At Meristem, students learn to socialize and self-advocate.
Meristem students are young adults (18-28 years old) who show the potential to achieve independence and self-sufficiency upon graduation. They often have aspirations for career and/or college, and are willing to discover and work towards their passions and goals.
Abbie has learned teamwork, job skills and acceptance in recreation, and honestly the joy I see on her face is priceless. Thank you for caring about each student’s needs and helping them to feel accepted.
Meet Some of Our Students
Zachary, 1st Year Student
I’ve been working on time management and how I spend my money. When I get a job I want to make sure I have enough money and make good decisions. Long term, I want to live in a home, so having those budget skills would help me make sure I have enough to support myself. Meristem instructors have a good style of teaching where they don’t force you to do things a certain way. They’ve given me the freedom to fail. I’m a firm believer that you have to fail to learn from mistakes, otherwise you do the same thing over and over. I’ve only been here a few months and Meristem has already helped me so much.
Emma, 1st Year Student
I’ve been working on independent living skills like cooking, baking and doing a better job of cleaning my room. Those are all really important skills to have if you want to live on your own. Long term, I want to own my own bakery. If that doesn’t work out, I want to be a storyteller or children’s author. I’ve been writing stories for children. At Meristem, Jenni has taught me to be more creative. I act-out stories in improv with her. In the bakery. In herbal arts, Shea is my mentor. Shea, Lucia and Jenni inspire me to go a little deeper with my creativity. The school has allowed me to find hidden talents that I never found before.
Nic, 2nd Year Student
I’m working on customer service. I was doing that at the bookstore last semester and now I’m helping Harry run the Bed and Breakfast. He’s teaching me to help guests check in and check out. Long term, after I finish at Meristem I may go to college. I want to work in the movie industry, or possibly as a travel agent. Customer service is important in either job because you have to be able to tell customers what their options are. I’m learning skills that help me be independent. I can cook for myself now too.
A’Raeann, 2nd Year Student
I’ve been doing anime drawings that describe my emotions. I’ve been working on controlling my anger. It’s easier to sketch out my drawings to express my emotions. I want to become an animator. Meristem is teaching me about that and about running a franchise to make t-shirts with my art on them (A’Raeann sold shirts at the 2019 Winter Faire).
David, 3rd Year Student
There’s a building in downtown Fair Oaks that’s being renovated, so I’ve been working on those renovations with the owner. That work helps provide some form of income and it gives me job experience. Meristem put me in touch with my first welding experience, and now I’m going to school to become a welder.
Harry, 3rd Year Student
I’ve been running the Bed and Breakfast at Meristem and I’ve been teaching other students as an advisor. At Meristem, I’ve learned how to be on time. If you’re not on time, you’re not part of what’s happening. To get paid, you have to be on time. I’m interested in working at a resort or hotel in hospitality food management. When I was 16, I discovered that I need dietary restrictions. I’ve always been gluten-free and dairy-free, so I’d like to help other people be able to eat the right foods. I just think Meristem is opening the door to everyone.
Student success is highly individualized. Long-term goals are identified early on by each student. Staff support our students strongly at first and slowly reduce that support over time.
- Some live in apartments in the community.
- Some have successfully attended colleges including Sacramento State and American River College.
- Some work in areas such as hospitality, retail, senior living homes, restaurants, country clubs, municipal agencies, nonprofits and libraries.
- Some participate in Meristem’s Breaking Barriers Program and work to develop a best-practices model for hiring, training, retaining and promoting young adults on the spectrum.
- Some advocate for disability legislation in Washington D.C.
“Coming to Meristem has been the best decision I have ever made. Before I came here, I didn’t have as much self-confidence as I do now. I have learned how to balance my family, friends and relationships. This is a safe place to make mistakes and learn from them while being able to speak my mind…. Basically, I get to fly.”
“Meristem is nothing short of miraculous. It is the first program we encountered during our 24 years of advocacy for our son that has produced obvious, measurable and profound results. It is the first I’ve encountered that has made me believe that my son will be OK when I’m gone. That is powerful beyond what I can convey.”
“Even though our son graduated with a Bachelors Degree from Cal State in Berkeley, he still wasn’t ready to live independently. In a few short months at Meristem we have seen so much progressive change in him; we are very optimistic about his future to get a job and live independently.”
Jyotsna and Ravi