Tag Archives: Merrymakers

Merrymakers

August 15, 2018 by

Mission Statement

Merrymakers improves the quality of life for seniors by encouraging active participation, increasing social interaction, and sparking memories through professional musical entertainment.

Wish List

  • Monetary donations of any size
  • Volunteers to serve on event planning committees

Upcoming Events

  • Toast to Stephanie and Jack Koraleski
    Nov. 1, 2018
  • Omaha Gives!
    May 22, 2019
  • GIVE65.org
    July 9-11, 2019

Background

The Merrymakers Association consists of 20 professional musicians who serve more than 50,000 seniors each year, traveling to 142 nursing homes, hospice houses, veteran homes and other senior communities each month.

Merrymakers: 

  • play music geared to the seniors’ age group, sparking fond memories
  • create a comfortable environment where expression is encouraged
  • provide an opportunity for socialization
  • offer a genuine personal connection

Executive Director Sandy Lemke is supported by an enthusiastic and dedicated board of directors, along with Friends Group president Joy Moore.

Brag Lines

Merrymakers consistently achieves a high level of success with its programs. Its results are quantified through annual surveys of partner facility activity directors. These surveys show that Merrymakers music:

  • improves quality of life,
  • decreases feelings of anxiety and/or depression,
  • decreases feelings of loneliness and/or isolation,
  • gives an overall increase of enjoyment and happiness,
  • gives a chance to express feelings, and
  • gives an opportunity for social engagement.

Pay it Forward

Individuals can serve on event planning committees throughout the year or make monetary donations of any size. A contribution to Merrymakers is a meaningful way to support culture and socialization for senior citizens. Merrymakers has a waiting list of facilities who would like to receive our services. Merrymakers can’t achieve its mission without the support of donors and volunteers. Please contact them to find out more information about ways to help!

Merrymakers Association

12020 Shamrock Plaza Suite 200
Omaha, NE 68154
402-697-0205
merrymakers.org


The Big Give was published in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

2017 November/December Giving Calendar

October 29, 2017 by
Photography by contributed

Featured Event

Nov. 19-25 (hours vary)
Feztival of Trees
Tangier Shrine Center
tangiershrine.wildapricot.org
View trees decorated by local businesses, organizations, and affiliates of the Tangier Shrine. Purchase raffle tickets for chances to win prizes and a free tree (each tree features prizes valued at $500 or more). Admission is $2 per person; children under 12 enter free with adult.

 


2017 November/December Giving Calendar

Nov. 1 (starts at 8:30 a.m.)
2017 Nonprofit Summit of the Midlands
Benefiting: Nonprofit Association of the Midlands
Location: La Vista Conference Center
nonprofitam.org

Christmas Caravan

Nov. 2 (10 a.m.-8 p.m.)
Christmas Caravan 2017
Benefiting: Assistance League of Omaha
Location: Various homes in Omaha
alomaha.org

Milagro Dinner

Nov. 2 (5:30-9 p.m.)
Milagro Dinner
Benefiting: OneWorld Community Health Centers
Location: Hilton Omaha
oneworldomaha.org

Nov. 3 (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Breaking the Cycle Luncheon
Benefiting: Youth Emergency Services
Location: Scott Conference Center
yesomaha.org

Rally for Kids

Nov. 3 (6-9:30 p.m.)
Rally for Kids
Benefiting: Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska Inc.
Location: Hilton Omaha
lfsneb.org

Let’s Grow Here Gala

Nov. 3 (6-8:30 p.m.)
Let’s Grow Here Gala
Benefiting: Big Muddy Urban Farm
Location: University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Sorrell Center
bigmuddyurbanfarm.org

Nov. 3 (5:30-8 p.m.)
An Evening of Appreciation
Benefiting: American Red Cross
Location: Regency Lodge
redcross.org

