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Author: Megan Kunelli

Charity Golf Scramble Hits the Marks

Published June 19, 2024

With event sponsors Royal Credit Union and Total Mechanical Services, Inc., we were joined by 144 golfers and 34 client and staff volunteers at Merrick’s 29th Annual Charity Golf Scramble on Monday, June 3, at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, WI. Even though the weather was balmy and the bugs were biting, we had a terrific event raising over $81,000 in gross proceeds.

Keeping with his custom of dressing up as different characters from popular culture, John Wayne Barker took on the persona and look of Popeye the Sailor Man at Hole #13 where golfers had the chance to try to beat him at a game of closest to the pin. Golfers who successfully beat the boss (there were many of them) received a temporary anchor tattoo as proof of their victory.

Following a BBQ buffet dinner provided by Troy Burne, we announced the tournament, contest, game and raffle winners. The night’s biggest winner was Merrick Trustee Dan Schneeman, who won a trip for four to Whistling Straits, a Kohler Destination in Wisconsin. To see a complete list of winners, go to

Many thanks to all of our sponsors, golfers, volunteers, and golf committee members for making this a fantastic event.

The Art of Me | “We’re Here Together”

Published June 19, 2024

On Friday, June 7, a group of 14 clients from our life enrichment program, staff, and the teaching artists from Upstream Arts proudly presented “The Art of Me” at Hanifl Performing Arts Center in White Bear Lake.

A collaboration between Merrick and Upstream Arts, “The Art of Me” featured live art, musical instruments, skits, songs, poems, dancing, and lots of laughter from both performers and audience members alike. The theme of the morning was “I’m here! You’re here! We’re here together!” This statement more than anything perfectly encapsulated the feelings of joy and connection that emulated from the performers.

For the artists on stage, the performance represented the accumulation of several months of collaboration between the clients at Merrick and the Upstream Arts’ teaching artists during which relationships were built and the creative arts were explored.

The performance marked the third time that Merrick has partnered with Upstream Arts to create such a production, which is a record for the number of times that an organization has partnered with Upstream Arts. And based on the feedback from this year’s production, it probably won’t be the last.

2024 A4R Impact Report

Deloris at 2022 PartyPublished June 19, 2024

The 2023-24 Ambassadors for Respect (A4R) season has concluded and the final numbers are in.

Our 2024 A4R team consisted of 5 self-advocates: Leanne, Christine, Doris, Cindy, and Sam. From February through April, they visited 9 fourth-grade classrooms at three elementary schools reaching a total of 219 students.

Based on the survey completed by participants following the presentation, the following outcomes were achieved:

  • 99% of fourth graders could list three ways to include others;
  • 96% indicated that they had learned how to use person-first language;
  • 99% could list three ways to advocate for themselves and others.

The complete report may be downloaded below.

2023-24 Merrick A4R Impact Report

We are so proud of these five self-advocates for stepping out of their comfort zone and seeking to make the world a better place by telling their story to the younger generation.

Ambassadors for Respect is a program of PeaceMaker Minnesota and represents one example of how Merrick practices its core belief of civic responsibility.

Under the Surface | Deloris’ Story

Published June 19, 2024

With headphones over her ears and her attention on the task in front of her, Deloris is unlikely to acknowledge the casual visitor to Room C of Merrick’s Enhanced Services (ES) area. After all, she has a large pile of Medtox lead test kits in front of her to assemble and has little time for frivolous conversations while she’s on the clock. So, she quietly continues working with only the music of Usher in her ear for company, seemingly unconcerned with the activities of others.

Dede knows better. As she enters the room, Deloris glimpses Dede out of the corner of her eye, and her face immediately breaks into a radiant smile. “Did you get a haircut, Dede?” Deloris asks. “It looks nice.”

“Yes, I did get a new haircut. I’m glad you like it.” Dede replies. Having worked for Merrick for over 35 years, Dede has known Deloris since she first enrolled at Merrick in 2006. She knows that behind Deloris’ stoic demeanor is an incredibly observant, intuitive, kindhearted person. Hence, Dede was not surprised that Deloris noticed her new haircut. In fact, she expected it. However, Deloris’ intuitive nature was not always so apparent.

