Moving the Dream Forward

When you visit the United Way of the Mid-South’s website for its Driving the Dream ‘Out of Poverty’ program you find the following description of what Driving the Dream is: “Driving The Dream (DTD) envisions a Mid‐South in which all people have equitable access to resources and supports needed to achieve their hopes and dreams by fostering a community where the people we serve are hopeful, resilient, and self‐sufficient.

DTD is leading a movement, and Meritan recently became one of four Hubs in the Mid-South area to help drive the dream of community. A community where a system uncomplicates itself in order to help people fulfill their dreams of having the lives they want or envision.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting one of our Meritan Driving the Dream participants and she was excited to let me tell her story of how she came to Meritan and what her hopes and dreams are as a result of this new initiative.

First, I don’t want to call this a program. Driving the Dream to us here at Meritan is a new way to do business and to do the business of human service well. This new way is about wrapping services around people from one point of entry in order to help them navigate through systems based upon what is important and a priority for them.

Meet Angela Soto. Angela was referred to Meritan through the United Way. Angela has two children and currently resides in a shelter. She had recently relocated to Memphis from Chicago for her relationship and when that didn’t work out she found herself homeless with her children.

Angela and Rhavan

Angela and Rhavan

Enter Rhavan Mitchell, Meritan DTD Care Coordinator. Rhavan is one of a kind. A connector, mentor, and navigator for those whom she serves. As Angela told me, she was simply grateful for Rhavan, “it was like I was following the breadcrumbs to her.” How powerful is that!

As Angela explained to me, with two children who required childcare she had a number of urgent priority needs. Those included childcare, housing, and a job. Here was her dilemma: You can’t get housing without a job and you can’t get a job without childcare and you need a job that is flexible enough to understand your childcare needs and allow you to work when your kids are in childcare but off if one is sick. Whew! Not many of us are faced with those complications!

What to do? Rhavan completed the intake and all the necessary assessments on Angela and found out that not only is she bright but she’s an entrepreneur as well. Back in Chicago, Angela owned her own business. This girl can bake up a cake, cookies or cupcakes and has the most incredible creative spirit that allows her to design your goodies based on your inspiration (see a few of her recent creations). But in order for Angela to even begin to get back to business ownership, she had to start again. Rhavan then met with Meritan’s Program Director for HCBS In-Home Services and arranged an interview. Needless to say, Angela aced that interview and will be starting soon as a Meritan Homecare Specialist, a job that gives her the flexibility she needs and a way to establish new connections to rebuild her business right here in Memphis.

Angela is currently on the list for housing and will be able to give her children a home and stability, has childcare, and is slated to start orientation for her new job soon. So you see, the Dream can be Driven forward when we navigate systems, connect people and mentor and encourage them to keep dreaming.

As for Angela, the Driving the Dream team wish her nothing but the best as we know that her future dream is right in front of her.

Posted on July 8, 2019 .

Many thanks to Catholic Charities of West Tennessee!


Meritan, Inc. is thrilled to announce a generous donation from Catholic Charities of West Tennessee to provide monthly $500 Kroger Gift Cards to assist in the fight against hunger for many of our clients..  One hundred percent of these donated gift cards will directly benefit twelve (12) clients for the purchase of nutritional food for each client needs. These clients are part of Meritan’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Supportive Living program and our Community Living Support CHOICES program.

Clients in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities program live semi-independently in their own home or in a family model caregiver home.  The focus is to provide community integration for these individuals by assisting them with going into the community for dining, shopping, and even seeking employment as desired by providing them with opportunities to live, work and play in the communities of their choice.  

Clients in the Community Living Support Program are adults (age 21 and older) with a physical disability and seniors (age 65 and older) who require assistance and support with their daily living skills. This program offers services to allow a person remain in their own home and participate in the community. These services are provided in the home, on the job, or in the community in an effort to assist them with daily living activities and allow people to work and be actively involved in their local community.  

Meritan provides health, life, and social services to at-risk populations of all ages across four states and helps nearly 1,500 persons improve their well-being and independence every year.

Services include specialized foster care, on-the-job training and career services for low income seniors, home health, homemaker services, and independent living and support services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  Meritan is also a member of the Memphis area Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse team assisting victims of elder abuse.

Meritan is proud to have a long standing relationship with Catholic Charities of West Tennessee as they also serve as a job training site for many of Meritan’s senior employment training participants assisting the participants in learning new skills to seek permanent employment.

Posted on September 17, 2018 and filed under Intellectual Disabilities.

Back to School ….It Isn’t Just for Kids

Adulting isn’t easy! 

Written by Yolanda Webb

Returning to school as an adult

Returning to school as an adult

When we are kids we always say, “I can’t wait until I’m an adult!”  But that reality sets in once you reach that milestone of 20, 30,40,50  and beyond.  Whether it’s marriage, career, kids, bills, health concerns or just the everyday of keeping the everyday moving.  Adulting is hard. 

And sometimes on top of all the everyday stuff is that dream of going back to school to finish, to get a higher degree or just to improve your own potential. 

But, earning a degree is different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school.   Now that you’re at a different time in your life with more defined goals, life skills and experience your focus on going back to school can be for different reasons.

