Welcome to Merica House

Merica House is home to four women and three men with a variety of severe physical disabilities. The Alliance for the Physically Disabled has helped to make possible the dream of Harry Merica for a home that would allow independent living for severely physically disabled adults. Too often the only option is living out life in a nursing home or other institution. By living together these adults can share the cost of rent, aides, and staff. Many people volunteer time, skills, and resources to truly make Merica House home for these seven.

Thank you for taking some time to learn more about this way to make life better and more cost effective for the severely physically disabled.

Cathy, Deirdre, Joe, Matt, Maureen, and Sharita

Your Friends at Merica House



Dee’s Birthday Party 2018

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, I had the pleasure of watching Five Star Aides celebrate Dee’s birthday.  That is “Five Star Home Health,” but they were easily 5-Star Aides in my eyes.

I told the Aides last week that we would have a small party today for Dee, but I haven’t mentioned it since.  Three of them came out of the kitchen carrying the birthday cake that Dee’s Mom brought to Merica House for her.  One set her cell phone to some music & they began singing a jazzy Happy Birthday, clapping & swaying.  Dee had the biggest grin on her face as she was surrounded by the Aides. When I realized I had not taken any pictures, I ran to my phone (camera) & they assembled quickly to start another happy rendition of Happy Birthday!

Cake was cut & served while Dee opened a couple of gifts.  One of the Aides disappeared and suddenly returned with one of the maintenance men who is always very kind to Dee and thus has a special place in her heart.  He stood smiling at Dee while the Aides went into another singing of Happy Birthday.  Jose the maintenance man even joined in.  He wished Dee a Happy Birthday & Dee looked like she was about to explode with happiness.

We have spent a lot of time being frustrated with Aides in the past but this group – Loretta, Patience, Zewdwa, Awo, & Victoria, have been a joy to work – and sing with.

Names:  Lady in green-Loretta, Burgundy outfit-Victoria, Royal blue-Patience, Lady in black top-Awo, Lady in background in royal blue top-Zewdwa, Lady in gray top-Aida, Gentleman-Jose


Cathy Gets New Furniture

It all started when I began shopping for antiques on Facebook’s section called Marketplace. I don’t normally “do” Facebook but, much to my husband’s disappointment, I “do” online shopping as a hobby. And Marketplace is a treasure trove.

Well, one day Cathy saw me shopping during my lunch hour. I was looking at hutches & she said she wished she had a desk hutch in her room but, she said, what she really wanted was a bedroom set where all the pieces matched. Well, that was a challenge to a shopper like myself.

After looking for a week or 2, I came across a beautiful matching set of white furniture. I messaged the seller to find out if it was available. It was. I asked Cathy if she could go halves on the cost with her Mom & she thought she could, so she asked her Mom. Mom, generously agreed to pay 3/4 ths of the cost.

I contacted the seller again & she gave me her husband’s number. I put it in Mike’s hands to arrange where & when. They decided on the 4th weekend in February. We would have to pick it up in Walkersville, Maryland, close to Baltimore. We made it a family outing, packing up our 2 dogs in the backseat of the truck. The drive wasn’t too bad. We stopped at Merica House first to drop off a “new” office desk chair for me. Mine had dropped to the lowest setting the Friday before & wouldn’t raise back up. The “new” chair was my first actual Facebook Marketplace purchase.

After we dropped off my chair, we went to Maryland. The husband was very nice. He and a friend of his helped Mike load the furniture onto our truck & Mike tied it down like a pro while I took the dogs out of the truck for some exercise.

At Merica House our only male aide, Eligi, brought the dolly to us. Eligi was extremely helpful & fast in getting the furniture into Cathy’s room. We left a mess as the female aides began emptying Cathy’s items from her old furniture to her new furniture. Cathy was very excited & anxious to redecorate her room.

In addition to her furniture, Cathy got to hold our Sadie-Lu puppy for a few minutes. They were sweet together.

Cathy, Mike Burkhart & Eligi


Valentine’s Day at Merica House

We just had Valentines Day at Merica House.  Cathy & Alvin went shopping for groceries & came back with a teddy bear & some red roses for me.  Cathy gave me a hilarious card with a picture of 2 grown women wearing silly glasses & making silly faces.  The inside of the card says “We’re good friends because we share the same high level of maturity & sophistication.”  I love it!  It describes our relationship perfectly. We laugh at & tease each other constantly.  That “sophisticated” relationship has sweetened my years at Merica House.  And it’s far better than mine & my husband’s 35 year habit of buying Valentine’s Day gifts & then opting to throw them at each other.

