~In This Issue~ April 2015
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Singing in the rain

As spring comes to the Midwest, we experience a  variety of changes to the weather always knowing on the other side of spring is the sunshine and warm days of summer. Enduring the winter and surviving the challenges of spring weather all while waiting patiently to celebrate summer is a good metaphor for Merrick's present outlook. With many changes taking place that effect how we operate, staff continue to make each day a brighter day for clients at Merrick. Our mission has never been truer than it is today as we strive to empower adults with disabilities in spite of the challenges in our path. We not only appreciate but we rely on our supporters like you to partner with us during times like these.   
Clients at Merrick bringing the sunshine with their smiles
on a dreary April day. 
In this issue we introduce a new feature turning the spotlight on members of our Board of Trustees who give their time and talents to support Merrick. We begin with Erik Levy, one of our newer Trustees. We are celebrating the success of the 2015 Bowl-A-Thon, read on below for the reasons why. Coming up in June, we are hoping NOT to be singing in the rain at our 20th annual charity golf schamble, event details and a registration link are below. JWB shares his thoughts on the state's Olmstead Plan with a new edition of Bark's Bytes, and we wrap up this April issue with a client story on Tou, a Laos native who has found a place to call home at Merrick. 

Even in the face of inclement weather,  we can still "sing in the rain" and do our best daily to individually make a difference in the lives of clients. Thanks for being there and riding out the storms together. Here's to brighter tomorrows for ALL of us. 
Board of Trustee Corner- Erik Levy

What brought you to be a Trustee for Merrick? 
My younger brother, Jason, is a client at Merrick. 

Erik Levy
Merrick Inc., Board Member

Every day, he sends me a lengthy text message to give me the highlights of his day. When he goes to work, his text message begins with the phrase "Today at Merrick..." and almost always ends with "...so I had a great day!" Any organization that solicits such praise from my brother deserves my assistance.

How long have you been on Merrick's BOT?
This is my first year as a Trustee.

What type of work do you do professionally?
I'm an Attorney with the law firm of Dykema Gossett in Minneapolis. I work in Dykema's Government Affairs and Regulated Industries group, where we assist telephone and energy companies with advocacy in front of Federal and State regulatory commissions. Many of our clients are small, rural providers who are attempting to bring service to areas that are currently underserved. Additionally, I also work in our Corporate Governance group, where I assist companies with their day-to-day business needs and attempt to ensure they are complying with increasingly complex and complicated laws.

Erik (left) with his brother Jason, a client at Merrick,
celebrating his law school graduation day.

What skills do you bring to the BOT that make you a valued member?
As an attorney, part of my job is advocating for my clients. I think this helps me as a Trustee because that is ultimately what I am trying to do: advocate on behalf of Merrick and its clients. Additionally, because I work in Minneapolis I am able to bring Merrick's message to an audience outside of the Northeast Metro. Finally, I think I bring an important viewpoint to the Board because, via my brother, I can relate everything we do to how it effects clients at Merrick.

Why does being a Trustee for Merrick matter to you?
My father once told me, "the best way to judge people is not how they interact with you; it's how they interact with your brother." Everyone at Merrick treats Jason the way he deserves to be treated: like a person who is to be celebrated for who he is. I want to make sure that I do whatever I can to ensure that Merrick continues to be the place where he is given the opportunity to have a great day each and every day.

What are your hobbies/activities outside of work?
My biggest passion is soccer; I'm a diehard Liverpool FC (England) and Minnesota United FC fan. I spend a large part of the summer riding my motorcycle around town. I play squash three to four times per week, I carry a 190 average in bowling, and during the summer, also play volleyball once or twice a week.

If you could have any job in the world for one day, what would it be- and why?
I'd love to be the manager for Liverpool on the day they win the English Premier League. I think it would be unreal to be surrounded by 45,000 fans as they celebrate reaching the top of the sport with the team they love.❖

Bowl-A-Thon 2015 rolls a strike! 

We had a ball at this year's Bowl-a-Thon, held Sunday, March 15 at Flaherty's Arden Bowl in Arden Hills. Not only was a good time had by all, but we also raised over $40,000 to fund our mission to empower adults with disabilities. Thanks you to presenting sponsor IPS Worldwide and all of the 2015 sponsors, supporters, and in-kind donors. We couldn't have done it without you! Click here: http://bit.ly/BAT2015photos to view all the fun. ❖

JWB takes politicians to task over Olmstead Plan

The latest edition of Executive Director John Wayne Barker's (JWB) blog which he proclaims is "the most opinionated to date" is now online. Follow http://bit.ly/BritishAreComing to read the full article. 

