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Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Performing Arts, Performing Arts Centers

Mission: Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in the historic Merrimack Mill Village neighborhood of Huntsville, Alabama. Merrimack Hall is home to The Happy Headquarters, a visual and performing arts program for children, teens and adults with special needs. The Happy Headquarters has three distinct components: Happy HeARTs, a weekly after-school program of arts education that includes classes in dance, creative movement, choir, yoga, fitness, creative writing and multi-media visual arts; Happy Days, a day program for adults 18+ that is focused on arts-related activities, music therapy and life skills; and Happy Camp, a series of half-day summer camps. Through these three programs, Merrimack Hall is serving several hundred children and adults with special needs with diagnoses such as Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and a host of other conditions. We believe everyone deserves the right to participate in the arts regardless of their disabilities. To register your student or to volunteer for any of the programs at The Happy Headquarters, call (256) 534-6455 or e-mail info@merrimackhall.com.

Results: The Happy Headquarters at Merrimack Hall started out as one dance class with 10 students. Today, we are serving hundreds of participants! We have expanded our programs from one dance class to 5 dance classes, an acting class, a yoga class, a travel performing group, an exercise class, a visual arts program, a tumbling class, a singing class, and our summer camps! Through our volunteers and financial assistance from our donors, we have exceeded our initial vision. With their help, we have been able to think outside the box and create more ways to make Huntsville a more inclusive community. We hope to continue to provide these services that are regularly offered to those with disabilities.

Target demographics: children, teens, and adults with special needs.

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 500 participants and families of individuals with special needs

Geographic areas served: Huntsville, Alabama

Programs: Performing Arts Education

Community Stories

13 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Merrimack is a place for all to feel good in their own skin, where it is OK to be you!! With the PURE JOY of music, dance, and the arts.. all of the participants spread that JOY, which is contagious!!! Our whole family look forward to the next event and have already purchased 5 tickets!!!

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our Daughter Ramsey has only just begun her Happy Days experience at Merrimack Hall. She is thrilled with the friends she has made. She is 27 and loves people, but falls through the crack when it comes to not being considered a youth at Church and not really an Adult either, this is a place where she can just be herself and enjoy time with others without the stress of trying to be something she is not.. We had a family date night out to the last concert and it was the best time EVER!! The Students are a very talented and diverse group!!

Donor

Rating: 5

They put on the best show. This place brings smiles to both students and patrons! #community # Merrimackhall

