Angels on Earth

The following letter was written by a parent of an Early Childhood Intervention Program client. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program helps children ages birth to 36 months with disabilities and developmental delays achieve their goals in cognitive, social/emotional, communicative, adaptive and physical development.

Good morning,

My name is Camille and my son Justus was a client of the ECI program of Easter Seals Greater Houston.

The team of Ms. Phyllis, Ms. Frances, Ms. Nicole,Justus ECI Blog Photo Ms. Atra, Mr. Jesus, Ms. Jennifer, Ms. Christy, Mr. Ben. Ms. Thien and Ms. Chelsea went above and beyond. The impact that their professionalism and care of my son while he was in the program cannot adequately be expressed in words. Justus’ ability to walk, to speak, to feed himself, to comprehend simple commands, even to socialize with others is a direct reflection of the efforts of the team assigned to him and I could not have been more blessed to have interacted with them – a blessing truly.

Justus is now going through the process of getting screened by Lamar  Consolidated ISD. The persons conducting the evaluation are very pleased by what he demonstrates and they attribute his increased abilities to the great care provided by the Easter Seals Greater Houston Early Childhood Intervention team in which he was under.

Please pass this thank you on to them and let them know how much they mean to the clients they serve. I do not have any resources to adequately thank them for all that they did for Justus and myself. If there is an award or a recognition, please put each of them in for it – they all truly deserve it for they are God’s angels serving on earth today.

Thank you and have a great day!

Camille, Early Childhood Intervention Program client parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Make Our Veterans Program Part of Your Unit

Usually I write about a person who was helped by the services I provide through Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Veterans Program. This time I’m going to do that with a twist, so let me tell you the story. Years ago I met a Marine and after this initial meeting our paths diverged for a long time. About a year ago, our paths crossed again at a Marine Corps birthday celebration in Houston and I learned he was a County Veterans Service Officer. After catching up we discovered that we both worked in the Veteran community to reduce the stigma around mental health, providing services to Veterans and their family members. Though our services are different, they both aim to end the suffering in silence of so many Veterans. Over this year, we have discussed all these things and one thing was clear-we have the same mission. A partnership was born that extends to the many Veterans we meet each week.

You might think this is just a story about two people in the community working together to help Veterans, but it isn’t. Yes, we benefit from the collaboration because of the confidence and trust that is shared between us. I know he will work hard and go the extra mile to help those I refer to him. He knows this of me too. Yet, the most important part of our meeting is how our complimentary services have benefited those that have served and their families. He most often refers individuals who have suffered in silence for years due to experiences from their service. Most often it is combat related. veteran-blogHe tells them how things can get better and how they can feel better. He offers hope from someone who has been there. He helps connect them to the services they need. And they get better. When they come to our Veterans Program I give them information about what they are dealing with, the sense of isolation reduces, they feel the support, more things seem possible, and more gets done. I tell them, “You didn’t get here by yourself, so build a unit that will help you get out of this.” Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Veterans Program can be part of that unit. A County Veterans Service Officer is part of my unit. And we press forward . . . offering hope and services to those who want them and who no longer want to suffer alone.

Dr. Cristy Gamez-Galka, Mental Health Lead for Fort Bend Veterans Case Management Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Easter Seals Greater Houston is proud to offer a variety of services that Veterans and their families can benefit from including Fort Bend Veterans Case Management Program, Fort Bend Veterans Companion Dog Program, Bank On Montgomery County as well as the collaborative efforts of the Texas Veterans + Family Alliance.

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Children’s Therapy Program There for Every Step

The following post was written by a clients mother:

ctp-blog-picMy daughter is 5 years old and diagnosed with a rare disease that causes vision impairment, epilepsy, low muscle tone and developmental delays. Her name is Aubrey and she is diagnosed with a mutation of the DNM1 gene. Her condition was undiagnosed for the first three years of her life. We initially received state sponsored physical, occupational and speech therapy. We also sought private therapy through a local hospital. Aubrey made extremely slow but steady progress. She could not sit unassisted or maintain weight on her legs. I spent time researching therapy and staying connected with families that have children with similar conditions. I was told about TheraSuit therapy by a family in Australia. Their children benefited from this intensive therapy. I then asked Aubrey’s health providers about the specialized physical therapy. I was put in contact with a local family that had a great experience with Easter Seals Greater Houston.