20th annual charity golf schamble tees off in June

Lake Area Bank is our presenting sponsor for this year's 20th annual Merrick, Inc., Charity Golf Schamble with a change in date to June; we are hoping for some great weather! We encourage you to grab some friends and register soon, as we generally sell-out this fun event, all to raise funds to support our mission. 

The Hulk aka JWB with the Warners' Stellian team at
last year's golf event. 

Online registration is now open at this link: http://bit.ly/MerrickGolf2015 

View all the event details here: www.MerrickInc.org/golf 

Client Spotlight | Tou | Onsite Services
Tou in a traditional Hmong vest.

In a van-washing bay at Merrick's main program site in Vadnais Heights, a relationship between a client and longtime job coach demonstrates that communication takes many forms. Tou, a client at Merrick since 2003, experienced hardships in life including losing family members in Laos before moving to the United States. Now, he has found a home at Merrick.

Along with a developmental disability, Tou is also hearing impaired, coupled with not being a native English speaker, which could make communicating with others a frustrating experience. Through his relationship with Merrick support service staff Dan Lind, who also happens to have a hearing impairment, he has found someone willing to try. The pair communicates through a mix of American Sign Language, Hmong Sign Language, and Tou's own gestures. Just as verbal communicators come up with slang and inside jokes, so do people who communicate through signing.

Tou and Dan share a smile at Merrick. 

Dan said about working with Tou, "He is dependable and a hard worker. I know the job is done right when Tou is on duty." His friends at work describe him as animated, strong-willed, funny, and persistent. Tou, proud of his heritage, likes to share upcoming events in the local Hmong community with staff and co-workers. He is passionate about music, art, food, dance, and sporting events from his native country. He dreams of marrying a beautiful woman and living out the American dream. Tou strongly values being a "teacher" by sharing with others about his culture and sign language.  As Kao Kalia stated in The Latehomecomer; A Hmong Family Memoir, "Once we are, we will always be."---Tou has captured our hearts and inspires us all to live more fully. 

It is through these unique relationships between clients and staff that Merrick truly lives out its mission to empower adults with disabilities and guide them toward reaching their goals and dreams. 

Get to know more clients at Merrick through the Client Spotlight feature on our website. Visit: http://www.merrickinc.org/client-spotlight.html  

 Thank you to our recent donors

Kathy Abrahamson

Lance Arnett

Eugene Beaulieu

Nathaniel Bility

Frank and Theresa Blasiak

Tricia Bleichner

Curtis Brunton

Central Bank

James Chicone

Dorin Cimbura

Rick and Nancy Colvin

Daniel Cooke

Erin Davis

Edward Dodds

Mambu Dunbar

Ennis-Paikin Steel, Ltd.

JoAnn and Richard Frahm

Kristine Frederickson

Dede and Todd Hauck

Reed Heimbecher

Karen and Cadex Herrera

Donna and Erv Hinrichs

Tom and Mary Jo Holly
Sherri Holmes

Michael Howard

Onu Ikegboma

IPS Worldwide

Anna Johnson

Sherrie and Tom Kenny

Eileen LeClair

Linders Specialty Company, Inc.

John Loipersbeck

Maguire Agency

Richard Mann

Stephanie Mann

Steve and Sue Mann

Vern Manty

Tom and Diane McDonald

Carol or Jim McDonough

John McDonough

Myles McDonough

Mary Moehrle

Cindie Moots

Joe Murphy - Ohio National Financial Services
Mary Lou and Steve Oman

Ellen Otto

Marsha Pittelkow

Crystal Ronning

Rotary Club of Vadnais Heights

Connie Schmidt

Dave and Therese Selissen

Mark and LuAnn Shields

Jeanne Tahedl

Liz Tauer

Dee Thompson

Colleen Timbers

Robert and Katie Timbers

Kim and Renee Trenary

Gerry and Debra Urban

Raymond Van Allen

Justin VanNingen

Cooper Wahlo

Connie Yantes

Ermelinda Zamora
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Thank you for your continued support of Merrick, Inc.