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FaithGiving Back ColumnHealth & WellnessMemphisNonprofit

Meritan Adapts to Virtual Model Amid Pandemic; Continues Critical Health and Social Services

Established 1961, Meritan, Inc. is nonprofit providing critical health and social services for vulnerable populations in the Mid-South. Overall, the organization works in four states and provides support to people of all ages and all abilities. Their mission is to improve well-being and promote independence throughout life’s stages with quality and compassion; and they fulfill that mission through a comprehensive portfolio of programs. Those programs include in-home personal care, home health, job-training for seniors, specialized foster care, and family-model residential services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Meritan is also a member of the Memphis area Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse (CREA) and a Care Coordination Hub for the United Way of the Mid-South’s Driving the Dream program, working to help people out of poverty in Shelby County.

Meritan relies on funding from generous donors, grants, corporate sponsorships and more to provide its services, and the organization works collaboratively with many agencies, foundations, and organizations in the community to provide their clients with the services they need. For example, in order to complete Meritan’s senior employment program, participants ages 55 and older must receive 20 hours a week of onsite job training from one of the organization’s more than 40 different nonprofit or government partners in Shelby, Tipton, or Fayette County. “It’s great because our folks are getting the training and then the other nonprofits are in essence getting free help” remarks Meritan President and CEO, Melanie Keller. In regard to elder abuse prevention, Meritan partners with the Sheriff’s Department, Memphis Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, MIFA and Family Safety Center to ensure senior safety.

In light of the pandemic, Meritan has had to adjust their programming in a multitude of ways. Along with a newly established staff-led COVID committee that meets on a weekly basis to continually assess challenges and opportunities for improvement with regards to protocols and the health and safety of clients and staff, the organization is partnering with Church Health and the Health Department to provide COVID-19 testing in locations throughout the city. While the organization’s direct care services have continued, others such as foster care visitations and senior employment training, have had to adapt to a virtual model to limit potential virus exposure. Keeping these precautions top of mind, Meritan is committed to doing whatever it takes to continue fulfilling its mission while protecting clients and staff. “I have the best staff in the world, and they’ve all stepped up. They have all been ready to suit up and do what they need to do. I can’t say enough about how awesome they are” comments Keller.

Pandemic or not, the need for Meritan in the Mid-South continues and so does the necessity for funding, awareness and support from the community. Currently, Meritan is seeking foster parents, family model caregivers, as well as employers interested in hiring their senior job participants. In terms of job openings, Meritan is in the process of hiring home care specialists and nurses. Although Meritan’s annual bike tour had to be canceled this year, make sure to mark your calendar for their Red Carpet Gala on November 21st held at Lichterman Nature Center. To learn more visit www.meritan.org, email at care@meritan.org or reach out by phone at 901-766-0600.

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