Meaningful
Experiences &
Relationships through
Community
Inclusion

Founded in 1955, MERCI stands as a beacon of lifelong support for adults with developmental disabilities. Operating across 19 cities in Los Angeles County, we offer home and community-based services through our residential homes and three specialized programs. Our mission, Meaningful Experiences & Relationships through Community Inclusion, ensures neurodiverse individuals in East Los Angeles receive personalized care and active community engagement, fostering a quality life of their own choosing.

Who We are?

Initially established to cater to children, MERCI’s mission evolved as many of these individuals continued to be part of the organization into adulthood. The dedication to serving adults with developmental disabilities has been a constant in MERCI’s journey.

Despite challenges in funding, MERCI stands out as one of the few organizations that persistently offers services to individuals with developmental disabilities as they age. The organization remains unwavering in its commitment to ensuring that this population experiences a quality life of their own choosing. 

Mission

MERCI's mission, encapsulated in its acronym Meaningful Experiences & Relationships through Community Inclusion, reflects a dedication to serving neurodiverse individuals of all abilities.

History

Founded in 1955 by parents and service clubs, MERCI originated to address the educational needs of developmentally disabled children. Celebrating its’ 69th years of history, the organization adapts to serve aging individuals, fostering a diverse and inclusive community.

Currently extending its reach to 19 cities across Los Angeles County, MERCI collaborates with various regional centers, including East Los Angeles Regional Center, San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center, Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center, and South Los Angeles Regional Center.

Services We Provide

MERCI offers comprehensive support for adults with developmental disabilities at various levels through residential services and three distinct programs tailored to individual abilities.

Integrated Community-Based Supports (ICBS)

Immerse yourself in the transformative journey of MERCI’s Integrated Community-Based Support Programs, where individual interests and strengths become the guiding forces. 

PASS Program

Discover personalized care and empowerment at MERCI’s on-site school in Monterey Park. The PASS Program offers tailored support from 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday, with extended services from 7:00 am- 9:00 am and 3:00 pm- 6:00 pm. Benefit from individualized plans, personal choice, and a 1:3 instructor to participant ratio for enrichment and community engagement.

Discovery Program

Experience personalized support and engagement with MERCI’s Discovery Program, available Monday through Friday. Specifically designed for adults with developmental disabilities who prefer or require a 1:1 instructor to participant ratio, this unique program brings enrichment directly to our participants’ homes. 

Residential Services

Experience comfort in MERCI’s two residential homes in Monterey Park, each accommodating up to six residents, each with their own rooms. Round-the-clock can be provided as needed, and direct care staff are trained to foster individuality and quality living.

Testimonials

Carlos Rodriguez

I’ve been following MERCI’s journey for years, and their website continues to impress. The transparency in sharing project details and financial reports reassures me that my support is going to the right place. MERCI is a beacon of hope in the world of philanthropy.

Emily Foster

MERCI’s website is a treasure trove of information on how they’re changing lives. The stories of resilience and transformation showcased on the site are incredibly touching. Navigating through the site was a joy, and I’m proud to be associated with an organization that truly cares.

James Walker

I discovered MERCI through a friend’s recommendation, and I’m grateful for the introduction. The website’s clean layout and easy navigation make it a pleasure to explore. MERCI’s commitment to making a positive impact is evident in every section. It’s more than a website; it’s a portal to a world of compassion and change.

Discovery

Experience personalized support and engagement with MERCI’s Discovery Program, available Monday through Friday. Specifically designed for adults with developmental disabilities who prefer or require a 1:1 instructor to participant ratio, this unique program brings enrichment directly to our participants’ homes.

Ways to Give

At MERCI, there are diverse ways for you to contribute and make a positive impact on the lives of our participants and residents. While a substantial portion of our funding comes from Regional Centers, additional support from our dedicated MERCI supporters is crucial for maintaining and improving our services. Here are various avenues through which you can give:

Financial Contributions

Consider making a one-time or recurring donation to support ongoing staff training, program materials, and the evolving needs of our aging population. Your financial support ensures that our participants and residents continue to receive the care they deserve. Contributions to MERCI are tax-deductible, as we operate as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Volunteer Opportunities

Your time and skills are invaluable. We welcome volunteers who can assist with various aspects, including managing our social media presence or contributing to the beautification and maintenance of our homes and buildings. Your involvement makes a tangible difference in the lives of those we serve.

In-Kind Donations

Your generosity extends to in-kind donations. Items such as iPads, laptops, monitors, kitchen and diningware, and art and crafts materials directly benefit our community. Additionally, we are in need of two large vans to facilitate transportation to and from our campus and community events.