But as you ponder your next steps before or after retirement what do you need to ask yourself about taking the plunge and going back to school?

Will I Have Room in My Schedule?

Balancing a job, family, and other obligations with school won't be easy.  But it can be done. With the right amount of planning, you can too. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day. Simply knowing you have a plan can go a long way.

Beyond this plan, you'll need support from those around you. Before you start classes, let your family know that they'll have to pitch in a little more while you’re in school. Then, talk with your friends about why you’re continuing your education and how much this means to you, so that they can offer emotional support and will understand if you miss the occasional get-together.

Have I Been Out of School Too Long?

In reality, your life and work experience will likely benefit you as a student. Instructors appreciate adult learners who ask informed questions and bring real-world examples to class discussions. Besides that, if you've participated in continuing education courses, learned new software, or had to prepare for presentations at work, then you’ve already been using many of the same skills you’ll need in school.

Today, nontraditional students are becoming the norm and schools often design undergraduate and graduate degree programs with adult learners in mind.

Am I Skilled Enough with Computers or New Technology?

Online programs, these days are designed with ease of use as a key goal for everyone, regardless of technological expertise. So many careers require computer skills today anyway, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you.

Will I be Able to Manage the Cost of My Education?

An important aspect of returning to school is knowing what return on investment to expect from your program. Tools like the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can offer helpful details about the value of education in specific fields. If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options—including federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. By transferring credit from past college experience, you may be able to save time and money. And remember, you can always take one or two courses to start and not a full course load.

Moving Forward with Confidence

Remember, age can play in your favor when going back to school. Life and work experience often teach lessons and skills that young students rarely possess, things like time management and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed. As an adult, you’re likely more organized, responsible, and motivated to get your degree.

Remember going back to school now means you are doing this for you and for your own dreams, aspirations and goals.


Tips For Enjoying the Sights and Sounds of Summer 

written by Yolanda Webb

Summer Tips

Summer Tips

I know it when I hear it!  “Summer summer summertime Time to sit back and unwind…”

The sounds of summer almost always begin with Will Smith, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air ushering in summer time with the song that has become the anthem of every backyard barbecue or family reunion.  

Summer Time.  Young or old you know the song.  And if you listen to the lyrics they take you back to your youth and inspire you to days gone by.

But let’s be’s hot as...well you know.  That song while it inspires us to get outside doesn’t prepare us on how to take in that summer heat.  And let’s face it for many of us that are now while past that prime of summer time, rules on how best to take care of ourselves and those we serve are what’s needed right now.

So how do you sneak in that much needed vitamin D and unwind by spending more time out in the sun?  Try a few of these health tips for summer living outdoors.

  1. Hydrate - Drink water before, during and after any outdoor activity.  Whether a party in the park or running those exercise laps, drink at least 4 ounces of water for every 20 minutes you are outside.

  2. Protect yourself - Everybody needs sunscreen.  And I mean everybody. It does not matter how much melanin you have in your skin you need sunscreen.  Apply a waterproof broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. If you are using a towel while standing at that grill to wipe your face...reapply every two hours or so.

  3. Eat Fresh Fruit - The biggest reason I love summer...the number of local farmers markets or fruit and vegetable vendors selling locally.  When I was a kid growing up we would visit my grandmother in Mobile and everyday, Bump...yep that was his name...Bump would come around in that fruit and vegetable truck and give each kid a plum or peach.  My grandmother would buy ears of corn, watermelon, strawberries, pecans, grapes and more.

  4. Check the time - Did you know the best time to be outside is before 10 a.m and after 4 p.m?  The sun’s rays are often their hottest between those times.

  5. Protect others -  If you have children or an elderly parent or client, protect their face, neck and shoulders with a large brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of summer and to help kick off your summer time enjoy this listen of Summertime by Will Smith (The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff) 


10 Steps to Become a Foster Parent

written by Alex Williams

Memphis Needs More Foster Families! As many as 863 children are in the Shelby County foster care system. This is highest number in Tennessee. To avoid placing these children in group homes or away from their siblings, more foster families are needed.

What is Foster Care?

You can become a foster parent!

You can become a foster parent!

Foster care provides care for children and youth who are not able to live with their biological parents. When parents are unable, unwilling or unfit to care for a child, the child must be placed in a safe place.

You Can Change the Life of a Child! How Can I Become a Foster Parent?

  • Can be single or married
  • At least 21 years of age
  • With, or without children of your own
  • Financially stable
  • In good health
  • Willing to submit background checks and fingerprint testing

What is Expected of Me as a Foster Parent?

  • Be able to give without the expectation of immediate returns
  • Have sufficient room in your home as well as your daily life
  • Learn and use proven behavior management skills
  • Love and care for children regardless of their problems
10 Steps to Become a Foster Parent

10 Steps to Become a Foster Parent

“You were born with the ability to change someone’s life. Don’t ever waste it.” -Anonymous

Here are the 10 Steps to Become a Foster Parent. We need you!

