THRIVE-ing in 2021

Is one of your goals for 2021 to budget or to save money? Easter Seals Greater Houston’s THRIVE team is launching an online Zoom financial education class focusing on budgeting and food. In this class we will discuss a wide range of tips and tricks on how to save money at the grocery store including: why creating a budget is important; how to easily work making a grocery list, checking sale ads and coupons to save money into your life; how to navigate grocery store apps; and how you can implement these cash saving tips in your life.

Check out some of the tips we have for saving money! Join our class and get the in depth knowledge by emailing JGaehring@eastersealshouston.org today.

  • Did you know that there are sale cycles on products?
  • Being aware of when and what goes on sale and combining coupons is the secret extreme couponers use
  • Did you know there’s a way to get a Sunday paper for only a $1.00?
  • Did you know there are now manufacture digital coupons or that some grocery stores will match their competitors pricing?
  • Did you know there are certain tricks you can combine to save the most money?
  • Did you know that there are websites that do all the work for you and recommend where to go for best sale and coupon combinations?

We will be going over how to use grocery store apps, sale ads and coupons to your advantage and how planning ahead can save you money. Learn the secrets and tips to save money on your grocery store trips. Please contact Jessika Gaehring at Jgaehring@eastersealshouston.org if you are interested in this class.

Our THRIVE Program aims to help Veterans, those with disabilities, and their caregivers learn how to budget, one-on-one financial coaching, home buyers education classes and help finding a job.

To learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston programs please contact

Homebuyers Education Classes & One-on-One Financial Coaching – Jenny Lopez-Martinez at JLopez@eastersealshouston.org

One-on-One Financial Coaching and Financial Classes – Jessika Gaehring at Jgaehring@eastersealshouston.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

Escaping Boredom Together

Even though we are just itching to get to see each other again in person, we are making the most of our time on Zoom! Every week our LEAD Adult Program meets virtually via Zoom with a different activity planned for each meeting. Last week, Kenzie Richard volunteered her time to lead our adults through a Disney World Virtual Escape Room! Our LEADers participated in each challenge to escape Disney World. Some of the challenges were quite hard but when we worked as a team, we were able to get out in just under an hour. Thank you Kenzie for leading us through that fun adventure! Check out this video of our Adult Program participants working together to escape the room and boredom.

Do you have a special activity or program you think our LEAD Adult Program would enjoy? Are you interested in leading us through the activity for 30 minutes or an hour via Zoom? Email Ashley Nichols at ANichols@eastersealshouston.org to learn how you can get involved!

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s LEAD (Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities) Adult Programs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

Advance Auto Parts is Advancing Inclusion

Easter Seals Greater Houston, in partnership with Advance Auto Parts, the Easter Seals National office, and the James Emmett Company, has begun a project to recruit persons with disabilities for positions within Advance Auto Parts stores and the distribution center for the Houston region. Advance Auto Parts has a company-wide initiative to increase the number of employees who have disabilities throughout the company. Both full-time and part-time jobs, across all shifts, are available at three Advance Auto Parts stores in Houston and at their parts warehouse in north Houston. Houston is the fourth city in America where Advance has initiated this project. A similar project began in Dallas the same day as the Houston project. Advance has a goal of increasing the number of employees with disabilities in every state in which they have facilities.

Easter Seals staff have reached out to Texas Workforce Solutions (TWS) offices to include them in the partnership through their services for persons with disabilities. TWS can provide equipment an employee may need, job readiness, and job training and job coaching if an employee needs assistance on their job. We have also made information about this initiative available to the Easter Seals Veterans and THRIVE programs.

When a person with a disability wishes to apply for a job with Advance, they should go online to https://www.advanceautoparts.jobs/en-US/page/retail-careers to determine the job(s) for which they wish to apply and contact Robert Williams at RWilliams@eastersealshouston.org to make sure their information is given to the James Emmett Company, which will shepherd their application through the interview process. Persons who apply through this initiative will receive a job interview and extra points toward meeting the requirements for their chosen jobs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

Hand in Hand Therapies

The following was written by a parent of an Early Childhood Intervention client to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Director.