Corporate Sponsorships

Corporate partnerships play a vital role in sustaining our mission. If your company is passionate about making a positive impact in the community, consider a corporate sponsorship with MERCI. This collaborative effort helps us continue providing essential services to our participants and residents.

Corporate Sponsorships

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Volunteer Opportunities

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In-Kind Donations

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Christina Cisneros

  • Angela Pao-Johnson has been a dedicated healthcare professional serving individuals with developmental disabilities for 20 years. She has worked in and alongside many different systems including regional centers, health care insurance companies, and school districts.
  • In her last role, Angela was the founderand Chief Executive Officer of Autism Learning Collaborative, overseeing multi-state expansion and team growth from 13 to 130 employees in 2 years.
  • Angela holds a Bachelor’sdegree in Psychology from the University of California-San Diego and a Master’s degree from Pepperdine University. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, a Project Management Professional, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
  • In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two young children and a house full of critters.

Bobbi Bruesch

  • Angela Pao-Johnson has been a dedicated healthcare professional serving individuals with developmental disabilities for 20 years. She has worked in and alongside many different systems including regional centers, health care insurance companies, and school districts.
  • In her last role, Angela was the founderand Chief Executive Officer of Autism Learning Collaborative, overseeing multi-state expansion and team growth from 13 to 130 employees in 2 years.
  • Angela holds a Bachelor’sdegree in Psychology from the University of California-San Diego and a Master’s degree from Pepperdine University. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, a Project Management Professional, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
  • In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two young children and a house full of critters.

Brittany Wolfson

  • Brittany Wolfson is a versatile professional with over 20 years of dedicated service championing world-class, person-centered services and inclusion. Holding roles such as Behavior Analyst, Clinical Director, HR Director, and Chief People Officer, she brings a wealth of experience from various, mission-driven companies to our board. Brittany earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley and holds a Master of Science degrees from Northeastern University in Applied Behavior Analysis and Case Western University in Positive
  • Organizational Development. Her clinical expertise, coupled with a rich HR background, showcases a commitment to quality care, stewardship, and organizational development. As our newest board member, she plays a role in shaping our strategic direction, ensuring initiatives align with clinical excellence, effective human capital management, and a profound commitment to serving the unique needs of individuals at MERCI with dignity and personal choice.

Rene Araiza

  • ReneAraiza, MERCI’s board treasure is currently retired with 39 years of experience in the insurance industry and also retired from United States Marine Corps Reserve. Rene also volunteers with the Marine Corps League in West Covina. Rene and his family have a long history with MERCI which goes back 50 years and has two brothers that currently attend MERCI. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge in insurance, leadership and fundraising experience.
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  • In her last role, Angela was the founderand Chief Executive Officer of Autism Learning Collaborative, overseeing multi-state expansion and team growth from 13 to 130 employees in 2 years.
  • Angela holds a Bachelor’sdegree in Psychology from the University of California-San Diego and a Master’s degree from Pepperdine University. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, a Project Management Professional, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
  • In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two young children and a house full of critters.

April Dominguez

  • April Dominguez serves as an Operations Supervisor at Flowserve Corporation, bringing valuable operational expertise to the role. A Penn State University graduate, her dedication to MERCI stems from her brother’s 25-year attendance, inspiring her to contribute as a board member. April combines her professional acumen with a personal commitment to enhance MERCI’s mission.
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  • In her last role, Angela was the founderand Chief Executive Officer of Autism Learning Collaborative, overseeing multi-state expansion and team growth from 13 to 130 employees in 2 years.
  • Angela holds a Bachelor’sdegree in Psychology from the University of California-San Diego and a Master’s degree from Pepperdine University. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, a Project Management Professional, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
  • In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two young children and a house full of critters.

Daisy Paneda, PASS Program Assistant

  • Daisy Paneda is a recent graduate from California State University, Monterey Bay. She received her Bachelor’s degreein Collaborative Health and Human Services with a concentration in Social Work. She hopes to continue her educational journey to receive her master’s degree in social work. She has just begun her professional healthcare career. 
Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast
Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast
Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast
  • Although Daisy has been a part of the MERCI team for a short period, she continues to gain knowledge and experience by serving those with developmental disabilities. She strives to be a successful professional and make an impact on individuals’ lives. She enjoys exploring the world by traveling with her family and going to music festivals in her free time.

Celeste Rodriquez, Administrative Services Coordinator

  • Celeste Rodriguez is a dedicated advocate with four yearsof experience working to uplift marginalized communities. She is an alumna of California State University at Los Angeles, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a specialized focus on inequalities and diversity within communities. Whether it’s advocating for equal opportunities, challenging systemic barriers, or fostering inclusivity, she has consistently been at the forefront of positive change.
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  • In her free time, you can find her running around the park with her beloved dog Auggie or immersed in a book with a coffee in hand.