  1. Log onto
  2. Click the foster care link
  3. Fill in the basic contact information
  4. The information will be received
  5. The appropriate state will do a follow-up
  6. Meet the qualifications
  7. Complete PATH (Parents as Tender Healers)
  8. Provide 5 references
  9. Participate in a Home Study process
  10. Be a foster parent!
Posted on July 3, 2018 .

June is World Elder Abuse Month!

written by Alex Williams

World Elder Abuse Awareness

World Elder Abuse Awareness

Every year we dedicate June to Elder Abuse. On June 15, we observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day is an opportunity to raise awareness of elder abuse and neglect and renew our commitment preserving the rights of older adults. For Elder Abuse Month, we would like to give you the signs of elder abuse.

What to Look For: Signs of Abuse provided by the Tennessee Department of Human Services

Physical Abuse

  • Bruising, especially on the torso or head
  • Frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents"
  • Signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists 

Emotional Abuse

  • Isolation of the vulnerable adult or refusal to allow visits with the vulnerable adult alone
  • Threatening, belittling or controlling behavior by the caregiver that you see
  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration
  • Behavior that mimics dementia, such as rocking, sucking or mumbling
  • Outbursts or extreme anger or punishment like the silent treatment 

Sexual Abuse

  • Frequent genital or urinary tract irritation and infection
  • An indication of bruising to genitals, upper torso or upper thighs
  • Vulnerable adult indicates discomfort with the caregiver while bathing, dressing, or toileting
  • Vulnerable adult has little or no privacy for bating or dressing which bothers him or her

We are partnered with Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse (CREA). CREA’s services are intended for individuals over the age of 60 who may be abused and who are seeking services in response to elder abuse. With this partnership, we are able to better advocate and protect the elderly!


Posted on June 6, 2018 and filed under Foster Care.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

written by Yolanda Webb and images provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mental Health Stigma

Mental Health Stigma

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but the truth is that every day, each and every one of us could do ourselves a favor and check in with our mental and emotional selves.

Mental Health 

Mental Health 

What does that mean?  Well when my children were young and in school, I started a tradition that my daughter continues to this day.  Each quarter they were allowed to take a mental health day.  Or, as we say in the business world, a personal day.  If we need personal days in the world of work I often much so do children need that refuge in their own lives. 


So your mental health day is and should be a day that is totally dedicated to yourself, your wholeness, your human... being and becoming your true and authentic self.  

Each of my children would choose a different day (and this was important so that the day was truly theirs), and the day was planned around what they wanted to do that made them feel good (internally and externally).  Sometimes it was the movies, and for my daughter it was a spa day, or going to the amusement park.  For my son it was going to a ball game in the middle of the day, or just relaxing at home with his games.

We all need to feel emotionally healthy? Have you ever asked yourself what you need to feel mentally and physically healthy? 

Do you take care of those aspects of yourself? Do you have friends who check in on you? Do you reach out when you need help?

Taking care of others in the field of human service means putting the service first into ourselves.  

Sometimes breaking bread with another person, to fill that space can help to put that service in being human front and center in your life. Social connection and feeling in community with others are critical to our emotional and mental health.

So today, why not connect or reconnect with yourself, become your own best friend, do the hard things for your own life and by this time next May, who knows you may have grown healthier in mind, body and's to great mental health for all of us!

For more information about what you can do for Mental Health Awareness Month, please go to or

Posted on May 14, 2018 and filed under Home Health, In Home Personal Care.

Home and Community Based Services Shining Star Award

February 2018 Employee of the Month - Lillie Preyer

We are very pleased to announce Lillie Preyer as our February 2018 Shining Star.  Lillie is a Home Care Specialist who is always ready to help our Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) clients.  The HCBS department can always rely on Lillie to provide clients with the best care. Not only is she organized, but she is patient, kind and an asset to the HCBS department.  Lillie was selected by the Employee Recognition Committee (ERC) because she demonstrates a high level of professionalism that sets a great example for all of her peers. She is a very reliable and conscientious home care specialist who provides quality of care to all of her clients. She is always willing to make herself available to accept new assignments or fill-in as needed without hesitation.  She will work seven days a week to make sure our clients are taken care of. Lillie’s dedication to her clients is EXCEPTIONAL.  She always puts her client’s needs first and has taken on several difficult clients while continuing to perform exceptionally.  Lillie’s dedication to her clients is obvious in everything she does! She embraces the Meritan values and beliefs, showing that just one person can make a difference.

Lillie has been a Home Care Specialist with Meritan, Inc. since July 5, 2016.  She has a great personality and a warm heart which her clients love her for.

Lillie said, "I love to make my clients happy. I do what I need to do and get it done."

We are happy to have Lillie on our team!

Meritan Staff

Meritan Staff

Shining Star
Employee Appreciation
Shining Star Award

Shining Star Award

Posted on April 12, 2018 .


Honoring the Legacy….Living the Dream #MLK50

by Yolanda Webb


THE year after I was born, my mother participated in a lunch counter sit-in in Mobile, Alabama.  With her two little girls, she joined a chorus of other young black women and men sitting in at lunch counters from Greensboro, North Carolina down through Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama.  By the end of that year those silent protesters would help to integrate restaurants in 108 cities across the country.