Roncalli Catholic High Tea

Nov. 5 (11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.)
Roncalli Catholic High Tea
Benefiting: Roncalli Catholic High School
Location: Roncalli Catholic High School
roncallicatholic.org

Nov. 5 (noon-4 p.m.)
Honey Sunday
Benefiting: Ollie Webb Center Inc.
Location: Throughout Omaha
olliewebbinc.org

Nurse of the Year Awards

Nov. 9 (5-9 p.m.)
Nurse of the Year Awards
Benefiting: March of Dimes
Location: Hilton Omaha
nurseoftheyear.marchofdimes.org

Nov. 9 (6-9 p.m.)
Toast to Hal Daub
Benefiting: Merrymakers
Location: Omaha Design Center
merrymakers.org

Historic Homes Tour

Nov. 10-12 (times vary)
Historic Home Tour & Boutique
Benefiting: Joslyn Castle
Location: Various locations
joslyncastle.com

Empowerment 4 Life

Nov. 10 (9 a.m.-2 p.m.)
Empowerment 4 Life Youth Leadership Conference
Benefiting: Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition
Location: NorthStar
somsne.com

Nov. 11 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Hoops 4 Life 3 on 3 Youth Basketball Tournament
Benefiting: Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition
Location: NorthStar
somsne.com

Big Red Block Party

Nov. 11 (time TBD)
Big Red Block Party
Benefiting: Junior League of Omaha
Location: Scott Conference Center
jlomaha.org

Nov. 11 (3-5 p.m.)
Honors Orchestra Concert
Benefiting: Omaha Area Youth Orchestras
Location: OPS TAC Auditorium
oayo.org

Nov. 11 (6-10 p.m.)
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Gala
Benefiting: Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Foundation
Location: CenturyLink Center
childrensfoundationomaha.org

Nov. 11 (7-11:30 p.m.)
Rock to Raise
Benefiting: The John Atkinson Lung Cancer Foundation
Location: St. Nicholas Community Center
johnatkinsonfoundation.org

Nov. 13-Dec. 11
Empowering Women from Surviving to Thriving
Benefiting: Open Door Mission
Location: Open Door Mission
opendoormission.org

Nov. 14 (Noon-1 p.m.)
Big Brothers Big Sister of the Midlands Matchmaker Luncheon
Benefiting: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands
Location: UNO Thompson Alumni Center
bbbsomaha.org

Project Harmony Annual Meeting and Luncheon

Nov. 15 (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Annual Meeting & Luncheon
Benefiting: Project Harmony
Location: Happy Hollow Club
projectharmony.com

Nov. 16 (5 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Hope for Hungry Radiothon
Benefiting: Open Door Mission
Location: KFAB 1110 AM
opendoormission.org

Nov. 16 (5:30-9:30 p.m.)
Stock Market Championship 2017
Benefiting: Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands
Location: Hilton Omaha
http://bgcomaha.org

Nov. 16 (6-9 p.m.)
Salute to Families
Benefiting: Heartland Family Service
Location: Happy Hollow Club
http://heartlandfamilyservice.org

Sentimental Journey

Nov. 17 (6-9 p.m.)
Sentimental Journey
Benefiting: The Durham Museum
Location: The Durham Museum
durhammuseum.org

Nov. 18 (1-3 p.m.)
Meet & Greet at the Green Spot
Benefiting: Pug Partners of Nebraska
Location: The Green Spot
pugpartners.com

Nov. 23 (8:45-11 a.m.)
2017 Turkey Trot
Benefiting: Make-a-Wish Nebraska
Location: Lewis & Clark Landing
nebraska.wish.org

Joslyn Castle Turkey Trot

Nov. 23 (9 a.m.)
Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk
Benefiting: Joslyn Castle
Location: Turner Park in Midtown Crossing
joslyncastle.com

Nutcracker Gala

Dec. 1 (6-9 p.m.)
Nutcracker Gala
Benefiting: Ballet Nebraska
Location: Orpheum Theater
balletnebraska.org

