Merrick House celebrates reopening of newly refurbished gym and tech loft
(Plain Press, March 2022) Merrick House celebrated the reopening of its newly refurbished gym and tech loft on February 18th with a ribbon cutting ceremony, speeches, a live DJ, a slam dunk contest, and ball handling drills for the children. Merrick House in a press release said, “The nearly 100-year-old gym has been provided with fresh paint, new back boards and rims, upgrades to the electrical and networking systems, and a new floor with a mural designed by Dakarai Akil and hand painted by Luis Perez Hero Flooring. In partnership with Microsoft and Mobil 1 this has been made possible.”
Merrick House Executive Director Harriet Hadley said, “Merrick House is so grateful for the generosity of Microsoft, Hoop Bus, Councilman Kerri McCormack, Project Backboard and Mobil 1 for the renovations of the gym and added tech space. Our member’s ages 6 to 17 years old can come to Merrick House, for after school programming and summer camp, and enjoy high quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities in a beautiful and functional space conducive to learning and growing. This is a wonderful opportunity that this community will enjoy for years to come”.
Hadley noted that over 100 years ago, Merrick House was founded during a global pandemic to serve neighborhood residents and is still doing that today with its early childhood programs, youth programs, MomsFirst program, and its adult education and employment programs. Hadley thanked her team at Merrick House, board members and staff, for “going over and beyond the call of duty” to provide quality programming at Merrick House. In her seventh month at Merrick House as Executive Director, Hadley cited a need for more donations, contributions, and grants to help keep the doors open and to allow Merrick House to expand the staff of its youth programs to offer more tutoring, STEM and other services to area youth.
“Merrick House is not only a reliable, safe, and engaging place for community members of all ages to explore, but it is also a collaborative partner to other organizations in and around Cleveland,” said Shanelle Moon, new Director of Youth Programs at Merrick House. “As a neighborhood center we are able to allow other organizations and programs to utilize spaces like our gym to offer things like karate, Zumba, and sports camps. In the youth program we will be continuing the programs that our youth members and their families have enjoyed in the past as well as offering a multitude of new programs and experiences to members”.
Merrick House Board President Megan Meister urged people to give generously to Merrick House. County Council District 7 Representative Yvonne Conwell said she had recently agreed to serve on Merrick House Board and would do what she could to help secure additional funds for programs at Merrick House.
Bryce Huschka, Mobil 1 North American Marketing Initiative Manager, said Mobil 1 was happy to help with the tune up and updating of the basketball court so neighborhood youth can do more of what they love.
Darrell Booker, Corporate Affairs Specialist with Microsoft, said the computer lab at Merrick House was designed to improve digital literacy. He said, in order to bridge the digital divide, it was important for organizations like Merrick House to have “the latest and greatest technology.”
Plans call for Cleveland-based DigitalC, through its affordable high-speed internet service provider EmpowerCLE+, to deliver the broadband connection for Merrick House’s tech loft. “We’re honored to connect Merrick House families to the digital world through access to our high-speed internet service,” said Angela Thi Bennet Director of Advocacy & Impact at DigitalC.
Following the speeches at the February 18th celebration, the ribbon was cut, and a DJ played music and helped conduct a slam dunk contest. Channing Frye, a member of the Cleveland Cavalier’s 2016 championship team, posed for photos and chatted with those in attendance. Children were invited to try out the new basketball court by participating in a ball handling workshop.