Beloved Community

Now nearly 80 years old, my mother (and my father prior to his passing) would regal us with their stories of the Civil Rights movement.  Over the years because of their involvement, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of the icons of those times, Andrew Young, John Lewis and Jesse Jackson to name a few.


Yet, it's the stories of the untold that have intrigued me the most.  It’s in those untold stories that we can realize the ‘Beloved Community’ that Dr. King spoke so eloquently about.  

For example, many of the seniors we serve here at Meritan in Memphis have stories of hope and courage that filled their lives with pride as they participated in this dream of the Beloved Community when they encountered humanity's greatest challenge and witnessed its greatest change.  

(photo courtesy of MLK Archives)

(photo courtesy of MLK Archives)

The month of April marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel here in Memphis, and MLK50, a commerration of that event is being hosted by the National Civil Rights Museum (which was formerly the Lorraine Motel) through a series of events all year long.

I can still remember that day 50 years ago, like it was yesterday, forever cemented in the minds of those of us who understood its significance and meaning.  My parents both fell silent when the news rang out. My grandmother's silent sobs permeated every room in our house. My father walking outside to dispel his anger and sadness, away from the eyes of his frightened family.  

This year as we mark that turning point in America’s history we are reminded as a partner in Driving the Dream, the United Way of the Mid-South’s signature project to move citizens of Memphis and the Mid-South beyond poverty and hopelessness, that we can still realize Dr. King’s vision.  

Meritan’s programs to help children, adults, the elderly and the disabled has a role in helping carry this torch forward for the Beloved Community, and I am (like you) proud to be here and be a torchbearer for this, our beloved community.  

By the way, if you haven’t attended an MLK50 event...what are you waiting for?

Posted on April 9, 2018 .


by Yolanda Webb, Associate Vice President Home & Community Based Services


A few weeks ago this northern girl put her winter coat away in anticipation of Spring, only however, to pull it out again a week later.

Like you, I’m more than ready for endless sunshine, warm weather, night walks, and picnics in the park. Just as I was thinking those warm weather thoughts and Mother Nature was outwitting me, it occurred to me that you and I are not the only ones who may be anticipating the forward movement of the seasons.  Those we serve who are homebound often do not get to experience these anticipated joys of spring again.

That thoughtful reflection prompted me to consider what those of us who work in human services for individuals who are elderly or who have a disability can do for those who spend more time inside their homes than out.  In other words how can we bring Spring outside in.

I just love this time of year and the idea of springing forward, shedding the old and bringing in the new can work wonders to improve health and overall quality of life.  So in the light of this new season what can you and I do to help those we serve...spring forward? Here are 3 tips to get you springing forward:

  1. Help your client look around and gather ideas about spring cleaning.  This time of letting go can prompt them to declutter, especially some of them who live in smaller spaces.  This can also be a time for opening or cleaning blinds and wiping down windows to bring more of the sunshine indoors.

  2. And what about bringing more of the outdoors indoors?  Fresh cut flowers or even Air Fresheners that give off a hint of spring in their fragrance can make a home more airy and bright.

  3. And what would spring be without fresh fruit and/or ice cream (watch out for those dietary restrictions).  Enjoying the taste of the season is a great way to bring spring to someone who may not get to experience those sights, sounds, smells and taste that can often remind them of their youth and improve their well being.

While these are wonderful tips for those we serve, let’s not forget about self-care during this season of renewal.  This season also prompts us ( I know I get to thinking about what I can throw out) to spring clean our own homes, and to rid ourselves of what no longer serves our souls.  

This is also a great time to plant seeds - not just in our gardens, but at work and home - by doing new projects, creating new adventures, and starting new relationships by expanding our professional and personal networks.  I love this season as it reminds me of all the adventures life is ready and willing to spring forward.

So starting today, spring forward in your life and the lives of others - it’s planting season!


Posted on March 23, 2018 .

February Foster Parent of the Month!

February Prize Patrol Winners with Meritan Foster Care Staff!

February Prize Patrol Winners with Meritan Foster Care Staff!

Foster Care Parent of the Month was created to recognize foster parents for their dedication in working with any foster youth that enters their home. A prize patrol parent is chosen monthly to represent each month of the year. Foster Care of the Month was initiated in September 2017.

Meritan February Foster Care Parents of the Month Winners! Congratulations!

Meritan February Foster Care Parents of the Month Winners! Congratulations!

During the fourth staff meeting of every month, the TN Foster Care staff recommends 3 foster parents who have met the criteria of being the Foster Care Parent of the Month. In order to be chosen, there must be proof that the foster parent met the criteria for 4 consecutive months.

The criteria is:

  • Submission of timely documentation 
  • Completion of ongoing training 
  • Successful collaboration with Meritan, DCS, and other Involved Adults, 
  • Active participation and 
  • Transportation to any form of appointments, family visits, and school visits.

The responsible foster care staff makes sure that all psychological, social, and educational needs have been met. Once the Foster Care Parent of the Month is chosen, a surprise visit to the home with as many foster care staff as possible, is conducted. The foster parent is presented with a gift basket with a card signed by the foster care staff and sweet treats. 

Congratulations to our February Foster Care Parents of the Month winners!

Q and A about our Foster Care Parents of the Month winners, the Wardlows.

