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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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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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A Man of Many Goals | Mike’s Story

Published November 13, 2023

At one-tenth of a mile long and spacious enough for two wheelchairs to easily pass by each other, Merrick’s hallway is a common thoroughfare for clients. Some use it as an exercise route while others use it to practice using a walker or other mobility device. Few can say for certain that they could navigate the wide hallway blindfolded. Mike is one of those few. Only he does not have to wear a blindfold to prove it.

With only his white cane for assistance, Mike moves about Merrick’s main program site with relative ease leaving a wake of positivity behind him. Every morning, he arrives on the bus and makes his way to his workstation in Utility Services while being sure to greet everyone he comes across with a friendly “How are you doing?” or a congenial “Good morning!” Then, every day at lunch time, Mike heads to the Commons and sits down at the same table to enjoy lunch with the same group of coworkers. He even knows where to dispose of his trash when he’s finished eating! On Wednesdays, Mike will make his way from his workstation to the large Flesher Conference Room on the opposite side of the building for his weekly Self-Advocacy meeting. And he does it all with minimal help from staff.

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