Dec. 4-8
Project Elf Holiday Gift Drive
Benefiting: Nebraska Children’s Home Society
Location: Nebraska Children’s Home Society
nchs.org

Reel to Real Sustainability Film Festival

Dec. 6 (5:30-9 p.m.)
Reel To Real Sustainability Film Festival
Benefiting: The Green Omaha Coalition
Location: Aksarben Cinema
greenomaha.org

Christmas in Our Hearts Concert

Dec. 7 (1:30-3 p.m.)
Christmas in our Hearts Concert
Benefiting: Community 360°
Location: Kroc Center
community-360.org

Nebraska Jingle Bell Run

Dec. 9 (7:30 a.m.-noon)
2017 Nebraska Jingle Bell Run
Benefiting: Arthritis Foundation Nebraska
Location: Strategic Air and Space Museum and Mahoney State Park
jbr.org

Dec. 10 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Ruth Solokof Christmas Party
Benefiting: Nebraska Foundation for Visually Impaired Children
Location: Westroads Mall
nfvic.org

Dec. 27 (6-11 p.m.)
Omaha Symphony Debutante Ball
Benefiting: Omaha Symphony
Location: Embassy Suites La Vista
omahasymphony.org

This event calendar was printed in the November/December edition of Omaha Magazine.

Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Merrymakers Association

October 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For many elderly citizens, living in a retirement community or a nursing home can be a lonely existence, what with being cut off from family, old friends, and—what sometimes seems like—the outside world. Several factors can keep someone from being able to leave the senior facility, whether it be physical immobility or mental functioning, which can often inhibit residents from being able to enjoy the leisure activities they used to—going to movies, visiting with people in the community, or watching musical performances. But one nonprofit organization is dedicated to brightening the lives of those very seniors by bringing the music and laughter to them.

Merrymakers Association began serving seniors in nursing homes in 1986 after a local entertainer met with a group of Omaha businessmen to form the organization. Slowly but surely, this effort to provide the elderly with live, musical entertainment grew. Today, Merrymakers serves more than 40,000 seniors with free, musical entertainment annually. In 2012 alone, more than 100 facilities received Merrymakers musical programming.

Most senior facilities have a limited budget for activities for their residents; the cost of providing entertainment can use up most of the activities budget. In addition, many facilities have seen a dramatic decline in the number of musicians available to provide free or affordable entertainment for their residents. This is why Merrymakers never charges for their performances, and instead relies on donations from the community.

Merrymakers is all about fun in Executive Director Tricia Cottrell’s view. “While there are many wonderful and caring individuals and groups, who are willing to give their time and talent at senior-serving entities by volunteering to perform, we ‘take it up a notch’ by making sure our entertainers are trained professionals, who are in demand in the community at large,” she says. “We make a specific effort to provide the seniors with the music of their youth—to bring back the memories of that first dance at their wedding, the song they heard at their senior prom, or the one they sang to the children.”

GALA Merry Makers

Cottrell has been leading Merrymakers for the last two-and-a-half years. After a long career in business, she made the switch to nonprofit work. “I am a musician myself—third generation of the now five generation of musicians in my family…I love working with creative people and have a strong interest in seniors and their well-being. [Merrymakers] was a perfect fit for me…I have jokingly said I intend to still be leading the organization when I am living at one of the facilities we service.”

Cottrell’s very first “mission moment” occurred when a resident’s daughter thanked Merrymakers for the performance of WWII songs. “Her mother had severe dementia and had become disconnected from much of what was happening, but she sang all the words to the songs of her youth. Our performance allowed this daughter to have her mother present in the moment for the entire hour, and that is a gift I would gladly give anyone.”

Like many in Merrymakers, Cottrell knows that music is often used with the elderly to increase levels of physical, emotional, and mental functioning. The sensory and intellectual stimulation of the music can help maintain or improve a person’s quality of life.