Where are the foster parents from? The foster parents are from Tennessee.

Interesting Facts? The foster parents are very involved with any child placed in their home socially and educationally. The Wardlow's provide ongoing support in every aspect to each foster youth. 

What made you choose them to win? The TN foster care staff selected the Wardlow's as the Foster Care Parents of the Month for February based on their hard work and dedication in fostering. They met the necessary criteria to be chosen as the Foster Care Parents of the Month!

Posted on March 7, 2018 and filed under Foster Care.

Black History Month - A Tribute to Caregiving in African-American Families

 by Yolanda Webb

Photo taken by Yolanda Webb

Photo taken by Yolanda Webb

The Beauty of Black History is that we are still making it every single day.  As we celebrate Black History this month, it has been interesting for me to research and define a profile that summarizes caregiving and those who are entering the field of in-home care (either as family caregivers or paid supports) to help provide quality services and supports to those requiring such services.

It should be noted that the face of caregiving is changing and varies from family caregiver models to hiring quality service providers like Meritan to provide in-home care.  What are the characteristics of those who are entering the caregiving field now or those caring for loved ones at home?  According to AARP, the typical caregiver is 44.2 years old (those entering the field as well), is in very good health, has an outgoing personality, can assist with up to 4.2 ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) and can provide a comforting and quality of life environment for the care recipient.  

Since the in-home caregiving model has also expanded in recent years beyond senior care to include, individuals with Developmental Disabilities, those with HIV/AIDS, and other chronic conditions (mostly due to changes in Medicaid Managed Care guidelines), I thought I would share the names and experiences of some famous African-Americans who have served or are serving in caregiving roles and share their thoughts on working with those with disabilities, the elderly or those with other chronic conditions.  Their words of wisdom are shared to honor the role caregivers play in the lives of those they serve.  

Samuel L. Jackson - who lost his mother to Alzheimer's

“Laughter is good medicine for the caregiver and the person cared for.”  Jackson became the celebrity host for the Alzheimer's Association’s event called Hilarity for Charity recently and recounted his days as a sole caregiver for his mother who suffered from dementia and lost her fight in 2012.

Holly Robinson-Peete - “Caregivers must accept the hard decision”

Actress, and wife of NFL star Rodney Peete recounts the day it became clear that her father had to transition from in-home care to a 24-hour facility.  While the care was phenomenal, moving her father from independence to dependence was one of the hardest decisions she and her brother ever had to make.

Oprah Winfrey - “Let the Sunshine In”

Recently on Super Soul Sunday, Oprah Winfrey talked about the role of caregivers (both family and paid in-home supports) and getting through the process by getting help through understanding the emotions the person cared for must go through.  Winfrey asked if caregivers would consider learning more from the joyful times the person may have had rather than focus on the needs being cared for.  And to remember that the person has/had a full life of laughter, love, hope and joy.

Dan Gasby - (husband of famed model and restaurateur B. Smith who has Alzheimer's) - “It’s definitely the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life.”  The two wrote the bestselling book, “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's.

Queen Latifah - The actress cares for her ailing mom who lives with the chronic condition of heart failure.  

Blair Underwood - The star’s mom has physical disabilities and his 2013 television show Ironside he described as “kind of a tribute to her,” as he helps to provide her in-home care.

This Black History Month, I’m reminded of the wonderful stories of caregiving I hear on a daily basis from clients, their families and staff alike, and the tremendous progress we have made in human service to ensure that those with disabilities, who are elderly or have physical disabilities/chronic conditions continue to live lives of dignity and respect.

Laughter Is Still the Best Medicine

by Yolanda Webb

“Act as if what you do makes a difference...It does” - William James


Getting older comes with its ups and downs. For some people, life after 65 represents the golden years, but for many, those years can be filled with loneliness, aches and pains, poverty,  unexplained illnesses, and a plethora of doctor visits that can make life itself really hard. While there are many options in caregivers, the best caregivers are those that understand that one of the best ways to help someone feel better is also the simplest.  Laughter.  Bringing laughter and light into the life of a senior can often alleviate many of the pains of growing old.  Here are a number of reasons why laughter and light heartedness may have been lost, and why laughter may be the best medicine:

As we age, we often lose touch with the people that enriched our lives the most when we were younger.  Friends may move away for retirement or have medical problems of their own that can make it harder to stay in touch. Just as friendships and community participation are important parts of growing up, they are also essential for us as we grow older.

Chevalier quote.jpg
  • While there are many senior opportunities to connect, some seniors, like those who are bed fast / bed bound, may not always have the chance to reconnect with the community behind the walls of their own homes.  Getting involved can be hard at first.  Helping the senior or disabled person to focus on activities they’ve always enjoyed such as games, singing or card playing, can help them reconnect with that laughter and light heartedness they thought was long gone.

  • Helping the senior or disabled person to connect with church or community groups that may be amenable to doing home visits  can help the individual make new friends while enjoying an afternoon or evening of laughter.

  • The people we have around us can easily influence our own outlook and attitudes.  Working with a senior who may already be experiencing the pains of loneliness or depression can only be exacerbated if we bring our own problems or negative attitudes into their lives.  If you have negative friends, family members, or outlook on life, they could be harming those we serve. Look for ways to bring more laughter and light into your daily life as your share the joy of laughter with someone who needs our help..

