Together with Technology: Helping People with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Maintain Community


  • Sarah Threnhauser Merakey
  • Janet Harvilla Merakey
  • Robyn Cheskiewicz


Disability, Virtual, technology engagement


Cooking sessions, gardening, arts and crafts, music lessons—all activities the Merakey team provides through their Day Programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Merakey’s Day Program includes activities, classes, and supports designed to build and maintain skills that promote positive social behavior and interpersonal competence and to increase independence and personal choice. These services provide a sense of belonging and connection for participants and give people the freedom to be themselves with their friends. But when the world stopped a year ago with the pandemic, the Merakey team knew they needed a new plan. The Virtual Day Program enabled Merakey to continue to provide benefits and supports to the people they serve in a new way.

Author Biographies

Janet Harvilla, Merakey

Janet Harvilla has more than 35 years of experience at Merakey.  Currently, Jan is the Program Director for Day Services, supporting more than 150 individuals.  Over the years, Jan has filled various positions including live-in House Manager, Program Specialist and Administration. Jan participates in many committees including the Merakey Career Enhancement Program, Human Rights Co-Chairman, Communication and Technology, Alzheimer’s/Dementia, Older Adult Advisory and several day program workgroups. During her time at Merakey, Jan has provided guidance to many Direct Support Professionals and various other positions to support initiatives and opportunities as we work to support individuals with IDD.

Robyn Cheskiewicz

Robyn Cheskiewicz has been a member of the Merakey team since 1997.  She served as a Behavior Specialist Consultant for 17 years and has worked as a Regional Clinical Director for the past 6 years supporting our teams across the southern and western parts of Pennsylvania.   




How to Cite

Threnhauser, S., Harvilla, J., & Cheskiewicz, R. (2021). Together with Technology: Helping People with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Maintain Community . Social Innovations Journal, 6. Retrieved from



Human Services: Population Health