1 Andi W.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

In 2008, programs for adults with cognitive disabilities took a drastic turn. Due to funding cuts, 305 8th Street had 10 residents that went from 5 days of daycare support to less than 0-3 days a week. Merrimack Hall Happy Days was an answer to our prayers. Residents love the arts education Merrimack provides. Their inclusive love for all people is evident. They treat all of their participants with respect and clap for any and all accomplishments. Great program. Great people.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Erin has been attending Merrimack classes for about 5 years; however long before that she has been interested in singing, acting, and dancing as she saw kids performing in school plays, chorus and concerts. We were very fortunate that she had the opportunity to be part of the Middle School Band for a few years, playing the snare drum and the glockenspiel bells. She enjoyed the music and being part of a musical production, and she was looking forward to continue her artistic education in High School. Although she did enroll in as many classes as she could for that purpose, she did not have the opportunity to perform on stage.
When I found out about the dance class at Merrimack for younger kids, immediately I talked with Ms. Hayley Henderson and invited her to a meeting with a group of mothers that had older kids with special needs attending High school, and they would be interested in the arts. She was very responsive and supportive, she went to that meeting and talked about the program Merrimack had started…….. Since 2013 my daughter had participated at Merrimack in plays and concerts …… PERFORMING ON STAGE!! ……… Erin has been not only fulfilling her artistic aspirations at Merrimack, but had met more friends and strengthen former friendships too. She is looking forward to continue that direction.
As Ms. Henderson, all teachers, staff, and volunteers at Merrimack are very enthusiastic, responsive, and supportive. Thank you to all for making Merrimack the creative, inspiring, and inclusive place!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Carolyn has autism. She is very outgoing and social. Merrimack Hall is an amazing place that provides an opportunity for her and her many comrades with challenges to sing, dance, learn and mainly just have fun. The staff truly brings out the best in all of the participants. They blossom because they are comfortable and not only accepted but appreciated. Carolyn can't wait to go to her Merrimack programs to dance, sing, and play. And all the time she is learning valuable life skills and being with friends.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter is blind and mentally challenged. She is 43 years old and has attended Merrimack Hall in Huntsville, AL for about 6 years. She looks forward to her days at MH because she sees her friends, shares stories, sings, plays music on her saxophone with the music teacher, Antony, "the best music teacher ever!" she says. If you really want to know what MH is like, attend one of their concerts, which they put on 2-3 times a year. There you will see how much the participants love what they do and also see how they interact with the teachers and staff. That says more than what I can tell you. I bust with pride for ALL the "kids" at every concert. It is clear to me the staff would do anything to assure each participant is happy and having the best experience they can. The staff MAKES MH! They are the BEST!!!!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son, Adonis, has been a participant at Merrimack Hall for four years now. Merrimack has given him the opportunity to achieve his dreams, build confidence, and make friends. Merrimack Hall is more than a place; it’s people, giving, sharing, loving, friendship, community....... it’s a concept that can not be defined with just words.

3 Maggie Mae L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Family !! That is what Merrimack Hall means to us! Robbie attends Merrimack Hall a couple times a week. The real friendships that have developed will be lifelong. Regardless of the disability everyone is treated “Just Like Me”. Everyone is loved, everyone is free to be themself. When I knew Merrimack Hall was the real thing, was how Robbie behaved and reacted about Merrimack Hall away from there. He would spend time at home, working on art projects about MH. He would spend time writing down ideas and thoughts of things to do at MH. He wanted to invite his new friends over and hang out with them. When people bring up MH to him, he glows, he smiles, the love just flows out of him for this place called Merrimcack Hall and the people there. Merrimack Hall is part of our Family!

4 Steve L.3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Bill has been part of the Merrimack family for 7 years and his life is amazingly blessed because of this great place. The days of the week he attends are his favorite days. As soon as he walks in we hear "Bill" and he gets a big group hug from everyone. The other students have become his best friends and the hub of his social life. They hang out together, go to movies together, attend birthdays together, go to holiday parties together, they are each others best friends. The staff are AMAZING, they love each of the students like they are family. They have a passion for what they do and it shows.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer in an after school art class at Merrimack and have been a summer camp counselor for 3 years. Even though I am only a high schooler, I still feel like I am able to make a difference here. More than that, I have made friends and found purpose. My time at Merrimack has taught me my passion for working with people with disabilities and I plan to pursue a degree in speech therapy. This community of people has showed me how to be confident, how to love, and how to enjoy the little things in life. I would recommend this place to any high schooler that needs volunteer hours or who just wants to get involved. Merrimack is more than just a building, it is a family!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a young professional in the Huntsville Community, I have donated my time to volunteering with the individuals at Merrimack Hall each week. These individuals have a variety of special needs and are often excluded for activities in their community based on their physical or mental limitations. Merrimack Hall gives these individuals a place to express themselves and progress their skills, whatever level they may be, while spending time with their peers. I know that my fiends at Merrimack Hall benefit from me donating my time. However, I think I benefit from our friendship even more. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for ANYONE to get involved. Special need or not. :)

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering at Merrimack Hall for 4 years now. I volunteer in the adult day program, I have met some of my closest friends in this program. They brighten up my day more than they know! I highly recommend volunteering for a class or show at Merrimack Hall. At Merrimack Hall no one seeings people's differences, they only see friendship and ability.