2021 Empower! Lunch | Thank You

Published December 27, 2021

Special thanks to Maguire Agency, Matt Birk, and the many others who helped make our 2021 Empower! Lunch a tremendous success. Gross funds raised totaled nearly $43,000 including over $17,250 collected in donations on the day of the event. That’s amazing!

We look forward to seeing everyone again at next year’s event. Exact details TBD.

Bark’s Bytes #43 | Sameness

Published November 9, 2021

In the wee hours of 6/26/21, without following parliamentary procedures and with no public testimony, language creating a taskforce to eliminate the 14(c) special minimum wage option in Minnesota by August 2025 was included in an omnibus bill later signed by the Governor. While the how and why that happened may be a topic for a future editorial, right now 6,000 people with disabilities and their families need to understand the consequence of this legislation.

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DSPs Recognized by Vadnais Heights City Council

Published September 12, 2021

On Tuesday, September 7, 2020, Vadnais Heights Mayor Heidi Gunderson and the Vadnais Heights City Council proclaimed the week of September 12-18, 2021, as Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.

We’re so pleased that the City of Vadnais Heights recognizes the importance of these amazing individuals who are the heart and soul of what we do at Merrick, Inc. Without Direct Support Professionals, our mission to empower adults with disabilities through employment support and life enrichment services would not be possible, and they don’t often get the recognition they deserve.

View City of Vadnais Heights Proclamation

Merrick DSPs at Vadnais Heights City Council
Left to right: Vadnais Heights Mayor Heidi Gunderson and DSPs Shelly Newcomb, Maolanie Thao, Brady Mallek, and Joanne Valenzuela.

Vikings Leave Lasting Legacy

Published June 30, 2021

  • Female client playing games on a tablet
  • Staff entering client activity on tablet
  • Male client playing games on tablet

Because Merrick, Inc., is a non-profit, our funding is limited. The average cost per client for services provided is $80 per day and the government reimbursement is about $75 per day creating a $5 daily gap per client. With approximately 375 clients enrolled, and 252 days of service in a year, this leaves an annual shortage of approximately $472,500. Over the past 10 years, the Minnesota Vikings have donated their gently used tablets, laptops, desktop computers and other miscellaneous technology to our program. This equipment, if purchased new, would have cost at least $150,000 and difficult to include in our already stretched budget. Because we do not have that expense, we are able to focus more of our funding on providing excellent services to the clients we serve.

The tablets are used to assist people who cannot use their physical body and engage their minds in meaningful activities each day. They are also used for education, including helping clients learn to read, write, and for communication of important wants and needs for those who cannot speak to the people around them.

Our program was closed for three months during the Covid-19 pandemic and clients could not attend in person so we provided remote services via Zoom. This service was critical in keeping people connected and engaged during a very difficult period. We were able to bring tablets to the homes of clients who could not afford them so they could stay connected to the community and still receive the meaningful services that they needed and desired.

One very important aspect of our program is employment support and it is essential that every person in our program be paid fairly for the work they complete. Thanks to the Vikings, our employees have the needed technology to log client work and training activities in real time which makes it more compliant with Department of Labor standards.

All of our employees and clients have access to the internet via laptops or desktops which are in nearly every office and workspace throughout the building. We are also able to offer laptops to our managers for better access in our building and when they are away from their office.

A personal connection to the MN Vikings organization is welcomed by our employees and especially our clients. Merrick has received many items including signed jerseys and footballs to use as prizes in our fundraising events, silent auctions, and raffles. Pre-Covid-19, clients were invited to the annual Punt, Pass and Kick contest and also to watch a practice, take a tour of Winter Park, and meet the players. This experience has left a permanent glow in the hearts of those who attended.

It is our practice to recognize and thank our supporters and we have a donor wall in the foyer of our building. The Vikings tile is displayed there as a reminder of how grateful we are for their generosity through the years. We extend our continued thanks to the Minnesota Vikings organization, and to Todd Hauck, IT Specialist for coordinating this effort.

  • TIle
  • Viking Practice
  • Computer Center