MHelping Hands Child Care & Learning Center

"Connecting Children's Hearts and Minds"

Meet Our Teachers

Owner & CEO of Helping Hands Childcare & Learning Center

Melissa Merritt
Established Helping Hands Childcare in 1999.
Childcare Director’s Credential
B.S. in Education, Ohio University
M.S. in Instructional Leadership, Robert Morris University
Early Childcare Advocacy Volunteer
Beaver County Humane Society Education Board 2018-2021

My first job in early childcare was as a pre-k teacher when I was 22 years old and had just graduated from college. I tried substitute teaching in the public schools for a few months, but as soon as I got the job as a pre-k teacher I fell in love with the children & discovered this young and impressionable age was the group I wanted to be with everyday & teach. Their passion for learning was so joyful to see.

I opened Helping Hands Childcare in 1999 with the encouragement from multiple friends & families I had cared for in the past. My children were four & two years old when the center opened. My children Sydney & Austin both attended West Allegheny as we have lived in Oakdale, then Imperial their entire school career. I live in Imperial with my wonderful “Daisy” (dog) who is 15 years old. I love to hike state & national parks. I usually hike every weekend. Since my children are grown & on their own, I enjoy being able to travel a few times a year. I also am an avid scrapbooker & enjoy crafting.

Community outreach & involvement have also become a passion of mine since I have been so fortunate to own my business for over 23 years. The families of the West Allegheny School District & surrounding areas have made Helping Hands successful by entrusting the care of their children to us & sharing their experience with us with others, so it extremely important to me to give back to the community that supports us. As part of our curriculum, we incorporate community outreach monthly. We support many local groups including food pantries, school collections, the library, humane society/animal shelters, & specialty organizations for individual families in need.

After 30 years in early childcare I can honestly say I still love what I do. Having the privilege to be a significant part of a child’s growth & development while providing a family peace of mind that their child is being cared for, loved, & safe while they work is a huge responsibility that I appreciate & take very seriously. I have been fortunate enough to be in a successful business long enough that I can say I have taken care of two generations of multiple families in the area. It is quite amazing to care for a child, then care for their child. My belief as an educator & caregiver is that a person or business should always be striving to improve in quality & education. Helping Hands has had the highest state accreditation, a Star IV rating for over 10 years. We are the only center that has achieved this accreditation in the West Allegheny School District & maintained it. We are always working hard to maintain quality staff, pursue higher education & trainings in early childcare to stay relevant with educational & development research, & keep our facility updated, safe, & an exciting learning environment.

Melissa  Merritt

Hello, My name is Lori Ventura & I love being the Director of Helping Hands! I have had the privilege of working with all ages at our center for the past 11 years. I received my degree in Special & Elementary Education from Slippery Rock University. I have 2 daughters who have both went through our program. What I love most about my job is watching children grow throughout their years here & connecting with families. I am so proud of our dedicated teachers who are always willing to learn & adapt to provide a Star IV quality program each day.My favorite color is green & I love nature, hiking, cats & antiques. I love sweets, especially dark chocolate & enjoy gourmet coffee & teas. I continue to look forward to serving children & families & supporting our community. If you ever have a question or comment, please reach out to