Marisol Alvarez, Residential Healthcare Coordinator

Karen Gazon-Marquez, Residential Administrator

  • Karen is driven by a profound passion for aiding individuals with intellectual disabilities and special needs. Previously serving as a paraeducator at South El Monte High School, she brings extensive experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum.
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  • As the Residential Administratorfor MERCI, Karen’s dedication underscores her commitment to empowering individuals in achieving their goals and dreams. Her role reflects a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those she supports.
  • Outside of her professional commitments, Karen cherishes quality time with her daughter, often spent hiking and enjoying the beach.
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Alex Stott, Residential Administrator

  • For the last 25 years, Alexander Stott has been a dedicated professional serving individuals with developmental disabilities in various roles, including residential administrator, QIDP, and day program instructor. He has worked at different non-profit agencies (MERCI, UCP/Momentum, Easter Seals), and served as a consultant for privately-owned residential facilities.
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  • Alexander holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of California-Santa Barbara and a Master’s degree in Organization Leadership and Management from Pacific Oaks College. He also holds his DSP I and II certificates and is a certified CPR instructor. Outside of work, Alexander enjoys spending time with his daughter, hiking, kayaking, playing music, and tending to his cats.
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• Reyna Pena, Program Manager for ICBS

Christian Trasvina, Program Manager for Discovery

  • Christian has been serving individuals with disabilities for over 20 years. He has worked with several organizations throughout his career. With a diverse background in fine art, illustration, and music, Christian has used his talents and creativity to provide fun and engaging experiences for the people he has served.
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  • Spearheading the DISCOVERY Program at MERCI, Christian applies his knowledge and experience in providing a creative dynamic to better help his staff provide fulfilling and Person-Centered support for MERCI’s participants. In his spare time, Christian is a freelance graphic designerand illustrator, loves to go on beach outing adventures or trying new restaurants with his daughter, and enjoys making art and music for fun.
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Christina Salazar, Program Manager for PASS

  • Christina’s impressive journey with MERCI began in 2014, marking over 17 yearsin the Human Services field for the Developmentally Disabled. She takes pride in closely collaborating with families to ensure each participant’s success. Christina is an American Red Cross Instructor, holds an ACRE Certificate in Customized Employment (Discovery & Job Development), and is currently training in The Learning Community of Person-Centered Practices’ Train the Trainer, Person-Centered Thinking certificate program.
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  • Outside of work, Christina finds joy in exploring estate sales on weekends, taking walks and hikes with friends, and leveraging her certification as a yoga instructor.

Noey Garcia, Associate Director of Residential Services & Programs

  • With over 31 yearsof experience, Noey Garcia, our Associate Director of Residential Services and Programs, has dedicated their career to advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities.
  • From direct care to managerial roles, Noey prioritizes delivering quality services with respect and dignity. Recognized for collaboration with regional centers, vendors, and public agencies, Noey ensures compliance with Title 22 and 17 regulations.
  • As a seasoned instructorfor First Aid CPR and CPI Crisis Prevention Interventions, Noey upholds high service standards. Outside work, Noey enjoys family time, BBQs, and attending Dodger and Laker games.

• Alan Quintos, Financial Controller

  • Alan has extensive experience in financial control, operations streamlining, and grant management. As an Independent Contractor and Controller, he successfully managed finance and accounting operations, provided construction job estimates, and resolved billing issues. In previous roles, including Finance and HR Manager at Building Skills Partnership and Controller/HR Manager as an Independent Contractor, Alan demonstrated expertise in budgeting, payroll management, and infrastructure development.
  • Alan has extensive experience in financial control, operations streamlining, and grant management. As an Independent Contractor and Controller, he successfully managed finance and accounting operations, provided construction job estimates, and resolved billing issues. In previous roles, including Finance and HR Manager at Building Skills Partnership and Controller/HR Manager as an Independent Contractor, Alan demonstrated expertise in budgeting, payroll management, and infrastructure development.

Angela Pao-Johnson, Executive Director

Angela Pao-Johnson has been a dedicated healthcare professional serving individuals with developmental disabilities for 20 years. She has worked in and alongside many different systems including regional centers, health care insurance companies, and school districts.

  • In her last role, Angela was the founderand Chief Executive Officer of Autism Learning Collaborative, overseeing multi-state expansion and team growth from 13 to 130 employees in 2 years.
  • Angela holds a Bachelor’sdegree in Psychology from the University of California-San Diego and a Master’s degree from Pepperdine University. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, a Project Management Professional, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
  • In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two young children and a house full of critters.