Our Residents

Our Residents

Meet the residents of Merica House. We each have a story to tell and would like you to meet us.

Cathy Parr

My name is Cathy Parr. I was born in Memphis. TN and I’m 39 years old.  I have had spastic cerebral palsy since birth. I moved with my family to Fairfax County, VA when I was 6 years old. My parents live in the area, as well as my brother, his wife and their 8 month old twins. When I graduated from Falls Church High School in 1990, I moved to a group home in Prophetstown, IL, since there was no appropriate living arrangement to be found in the area. There I worked on skills I would need to cope with my severe disability in a community living environment.

I also received an Associate Degree in Word Processing from Sauk County Community College. I use one finger of one hand to access my computer and am quite good at getting around on the Internet. Currently I participate in a social/service club two days a week and volunteer one day a week at a local rehab equipment company. I would love to have a job, but have not yet found the right match for my skills.

I enjoy ceramics, poetry (reading and writing), dancing (I have my own style!), and music. I am very interested in fashion design and would like to do it on the computer.

See more News from Cathy


Deirdre 2015

I am Deirdre Shields and have lived at MH since 2001. I am 36 years old  years old and a graduate of Perkins School for the Blind in Waterstown, Mass. It was there where I learned the skills of independent living and it is here that I use them in my daily life.

I have been diagnosed with an unknown probable white matter disease of the brain. I had what seemed to be normal infant skills up to about 7 months of age and then neurological symptoms developed and over the past years it has left me blind and a quadriplegic.

I moved to Williamsburg, VA three years ago with my parents and one sister and it was there that I met Millie Becker, one of the founders of Merica House. Through her encouragement and help, I applied for residence and have since enjoyed living with the other clients and maintaining my independence.

See more News from Dee


Maureen 2015

I am Maureen Shields and I moved into Merica House on March 6, 2007, after living at home for over 27 yrs. I am 32 yrs old and have 2 sisters and one brother.

I have a progressive undiagnosed neurological disease of the white matter of the brain that has left me blind and quadriplegic. Unlike my sister I did not loose my sight until I was 20 yrs of age.

My sister, Deirdre also lives at Merica House and I thought this would be a good place for me to “spread my wings” and live on my own.  I attend a respite program two times a week, called SPARC, located in Reston, VA.

I also attend church on a regular basis and I am a member of their choir.

For over 20 years my sister and I have attended the Easter Seals Camp in Hebron, CT and we have met and developed many wonderful friendships there. It is always the highlight of our summer.

I enjoy reading books on tape, going out to eat and shopping.

See more News from Maureen


My name is Matt Renfro. My family lives in Gainesville, VA., about 30 miles west of Washington, DC.

I was born 9 weeks premature, weighing 2 lbs. 12 oz. and spent the first 11 weeks of my life in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I have Cerebral Palsy (CP).

I attended public school from pre-school through high school, taking regular education classes. I graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, VA. in 2004. I enrolled at Strayer University right out of high school, so I don’t have any work experience yet. I am working on a BS degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS). I’m a big sports fan especially tennis, golf and college basketball. Also, I enjoy reading a good mystery novel.

See more News from Matt.


Joe Durbin grew up in Northern Virginia.  At an early age he suffered from Glaucoma.  Joe graduated from high school then worked several jobs, answering telephones.  His employers included AT&T, Virginia Hospital Center and Pizza Hut.  These employers provided special equipment to enable Joe to perform his duties, despite his deteriorating sight.  Joe earned a sound technician certificate, which he hoped would pave the way for a career in sound engineering, once he lost his sight.

Joe eventually lost his ability to walk due to a traumatic brain injury suffered when he fell victim to a physical attack.  Joe possesses a dry wit and sense of humor and loves reading murder mysteries and enjoys listening to music.