesn’t like change, Jeni has had to deal with it constantly as her program moved to our new building and new schedules alter her daily routine. Despite all this, she still comes back because she knows that she can trust her friends at Merrick to help her through these changes and through her most difficult days. And that’s worth sticking around for.
How You Can Support Merrick
Whether it’s taking a walk, earning a wage, or becoming more independent, adults with disabilities have goals and dreams just like you and me. And just like you and me, they need support if those dreams are ever to be achieved. For many adults with disabilities in our community, they find that support at Merrick.

Merrick only receives an average government reimbursement of $75 for every $80 of services provided. $80 of services equates to one day of support for one client. When multiplied by nearly 400 clients over 260 service days in a year, that $5 difference becomes significant. But it doesn't have to be. Your financial contribution, no matter the size, will help reduce this gap and ensure that clients continue to receive the support they need to realize their goals and dreams.

To make a donation, please visit www.merrickinc.org/donate or use the buttons below. All gifts are needed and greatly appreciated.
Our mission is to empower adults with disabilities through social and vocational opportunities, and to guide them toward realizing their goals and dreams.
Merrick, Inc. logo
3210 Labore Rd, Vadnais Heights, MN 55110