Many seniors feel they have little control over their circumstances, but simply changing your focus when we serve and support them can bring welcome relief.  As caregivers and those who serve we must always try reminding ourselves every day of the importance of laughter, and you may be able to affect change in those around you.


November 13, 2017

“Doing ordinary things, EXTRAordinarily well!”

Yolanda Webb, MA

Associate Vice President Home and Community Based Services

Unsung Hereos: Terry Smith, Barbara Washington, Lillie Preyer, Loretta Suggs, Deanne Thomas, Rosie Kennedy, Vernisha White, Beverly Miller, Betty Wallace, Jane Burnette, Cantai Moore, Delores Jones, Candice Washington, Casandra Newsom, Rachel Jackson, Sylvia Williams, Darquisha Killon, Barbara Singleton, Mary Cooper, Mozella Brown, Helen Carr, Sharon Jordan, Jacqueline Macklin, Patricia Turner.   Photo Credit: Y. Webb  

Unsung Hereos: Terry Smith, Barbara Washington, Lillie Preyer, Loretta Suggs, Deanne Thomas, Rosie Kennedy, Vernisha White, Beverly Miller, Betty Wallace, Jane Burnette, Cantai Moore, Delores Jones, Candice Washington, Casandra Newsom, Rachel Jackson, Sylvia Williams, Darquisha Killon, Barbara Singleton, Mary Cooper, Mozella Brown, Helen Carr, Sharon Jordan, Jacqueline Macklin, Patricia Turner.   Photo Credit: Y. Webb

As we approach this holiday season amid the hustle and bustle, and the aromas and pleasant smells of good food, and sacred and shared family memories, we often forget to stop and think a minute about those who may not have a shared family meal or the smell of grandma's Cornbread Dressing, Greens, Sweet Potato Pie and that Ham or Turkey with all the trimmings. 

Age, distance and time can creep up on you, and before you know are one of the many lonely, older souls whose dearest family members, and old friends are all gone, or your own adaptive living skills, have deteriorated and left you lonely and with  the loss of control over your own life.  

Needing help with toileting, bathing, walking, and managing one's household is sometimes filled with shame and fear, from once proud people who now fear this type of help more often than death.

One ray of hope and light  in these difficult moments is the help and support our Home Care Specialist provide.  This often overlooked support system can pour more hope into the lives of people in one day, than many of us do in a lifetime. 

While we always talk about how much money we can save in our field by “keeping people out of nursing homes, and in their own homes,” I think a part of that conversation that is far too often overlooked is the “human” part in this human service. 

While we may help with ADL’s (Adaptive Living Skills), and provide a service that helps decrease the need for institutionalized care, such as nursing homes, Home Care Specialist also provide something more.

Relational connection to the larger community has proven itself to be one of the primary components of good health (don’t believe me check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s number three on the list).  This role of Home Care Specialist requires substantial skills and special personality traits.   These unsung heroes do intimate and difficult work, and I believe it is important to recognize and thank these unsung heroes, who may one day care for your parents, grandparents, or other family members. 

While the baby boomer generation is reaching its pinnacle, this field of human service will need more and more of these talented, caring individuals and it will be up to us here at Meritan to continue to provide the training, and the opportunities for these unsung heroes to help our clients be successful, remain at home and,  “improve well-being and promote independence throughout life's stages with quality and compassion.” 

So this holiday season, if you know a Home Care Specialist, Direct Service Provider or Personal Support Aide, give them a big holiday “Thank You” for a job well done!



“I Got My Joy Back!”

October 12, 2017

Yolanda Webb, MA                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Associate Vice President of Home and Community Based Services

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto Monkey Business Images  In Home Services 

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto Monkey Business Images

In Home Services 

When I first spoke with the caregiver over the phone, a daughter who had uprooted her life to move back home after more than 30 years living halfway across the country, I could tell she was in despair.

On the verge of tears she told me that she had moved back to the area about a year ago. What could be so hard, she had said to her other siblings, after all this was their mother!

But, as their mother’s Dementia worsened, she found she was both physically and emotionally exhausted.  What she learned was that being a caregiver felt more like being a lone ranger than a dutiful daughter.  

She had done all the things she thought she should do.  She had created a schedule for her mom, had scheduled activities and appointments, took care of the house, ran errands and so much more.  

When her mother could help out it wasn’t so bad.  However, as the Dementia rapidly worsened she found that she needed help.  She also realized that she was becoming angry.

She was riding an emotional roller coaster, she knew her mother wouldn’t get better, she knew that taking turns with her younger siblings was out of the question.  They both lived out of town and had families of their own.  

She was tired and she knew that even though she had promised her mother she would always be there, she was failing.  

She could no longer fulfill that promise.

She called Meritan and we worked through a plan to get her mother the help she needed, and connected her to resources she needed as a caregiver as well.

Recently she called me and we talked.  This is what she said, “Thank you to Meritan, the two wonderful staff you sent me, and to you for helping me find care for me as the primary caregiver.  