Cathy was feeling sad about not having a valentine honey this year so Sharita presented her with some Shari’s Berries.  An Aide who accompanies Maureen on her outings gave all the female residents some candy & a flower.  I gave each of the ladies a stuffed animal, cookies for some of the men & a boxed heart full of Reeses miniature cups for Joe.

Below are pictures of Merica House Valentine decorations and some of the valentine gifts we gave each other.



Outing to the Bible Museum

In January one of our great Volunteers, Martin Tillett, took 3 residents to the newly-opened Bible Museum in D.C.  Martin rode on MetroAccess with one of the residents while the other 2 residents took a 2nd MetroAccess van.

One of the highlights was a “live exhibit” in which they were shown how the first newspapers were printed.  They walked through a set of sculptures showing different stages in Jesus’ life.  Alvin said the reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion was very realistic.









Pictures include a photo of Dee with the Capital behind her.  This was the first outing she’s had with Martin & Alvin.


News from Alvin

Winter 2018

My name is Alvin Hagan King. I moved to Merica House on December 1, 2017 from a nursing home.


My disability is called phocamelia. I happened to be born without my arms and my legs. I THANK GOD FOR EVERYTHING. I use an electric wheelchair to help me get around.

I really love being here at Merica House. It’s a homier environment and it’s always a blessing to be around family that cares. “Family” is not always blood related. I have a log of familyship with the residents and parents. I THANK GOD FOR MERICA HOUSE.


News from Matt

Winter 2018










Spring 2014

Matt moved into Merica House in 2009. He likes to watch sports and game shows on television. He is a serious sports fan. His favorite sports are tennis, golf, and college basketball.Matt Renfro

When asked what he likes best about Merica House, he said he likes being with his friends. He enjoys watching Catch 21 and Family Feud with Dee and Sharita.

Matt’s favorite foods are chicken pot pie, Mexican food, and cake.


News from Cathy

Winter 2018


Spring 2014
Cathy was one of the first residents of Merica House. This has been her home for a long time.

Cathy’s favorite thing to do is help people do online research and Facebook.

Her favorite food is fettuccine alfredo. Her favorite type of music is soft rock. Her favorite movie is “Fame” and her favorite TV show is Dukes of Hazard. Cathy is looking forward to Sharita’s confirmation at church. Cathy and Dee will be her sponsors.

Fall 2011
Three weeks ago, Mom and Michelle came over with the twins, Declean and Hope, now seven months old. It was a nice visit. I am so proud to be Tia Cathy! It’s neat to have two little ones in the family!

My friend, Sharita who is like a sister to me, pointed out to them that we gave them Build-A-Bears, we named Izzy and Dex. I can’t wait for them to grow up so that I can have more fun with them!

Here’s my picture as I got ready to go to Morna’s wedding:


News from Sharita

Winter 2018

 Spring 2014

Sharita began going to Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church after Sean’s memorial service. She’s receiving instruction from a member of the church. His name is Tony. Every other week he comes to Merica House to discuss the Catholic faith with Sharita. Sharita’s sponsors at the church are Dee Shields and Cathy Parr. Her confirmation will be in June. Everyone is invited to the church for her confirmation in June.

Cerebral Palsy & Me:

The ability for people with CP to communicate is often iSharita Smilingmpaired. My speech is impaired, but that doesn’t inhibit me from talking. I am determined to express myself so I help people to understand me by repeating myself multiple times, if necessary.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy can be very different between people. My symptoms are very severe, involving both sides of my body and affecting both of my arms and legs. I have some of the most common symptoms, including muscles and joints that are tight and don’t stretch or open up. They have tightened up more over time as I’ve aged. I have always used a wheelchair. I have abnormal movements of my hands, feet, arms, and legs while I’m awake. One of my friends calls my arms “chicken wings.”

Continue reading News from Sharita


News from Maureen

Winter 2018








Spring 2014
Maureen moved to Merica House on March 6, 2007. As to what she likes best about Merica House, she says “It’s like a family.” She Maureen-2014slikes being with Dee, her sister.

Maureen’s favorite activities are going out to eat, shopping, reading books on tape, and “hanging out” with Dee and the other residents. She also participates in church choir. She likes to go to church and she goes to SPARC twice a week.

Maureen’s favorite foods are pizza, chicken patties, rice, and chocolate cake. Her favorite shows are Gilligan’s Island, I Love Lucy, King of Queens, Golden Girls, and The Brady Bunch.

Continue reading News from Maureen