Hello I am the parent of “Z” who has been in the Easter Seals Greater Houston’s program about year and half now. Just to provide you with a little background of this little fellow. “Z” has faced with many challenges in his year and half-life but he is a true solider and overcoming slowly.  “Z” was referred by his Pediatrician to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program, because of torticollis at the age of 5 months. He is now 20 months; and he still deals with his “head tilt” from time to time. He was assigned to Melissa for Physical Therapy and from his assessment it indicated he had some developmental delays.  He showed unbelievable progress while working with Melissa over a year and half, which has eased some of my trying times with my little one. “Z” is currently working with several ESGH ECI Therapists

Melissa has been providing therapy with my “Z” the longest and has been a great observer and excellent Physical Therapist provider. Melissa has suggested many things that she felt would help my son such as sensory activities, compression clothes, compression vest for tip-toeing, Wilbarger Brushing for sensory; all of which is helping with my son’s progress. She also suggested I speak with Jinelle about referring my son to Occupational Therapy for behavior issues that stem from sensory input along with Speech Therapy to continue meeting his milestones. Melissa also helped with sending me educational materials, head-tilt strengthening techniques, and showed me strategies to implement daily to help my son with crawling and walking. Most importantly, she educated me on how the 5 stages of developmental milestones are reached and how some delays affect the next milestones when they are not met. Not only allowing me to know that my son is progressing but also in addressing my pediatrician.

The reason for this letter is to let you know how wonderful your team at Easter Seals has been to my family and most importantly to my son “Z”.   I have so much gratitude to Easter Seals and this team of ladies that words can’t explain. Jinelle (Case manager), Thein (Nutritionist), Melissa (PT), Dionise (OT), and Michelle (Speech) are a blessing. This village of a team has improved my son’s ability to function and adapt to the daily challenges he faces with delayed milestones, sensory and speech issues.

Working with the team of therapists, I have learned how all the milestones overlap/connect and how all the therapist’s roles are important, different and needed. Learning from the therapists allowed me to help my son to the fullest. Their knowledge on food selection, hands on activities techniques and being flexible with my work schedule do not go unnoticed. They all love their work, the children they serve, and they are very compassionate to parents concerns and feeling. When times were overwhelming for us, the therapists provide a listening ear while staying professional and never crossing boundaries. It felt good as a parent to have this village of professionals ease my emotions.

This team has been around since day one with my son.  Jinelle has been a great case manager by providing helpful resources, connecting me to the appropriate specialists, providing me access to the weighted vest and sensory brush, and by being able to address other issues.  Jinelle is the glue that holds this team together and the person making sure services are on time.  Thein is awesome for making sure my child has the right nutrients and is staying on track with a healthy diet and weight gain.  She suggests food selections and fluid consumptions for “Z” to help with being underweight, and helps with mapping out mealtime scheduling suggestion for home and daycare.

Dionise and Michelle are new specialists incorporated to “Z”’s treatment services for the past 3 months. Mostly virtual due to #StayAtHome. They were recently able to see “Z” in person for the first time.  The total team is a completion of comfort. The comfort that my child will be able to thrive, and has the potential to maintain and overcome many of the behaviors that have led to sensory overloads and speech delays.  Everything goes hand in hand.  Sensory needs to be under control so “Z” can succeed in his vocabulary words, which will help him in talking and we have incorporated sensory bins into daily life, and pretend play with stuffed animals to help “Z” communicate with non-verbal and verbal cues to extend his communication. We started with 10 words and currently working towards 25 and more.

“Z” has come a long way – we are moving in the right direction but still have work to do.  “Z” took to Dionise the first time he saw her on zoom and even in person so much that he didn’t want her to leave. It was so funny that as we walked her to the door – he was waving bye to ME!  Together we are also working with my son on behavior techniques – less screen time, incorporating compression clothing all day, and weighted vest/blanketed. This team is compassionate, caring, flexible and dedicated to their line of work by providing exceptional hands on/Zoom support through teaching and providing me the knowledge to continue to work with my son through this challenging time.

Since the pandemic and throughout treatment, my son experiences some regression in each individual session but with the help of all therapist working together and keeping each other in the loop, my son has improved meeting milestones. These ladies are not just doing their job they are taking the initiative to go above and beyond for the families they serve while still following protocols of the company.

Without this Easter Seals team and the ECI program, I’m not sure where my son would be. On behalf of my family Thank You!  

Z’s Mom

Early Childhood Intervention services are available to children from birth to three (3) years old that show developmental delay, at risk for delay, or have a disability. Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

The most important thing about Camp MOST

This wonderful mini success story was written by Camp M.O.S.T. volunteer, Darrell, on his most recent application for virtual Camp M.O.S.T. taking place this month. 

