We provide information regarding a number of topics, including but not limited to, the following:

  • legislative, community and systems advocacy
  • availability of support groups
  • Money Follows the Person and other community inclusion resources
  • disability sensitivity information and training
  • disability prevention information (e.g. traumatic brain injury)
  • accessibility (physical and attitudinal)

MERIL employees are available to provide information and education to enhance regional awareness of disabilities and disability-related issues to the following:

  • hospitals, health care providers and health fairs
  • schools and back-to-school fairs
  • human service organizations
  • service clubs and service organizations
  • churches
  • businesses



People First Self Advocacy Group

MERIL hosts the St. Joseph and Maryville chapters of the People First self-advocacy group for persons with a disability. We are a member of the State People First of Missouri that promotes equality for people with disabilities so they can live the life they want in the community.

Our local chapter:

  • Shares information from around the state
  • Provides training that will educate a person to become a stronger self-advocate
  • Participates in community projects
  • Pays dues to the statewide chapter
  • Communicates and respects the issues of all members
  • Empowers all people to understand their rights and responsibilities, speak up for themselves (self-advocacy), as well as advocate for one another (including advocacy at the systems level and within the community)

Our core values are:

  • All people can feel good about themselves and their abilities. (Pride)
  • All people have equal rights. (Equality)
  • All people deserve opportunities to live productive and happy lives. (Opportunity)
  • All people should have choices about their services/supports. (Power to Choose)
  • People with disabilities can be leaders for change. (Leadership)
  • People with disabilities can educate others about their ability and right to belong. (Educate)
  • All people are entitled to freedom. (Freedom)
  • All people have the right to be part of their communities. (Inclusive Communities)
  • All people deserve respect. (Respect)
  • All people deserve to live their own lives. (Self-determination)
  • All people should be responsible for their own actions. (Taking Responsibility)

If you take the first letter of each word in parenthesis you will see the core value is “People First.”

People First of St. Joseph meets the second Thursday of each month at 3:00 pm at MERIL in St. Joseph, 4420 S. 40th Street.

People First of Maryville meets the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm at MERIL in Maryville, 2416B South Main.

If you are interested in being a part of this group, either as a participant or to assist with the facilitation of the group, please contact us.