   “You don’t know how good it is, she said, to have my joy back!”

   She said that over and over, “I got my joy back!”

Here at Meritan our caregiving philosophy includes both client and caregiver to support the whole person through a person-centered approach.  Thanks to all the wonderful staff we have who help support our clients and their families through their own unique journeys…to get their joy back!        


In Case of Emergency

September 15, 2017

Yolanda Webb, MA                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Associate Vice President of Home and Community Based Services

For Yolandas blog.png

Welcome to our monthly blog where we hope you will find useful information on our in-home personal support services for seniors and or disabled individuals, and information that will help you, if you are a caregiver, to navigate the next steps in the journey of life that presents the “what if’s,” for families.   

My first blog just so happens to coincide with the conclusion of two major hurricanes.  Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.  My mother, who is nearly eighty years old, lives alone in Alabama.  This is a woman who is fiercely independent, and as a former social worker knows all about emergency preparedness.

Early one morning when Hurricane Irma was fast approaching off the coast of Florida, I received a frantic phone call from my sister who lives in Michigan.  It went something like this;

Sister:  “Hey, what are we gonna do about mom!?”

Me:  “What, who’s mom?” I’m kinda groggy because it’s 2:45 am.

Sister:  “Our mom, wake up!  That hurricane is about to hit Florida and we need to get mom out of there!”

Me:  “Oh, hi sis!  I talked to her and she does not want to leave.  She said she’s fine!”

Sis:  “She’s not fine, she’s old!”

My sister and I went back and forth for the next hour (I was clearly up by then), but my mother had made herself perfectly clear the day before.  She did not want to leave.  

So what do you do for those who may be elderly or disabled, whether they live far away or near by, and you want to ensure they are safe and in good hands.  

In talking with my mother the next day we struck a compromise.  In-home personal care or rather companionship.  She was not willing to give up her independence, but would compromise to allow an agency like Meritan, who had quality ratings, come in and check on her and follow up with our family as her line of support.  

Seniors or disabled individuals who can become stranded at home during natural disasters or emergency situations can often become fearful and disoriented, or in my mother's case afraid to lose their independence if they are forced to move from their homes.  So what can you do in situations like this to help seniors prepare in emergency situations?  Here are a few tips I hope you find as useful as we did.  

In-Home Caregivers: Caregivers with our in-home personal support services can check on their senior/disabled clients during emergency situations using smartphones or email (if available).

Near by Family/Friends/Neighbors: As in my mom’s case we contacted all of our family who lived near by.  But, we went a few steps further. Because my mom doesn’t live in assisted living facility, but wanted her own ‘retirement’ apartment, she lives in a wonderful complex that has both seniors and young families.  We met several of the neighbors when we moved her in and gave two of them all of her contact information and all of our contact information.

The lady who lives upstairs from her in the complex kept us informed on the status of the hurricane and its potential impact on Alabama.  She also checked in with us when she checked on my mom (which was twice a day) and she would call me personally out of my mom’s presence to let me know if she thought I needed to come to Alabama.

Get to Know Your Community's Emergency Personnel: My sister and I went one last step further when we moved my mother to Alabama.  We visited the local fire department and medical center where my mother would receive care during an emergency.  Relationships help build up trust and in an emergency my mom could put a face and maybe name to the first responders who would come to assist her in a time of need.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma won’t be our last storms or natural disasters.  Being prepared is our first line of defense to help our loved ones get case of emergency.

Second Chances!

Meritan is proud to offer our participants in our Senior Employment Program the opportunity to learn how to use tablets.  This program was graciously funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.  From downloading apps to completing online job applications, the first group of participants have recently completed their training and will now began training other participants!

First Tablet Class.jpg

  During the process, one of the participants,  Ms. Fannie Holt, created the amazing video below!

Posted on July 11, 2017 and filed under Senior Employment.

Meritan offers CNA Tuition Assistance!

Congratulations Angelique Davis!

Congratulations Angelique Davis!

Congratulations to Melody Hampton!

Congratulations to Melody Hampton!

Meritan offers CNA Tuition Assistance for individuals wishing to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). The training is a 5-week course that involves classroom work, facility orientation, and hands-on instruction. To qualify, you must have worked for at least 20 hours per week for at least four weeks, worked for the agency for at least sixth months, and not had any disciplinary action within the last 12 months.

We would like to take a moment to acknowledge Angelique Davis and Melody Hampton for completing the CNA program. We also would like to announce that Rodney Allen and Deanne Thomas has been accepted into the program starting July 10, 2017. Let’s congratulate and wish them great success.

Remember, it is your right to choose your in-home medical care. Meritan's Home Health follows the direction of your doctor, to care for you while you recover from illness, injury, or surgery. We accept Medicare, VA and private pay. Meritan is a top 25% provider in the nation for quality and patient experience. We care about both the success of our patients and employees. 

 "Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine." -Chris Hadfield

Congratulations Deanne Thomas!

Congratulations Deanne Thomas!

Congratulations Rodney Allen!

Congratulations Rodney Allen!

Posted on June 30, 2017 and filed under Home Health.