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2024 Art of Me Performance

Event Date: June 7, 2024

Art Of Me Group (1)
Art Of Me Group (2)
Art Of Me Group (3)
Art Of Me Group (4)
Art Of Me Group (5)
Art Of Me Group (6)
Art Of Me Group (10)
Art Of Me Group (11)
Art Of Me Group (12)
Art Of Me Group (13)
Art Of Me Group (14)
Art Of Me Group (15)
Art Of Me Group (16)
Art Of Me Group (17)
Art Of Me Group (18)
Art Of Me Group (19)
Art Of Me   Tim S
Art Of Me   Michele G
Art Of Me   Leigh G
Art Of Me   Leigh G (2)
Art Of Me   Jeff H
Art Of Me   Arlene S

2024 Compass & Employee Milestone Awards

Event Date: May 8, 2024

Compass Award Nominees
Compass Award Winners
Valenzuela, Joann
Krohn, Brie
Newcomb, Shelly
Ikegboma, Onu
Milestone Awards
Cimbura, Dorin
Cooley, Katie
Herrera, Karen
Kostohryz, Tammy
Kuneli, Megan
Mallek, Brady
Mercado, Alyssa
Wold, Jenn

A Special Friend | Emily’s Story

Published January 19, 2024

Between 2:15 and 2:30 pm each afternoon, the tinkling of piano keys can often be heard echoing through the halls of Merrick’s Willow Lake Boulevard site. The notes do not form a clear melody line, and their sparseness may lead visitors to question whether the tinkling sound was just their imagination. Ask any staff member about it, and they will tell you that it’s Emily. Playing the piano is part of her afternoon routine. A routine that was not always so easy to follow.

When Emily first started at Merrick in the summer of 2023, nothing was routine. Being that Emily is non-verbal, uses limited American Sign Language, and had no prior experience at a day program, it proved a challenge for Emily to learn the daily routine. From where to place her personal belongings to when it was time to use the bathroom, none of it came easily at first. Slowly that all changed, in part, thanks to Emily’s new friend, Brooke.

Direct Support Professional Brooke joined the Willow Lake team around the same time that Emily started at Merrick, and it soon became clear that she and Emily had a special connection. While other DSPs relied exclusively on a hand-over-hand teaching style when supporting Emily, Brooke found that simply pointing to or handing her an object would elicit a response. Under Brooke’s direction, Emily would readily play with various wooden activity boards and would eventually develop an interest in playing the piano so much so that it would become part of her daily routine.

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2024 Policies & Procedure Updates

Published January 9, 2024

This is a formal notification of Merrick’s policy and procedure updates that impact service delivery.

  1. The following language was added to the Admission Policy
    • The Company may deny admission based on a person’s criminal history that poses an imminent risk of harm to self or others.
    • The Company may offer a trial enrollment for a specified period when the following occurs.
      • The Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) cannot identify the person’s specific support needs due to a new environment and needs the assessment period to identify those needs.
      • The person’s support needs are not consistent with the company’s assessment upon enrollment and needs the assessment period to come to agreement on those support needs.
    • The Program Director(s) or designee will approve all admissions, trial admissions, or denials and document in writing.
  2. The EUMR (Emergency Use of Manual Restraint Policy) was updated as follows:
    • An EUMR may be reported verbally or in writing to an Assistant Program Director, Program Director, or designee. The previous policy only allowed for a written report to an Assistant Program Director or Program Director.
    • A completed BIRF (Behavior Intervention Reporting Form) will be sent to each member of the expanded support team upon their request rather than within 24 hours.
  3. The Program Abuse Prevention Plans have updated demographics.
  4. The Client Rights added language on #12 which now states:
    • Be free from maltreatment including abuse, financial or other exploitation, retaliation, humiliation or neglect by the Company or its employees.
  5. The Safe Medication Administration Policy was updated due to the company’s transition of nurse consulting to Health Counseling Services.
  6. A Maltreatment of Minors Policy was added.

The policies referenced above can be viewed in full below. We will mail a hardcopy to you upon request.

Admission Policy
Emergency Use of Manual Restraints Policy
Program Abuse Prevention Plan – 3210 Labore Rd
Program Abuse Prevention Plan – 1239 Willow Lake Blvd
Client Rights
Safe Medication Administration Policy
Maltreatment of Minors Policy