“How a community treats their elders is an indicator of the health of the community as a whole. If we warehouse people and treat them as useless, we make a statement about what we value,” asserts Cottrell. “While the arts may not be as critical as health care, housing, or food, we truly believe that we provide sustenance for the mind and for the soul of these seniors and that their feelings of joy are just as critical to their well-being.”

Merrymakers is home to 14 professional entertainers of all ages and backgrounds with their own unique styles of performance. Two such performers include vocalist and guitarist Kim Eames and vocalist Physha.

Kim Eames has been with Merrymakers for eight years now. She got involved after another entertainer, Joe Taylor (a.k.a. “Mr. Memories”), who has been there for 18 years, had her audition. “I was the only female at that time,” she says. “They had four men, and they were looking to gather up some female entertainers.”

“How a community treats their elders is an indicator of the health of the community as a whole. If we warehouse people and treat them as useless, we make a statement about what we value.” – Tricia Cottrell, executive director with Merrymakers Association

Born and raised in Omaha, Eames has been performing for 40 years. After getting her first guitar at age 11, Eames threw herself into the musical world, playing weddings, private parties, lounges, and even heading out on the road. Since then, she has gained a performance reputation in Omaha after having performed at La Festa Italiana, Taste of Omaha, and other shows for businesses and corporations.

Eames likes to play different kinds of music. “My music usually spans from the 1920s to early 2000s, which allows me to play so many different things. I don’t call myself a country singer or a ‘50s singer. I try not to pinpoint any genre.” Eames says that because an audience is always filled with different people, a performer can’t play one kind of music because it will only hit a few people.

During her time with Merrymakers, Eames has heard her fair share of good memories from audience members. “I love hearing about their lives—what they did and who they are. A guy I met played in the brass section for Dinah Shore, and a woman I met danced for USO shows and knew Bob Hope personally…I love these unique stories. It’s amazing what you hear. I always come home with a lot more than I left with.”

Like Eames, vocalist Physha loves hearing stories and getting to meet the residents in her audience. “[A few months ago], I sang for a lady named Mary, who was 105 years old,” she says. “She said to me that those were tunes she hadn’t gotten to hear in some time. To see someone who has lived their life—who has paved the way from their time—respond like that…just the effect of music bringing them back to that time is an indescribable feeling.”

Physha has been with Merrymakers for a little more than two years. “I started a business called Classic Impressions Musical Entertainment a couple years ago, and I had been going to retirement communities to perform. Tricia Cottrell happened to be visiting the retirement community where I was performing one night. She saw my show and asked if I’d want to be a Merrymaker.”

GALA Merry Makers

Although she has only been performing for two years with Merrymakers, Physha is no stranger to the entertainment industry. After having been a model from a young age, she performed in musicals and with bands all over the Midwest. “I was born and raised here, so I’ve always come back to my stomping grounds.”

Physha likes to engage her audience during her performances. “I make sure they’re having a good time with me, so I’ll bring hand instruments like tambourines to get them involved.” As for her music, she generally performs songs from any genre between the 1920s and current time, but she bases her performances around her audience. “Ninety-five percent of my audience is in retirement communities, so my music is really about what they want to hear. I love seeing them smile as they tap their toes and sing along. To see that in the height of Alzheimer’s and dementia is truly amazing.”

Physha believes music is a universal language that brings people together and always has. “Everyone can relate to music,” she adds.

Merrymakers hold performances year-round at many different locations. They will also hold their Annual Roast on Nov. 8 with Sid Dinsdale, President and Chairman of Pinnacle Bank, as the guest of honor. Some of the past honorees at the Annual Roast include Governor Ben Nelson, Mayor Mike Fahey, Mary Maxwell, Bruce Lauritzen, and Walter Scott. The event will take place at Embassy Suites La Vista from 6-9pm, and all proceeds will go to help Merrymakers Association’s mission.

For more information, visit merrymakers.org or call 402-697-0205.