“I’ve had the blessing to experience both in-person and online Camp MOST. Although one might not be ideal as the other, I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed them both. I’ve learned that what makes Camp MOST special isn’t the location, the ice cream, or the 2 hours of sleep. It’s the campers, the counselors, and the dancing to music like nothing matters that makes Camp MOST special to me. I wouldn’t change a thing about our camp!!”

Easter Seals Greater Houston is so proud to host inclusive and unbelievably fun camps, for kids, teens, and families throughout the year. Learn more about our camps!

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

BridgingApps-A Year Like No Other

2020 was a year like no other. Though it had incredible challenges BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, worked hard and accomplished so much. BridgingApps includes a websiteapp reviews by therapists and special education teachersa custom app search engineassistive technology labs and training options for parents, organizations and schools.

In 2020, BridgingApps focused on virtual training and were able to serve an incredible amount of clients online. The available research and the success stories the team captured reflects the potential power of using technology and proper training to significantly impact the lives of people with special needs, disabilities, Veterans, older adults, caregivers and more. Check out everything this hardworking and connective program accomplished!

Learn more and get involved with BridgingApps today!

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

The ROI of Mentorship

The following story was written by Carmen Phillips. Carmen is the Montgomery County Program Coordinator for Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program and High School High Tech.

January 2021 is the 19th annual National Mentoring Month and I can’t help but wonder where we might all be right now without the influence of a mentor.  Imagine, for a moment, a world without Apple Computers, Microsoft or Facebook; a world without Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa or even Marlon Brando as the Godfather.  This, my friends is a world without mentors.  Some of the most successful and brilliant minds of the last century had one thing in common.  They all had a mentor.

So, what does it mean to be a mentor?  According to world-renowned speaker and author Bob Proctor, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself and helps bring it out of you.”  I’m sure many of you can dig deep and think back to a time in your life when you looked up to someone for direction or guidance and approval.   Someone who changed the trajectory of your life.   A coach, a teacher or a boss perhaps.  Or perhaps, like many young people in America you had no one.   Well, you wouldn’t be alone.  More than 1 in 3 young people, an estimated 16 million, never had an adult mentor of any kind while they were growing up, according the national report The Mentoring Effect published in 2014.  This population includes an estimated 9 million at-risk youth who will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor, making them less likely to graduate high school,  go on to college and lead healthy productive lives.

Photo of young adults and mentors

For those 9 million at-risk youth, mentorship is a life-line.  It’s make or break and sadly in some cases, life or death.   It takes one caring adult to take interest and invest just a little bit of time into a young person’s life to forever change its course. Whether it’s a attending a football game, an occasional bowling night, a weekly text or just checking in on their report card, the smallest investment in a youth’s life results in some of the largest gains.  Not only for the youth, but for the mentor and the community in which they live.  In fact, according to a study cited by David Shapiro, President and CEO of MENTOR, every dollar invested in quality youth mentoring programs yields a $3 return in benefits to society at a minimum.  I think it’s safe to say that even Warren Buffet (who, by the way, mentored Microsoft mogul Bill Gates) would consider that a pretty darn good Return On Investment (ROI). 

The Mentoring Effect study also found that 76% of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate college and 45% of all at-risk youth with a mentor are now enrolled in some form of postsecondary education. So what do the numbers tell us? That mentoring makes a difference; it improves outcomes, it increases graduation rates, it reduces the risk of drug and alcohol use, it builds healthy interpersonal relationships and fosters measurable success in our at-risk youth in America.  

So, what’s not to love about Mentoring?  If you are interested in helping change the trajectory of a young person’s life and want more information about donating your time, skills or dollars to our at-risk Youth Mentoring Programs here at Easter Seals Greater Houston visit our website at www.EasterSealsHouston.org or reach out to us at 713-838-9050.

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

Santa and Veterans Team Deliver for Christmas

Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Wright and Tim Stroud from Easter Seals Greater Houston Veteran, Service Member, Military-Connected Family Program as well as a host of donors, one Houston Veteran slept in a REAL bed for the holidays. After connecting to the homeless Veteran, Dr. Wright reached out to others for help. As a frontline worker, Dr. Wright’s first action was to ensure the Veteran was in a safe place and had the right mental attitude. In the military, safe is an objective term. He was living in his car with his two dogs and since they are his emotional support animals, he would not go live in a shelter without them. 

This was all the information that Dr. Wright needed to know. She sprang into action and contacted her internal team and then the resources in their network. Since Easter Seals Greater Houston is funded under the Texas Veterans + Family Alliance Grant program from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, they work with over 250 local and regional Veteran Service Organizations. 