Meet Mrs. Kathey


Have you met Clara Kathey? Mrs. Kathey is a 76 year old participant in our Title V, Senior Job Training and Employment Program. Meritan’s Title V program is about “combining community service and a paycheck until you find your next job.”

Meritan provides on-the-job training for unemployed and/or low-income for those individuals ages 55 and older. This program helps seniors who want to enter or re-enter the workforce but need more career training to better prepare them for the new work-world experience. Our Title V participants receive paid on-site job training at a public agency or a non-profit organization. Our Title V Coordinators help our participants find jobs after their job training is complete. Seniors can be enrolled into this program for a duration of four years. Mrs. Kathey is an outstanding Title V participant that makes an impact to majority of the seniors in the Memphis community.

Mrs. Kathey teaching a Title V Participant how to use WiFi.

Mrs. Kathey heard about Meritan’s Senior Job Training and Employment Program through a strange occurrence. She had been retired for a year and became restless. She received a phone call from Senior Services office in Washington. Mrs. Kathey then told the lady on the phone what she was interested in doing, which was getting back to work part-time. The lady on the phone from Washington then referred Meritan, Inc. to Mrs. Kathey.

She was first assigned to be a receptionist at a homeless shelter; however, 2 days before she began, Meritan offered another job training that appeared to be a better match for Mrs. Kathey. Mrs. Kathey became Title V’s  “Digital Trainer.” Her job training included training seniors around the city of Memphis on how to use modern technology.  Our Title V Coordinators have Mrs. Kathey an instructional book and suitcase, and from there it’s history.

Mrs. Kathey goes to several appointments in Senior Centers to teach other seniors how to best use technology. She loves teaching her iPad classes throughout all of the senior centers. She loves what she does because she teaches those who have a fear of technology. After feels accomplished after the seniors get acquainted with modern technology.

Mrs. Kathey would tell seniors that “The most that they {technology} do is what you feed into them.” She also uses an analogy that she created to help seniors understand the home button on the iPad with comparing the home button to Poplar Avenue. She explains that if you get lost on the iPad, remember to press the home button and get back on Poplar, so you can find your way home.

Currently, there is around 35 seniors on the waiting list. Each digital training course last about 2-4 hours depending on the client’s need. Mrs. Kathey stated, “It has been a joy. I feel good teaching them what I know. When they {seniors} feel good I feel good.”

Mrs. Kathey teaching a Title V participant how to navigate an Android tablet.
Teaching Digital Lessons with Quality and Compassion!

Why I foster...

Kerry Connors

Kerry Connors

Home. That’s really what we are talking about in foster parenting. A place to rest. A place of calm. Consistency. A place where you can know love. A place of safety and security.

Thinking about foster parenting is hard. It’s difficult to think about kids who are without these very basic things we take for granted. Why would you take on someone else’s problems? There are going to be all these things, all these appointments, all this everything.

But it’s not about any of that. It’s about real, actual children. This isn’t a hypothetical anymore. There are children, right here in our community who are in need. Their parents are not currently able or perhaps not even capable of taking care of them. Parents may need a hand to learn skills in parenting, managing their time, anger management, life skills like keeping a clean house, making sure there are groceries in the house, or managing their money. The foster care system provides the space and time for a parent to do the work they need to do, and a child to be cared for in a loving, supportive home.

Do you think “I’m sure there’s somewhere kids go in a situation like that?” Well guess what? There’s not. There’s no such thing as some nice big happy place where kids all get together in a big school type setting and have a wonderful caring older woman who lovingly tends to her charges. This is it, foster care is the system. Individuals, like you, are who make this work. Kids don’t need an institution, they need real people. An actual foster parent to open their home and their heart, to let them know that there are adults who will care. Who can provide. Who will be there. Who won’t let them go hungry. It’s you. You are the person who can fill in the piece missing in their hearts where they know that all these things are supposed to happen, but they haven’t experienced it yet. They know other kids who seem to have these things, but for some reason it hasn’t been true for them.

Hopefully, their parent or family member will receive the training and support that they need to be able and willing to parent. The goal is to keep families together. Your role as a foster is to help during this transitional time. To model appropriate behavior. Show the child that adults can be counted on. That you will make promises and keep them. Food will always be available. That education and working hard at school are of the highest priority and you will help them to pursue their best.

When you’ve done your job you’ve shared your heart. You have to give it freely, and you send a little piece of you away with your foster child when they return to their family. In the time they spend with you, you can create believers. Believers who know that they are safe, that they are loved, that home is a real concept. You can change something in a child who might have believed that they weren’t worth all the things they deserve, that maybe they were the reason things were unstable at home.

You can do this. It is scary to take the leap, but you won’t be alone. Your agency will be there to help. There will be appointments, but they are by providers who are part of your network of supporters who also want great things for your foster child. You may have extra meetings at school to set up accommodation for a child who might have fallen behind or need extra support. If you do this for them now, they can sustain these positive changes when they return home and will have an added safety net of professionals who care about them.

Be the one who notices and does what needs to be done. Make children believe in goodness. Build community. Be better and more than you thought you could be. The most simple things you provide are the things these children need to most. You can’t regret sharing your heart. You can make a home.

Posted on March 9, 2017 and filed under Foster Care.