Staff Update

We are writing to announce that Patti Craig is no longer with Merrymakers Association.  We thank Patti for her years of service and we wish her the best in her future endeavors.  We are excited to announce that Sandy Lemke will be serving as our interim Executive Director!  If you have additional questions, please contact Board President Dave Mayer at or Sandy at

Congratulations to Merrymakers performer Janey Hooper

From The Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center newsletter:

Janey Hooper Photo

Every city has its jazz heroes, and Des Moines is no exception. For the past 15 years, the Community Jazz Center of Greater Des Moines (CJC) has honored these heroes with its annual Hall of Fame and Special Recognition Awards, October 18, at Adventureland Inn.

CJC will be inducting pianist/vocalist Janey Hooper (see article on page 3) into the Hall of Fame which now numbers a total 45 musicians. Special Recognition Awards will be given to trumpeter Dave Rezek and the Turner Center Jazz Orchestra. The Next Generation Award, which focuses on up-and-coming musicians who are making an impact on music in Des Moines, will be presented to guitarist Ben Chappell. The Bobby Dawson Award, presented to a student musician who has been involved regularly with the CJC monthly jam session, will be presented to saxophonist Taylor Igram from Valley High School.

The Hall of Fame event will kick off at 5:00 p.m. with a performance by the CJC Youth Combo. Doors open for the main event at 6:00 p.m. with live music followed by the ceremony and lots of live jazz by this year’s winners and some of Des Moines’ finest musicians, including the Jim Eklof Trio featuring Tanner Taylor on piano and Steve Charlson on bass.

Tickets for this year’s event are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Food will be an additional option that may be purchased during the social time at the beginning of the evening. Visit or call 515-276-0777 for tickets.

COME EARLY FOR THE SILENT AUCTION: Bid on a variety of items that have been donated by CJC members including concert tickets, music lessons, artwork, restaurant coupons, autographed CDs, instruments and more. All funds raised will benefit CJC. If you have something you would like to donate for the silent auction, call 515-276-0777.

Songs & Suds Regency

Thursday July 30th, Merrymakers celebrated its third annual Songs & Suds, a karaoke event designed bring in new funds and to create awareness of the Merrymakers mission.

The event was held at the Regency Lake and Tennis Club from 7-10 p.m..

Over 100 guests were present to try their hand at singing, bid at the silent auction or socialize with friends. The highlight of the auction was a $2,500 pink necklace donated by Borsheim’s Fine Jewellery.

The reason the event is slanted to karaoke singing is to highlight Merrymakers musical mission in working with our elderly population. In fact, many of Merrymakers performers were present to show off their musical skills and help support the non-profit.

Organizers of the event were coordinators Melissa Hegarty and Shawna Mayer who were asked to make the event more of a fundraiser than a friend raiser. They and their committee members Angela Cutler, Karen Granger, Kasey Harrison, Lakelyn Hogan, Emily Kerr, Mary Kerr, Tom Kerr, Laurie McCarthy, Tena McCormack, Maria Mindermann, Melissa O’Neill and Denise Snodgrass made the event flow seamlessly, making the event better than last year’s breakout evening.

The event brought in $10,000. Those dollars will go directly to financing Merrymakers performer’s visits to senior facilities throughout Nebraska and Iowa.

The DJ for the event was Cathy Katzenburger of Katz Karaoke.

Anthony’s catering provided light food, and Nothing Bundt Cakes donated their delicious cakes for dessert.

Kristi Benning performs at the Merrymakers 2015 Songs & Suds event

Kristi Benning performs at the Merrymakers 2015 Songs & Suds event

Merrymakers Annual Roast

STD ROAST SLIDEThis year, we’re breaking from tradition to honor one of Merrymaker’s greatest benefactors and advocates.

Mike Simmonds was a one-of-kind man who gave back generously with time, talent and treasure to improve the lives in the community he loved.

Please join us at Embassy Suites La Vista to TOAST Mike Simmonds and celebrate the legacy he left us.

p.s. There will be laughter!