Within a few days, the Veteran was living in a home, had food, furniture, clothes, dishes and all the comforts of home. The Veteran now works at a “no kill” animal shelter and is very thankful for the case management and care from our TVFA Network. When the supplies were delivered, the Veteran remarked through teary eyes that this was the nicest bed he has ever slept in. Rest well warrior. 

The Veteran, Tim, smiling with his own room with his two dogs

It is our honor to support a Veteran and to foster just a little bit more of hope. The Veteran, Tim Bergdoll, gave us permission to share his story and indicated that this was the best Christmas ever!

“Being out of my car, sleeping in a warm bed, and watching Pico and Buddy enjoy their warm shower truly was a blessing.” Thank you, for your swift action! Thank you, TVFA for making this a happy-ending!

“On Christmas Eve, I was at peace knowing that this little crew was taken care of” says Tim.

Did you know that Easter Seals Greater Houston offers a wide range of programs and resources for Veterans, Service Members and Military-Connected Families? Learn more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

Thank You Greater Houston Community Foundation!

Jessica W., a single mother, became a Easter Seals Greater Houston client after Hurricane Harvey.  She sought assistance after being flooded in the home she was renting.  We provided assistance and helped her get back on her feet.  About a year later, Jessica hit another rough patch; she was laid off from her job.  Jessica became a Food Scholarship Program participant to help ease food costs, and started working more closely with a financial coach.  Jessica found another job, and this time stayed with the program, working first to create a realistic budget, and then to build her credit.  Eventually, Jessica was able to get her credit where it needed to be to buy a home.  Then COVID-19 hit.  Jessica was unable to attend our first Homebuyer Education Classes and she took another financial hit.  Her dreams of buying a home were slipping away.  However, with COVID-19 Funding we were able to prevent Jessica from falling behind.  She was able to stay afloat and overcome the hardest financial impacts of COVID.  On September 30th, Jessica was able to close on a home for her and her son.  She is now saving money from what she was paying in rent.

Mother holding childing

We cannot thank the Greater Houston Community Foundation enough for its constant support of Easter Seals Greater Houston’s work and its role in the distribution of emergency funds after disasters.  We could not help families like Jessica’s stay afloat, away from crisis, and towards their dreams with GHCF’s partnership.  Thank you Greater Houston Community Foundation, and our amazing liaison, Stephanie Blair!

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s broad resources and programs, including Emergency Assistance and Financial Education.

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News

Fitting Independence in the Budget

When Easter Seals Greater Houston Housing and Financial Coach Carmen Phillips first met “C”, she was transitioning out of homelessness and back into her first apartment.  Due to her disability and low wages, C has always needed a roommate in order to afford housing.  Unfortunately, depending on a roommate to fulfill their half of the obligations proved detrimental to C’s financial stability and left her homeless yet again.  After several months of homelessness, she eventually managed to find a new roommate she had met at the local shelter and they got a new apartment. Despite some of C’s objections about saving money, she and Carmen continued to work together to build up her savings account just in case she found herself in a similar position in the future.  Because she receives disability and works part-time, it was hard for her to rationalize why she needed so much money in her savings account, since her disability was guaranteed.  Well, fast-forward to COVID-19.  Unfortunately, C was laid off from her part-time job and the very same month, her disability benefits were suspended due to some type of error regarding her wages.  She was now stuck in an apartment lease with zero income.  Fortunately, she had her savings to fall back on until her disability benefits were re-instated.  Throughout the pandemic, with the help of her stimulus checks and her unemployment, C managed to pay her rent, pay off her credit cards and build her savings up to $17,000. 

However, shortly thereafter, C’s roommate left unexpectedly, leaving her stranded with a 2 bedroom apartment and bills to pay. Fortunately, she had her savings account and decided to make a drastic move.  She took a portion of her savings and purchased a 5th Wheel Travel Trailer in order to have a home of her own.  C now owns her own place, does not have to depend on a roommate to split housing costs, pays less renting her RV spot than her apartment and has drastically lowered her electric bill, all while retaining $5,000 in her savings account.  C hopes to eventually save up her cash and purchase a small lot in order to completely eliminate paying monthly rent to anyone.

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s free resources for Financial Education, Homebuyer Education Services & Public Benefits. Our agency also has programs for Veterans, Service Members, and Military-Connected Families here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News