I contactctp-blog-pic-2ed Easter Seals Greater Houston and the staff member was extremely helpful in determining that Aubrey was eligible for services. I applied for financial help from a local charity organization and Aubrey was gifted a six week session of intensive physical therapy with Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Children’s Therapy Program. Her progress was amazing. After the intensive therapy sessions ended we continued her treatment at Easter Seals. She is currently enrolled in Physical, Occupational and speech/feeding therapies with NDT certified therapists. She has made phenomenal progress. Easter Seals therapists have assisted us in finding equipment and adaptive toys through their ToyTech resource to help her. We are excited to see what the future holds for Aubrey and thank the special people that work with her weekly at Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Angela, Children’s Therapy Program parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E.M. Forster

To refer a child or for further information regarding the Children’s Therapy Program please call 713-838-9050 ext 381

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Relax, Recharge, Feel Refreshed

Thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston and Hilton Hotel of America, Downtown Houston – my husband and I enjoyed the gift of time together and a break from home, where we could recharge ourselves. Living in a disabled family, although rewarding, is full of extreme ups and downs that can be excessively stressful at times. Around the clock duty as a care taker to our adult son with autism and co-occurring disabilities means that time away is a chance to unwind, have some much needed down time and also return ready to take on another day. We really appreciated that Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program gives us the chance to get away from home, but be close enough in case of emergencies. We enjoyed our trip to The Houston Galleria to prepare for the holidays and were spoiled with deliciously prepared breakfasts.

respitality-and-hilton-hotel

Easter Seals Greater Houston has been a constant support in our lives for our son. Not only with the Respite Program, but when he was younger and attended Family Day Out on Saturdays once a month and of course the much anticipated Camp Buckaroo in the summer. Before the location in The Woodlands started, we would drive over an hour each way into Houston for camp, it was worth the chance to have our son engaged and stimulated in a safe environment for a few days during the summer break.

Thank you for the opportunity to enjoy this time especially during the hectic holiday season. We were so happy and care free for a couple of days – and this opportunity could not have come at a more needed time.

We appreciate Easter Seals Greater Houston, love the Hilton of Americas and are thankful for all you do for the disabled community and care takers.

Thank you,

Nicole and Darrel, Respite Services clients, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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The Gift of Time

A BIG SHOUT OUT to ALL the VOLUNTEERS that have helped the hundreds of families in the Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program.

fili4What better way to help your own community than at the core root FAMILY! Easter Seals Greater Houston relies on hundreds of volunteers a year to help support our families.  And the volunteers often say they get more gratification, and have more fun, than the kiddos do.  “My heart is full when I come play with the kids”, says volunteer, Lauren Fry. “It makes me feel good knowing I am giving the gift of time to parents with kids with disabilities. But honestly, I do it more cuz its just a really fun time.”

Many organizations have a goals of helping within their own community, and we are so es-pno_-57lucky that have have chosen Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program to accomplish that goal.  Organizations like The Montgomery Chapter of National Charity League, Lonestar College, Sam Houston State University, The Houston Chapter of Young Filipino Professionals, Conroe ISD Mentoring Program, Conroe High School Student Council and Volleyball Club, Members of TWUMC. Without these volunteers, our Respite Program would be NON EXISTENT!  And, of course, what a travesty that would be.

Having a child with a disability, whether its physical or cognitive, is extremely emotionally and physically draining on parents, caregivers, and everyone in the household, including other siblings.  Divorce rate for couples with these extra challenges is historically over 70%.  Having time away from stress of that environment is critical for the health of the family unit. The old saying is still true, if you can’t care for yourself, you can’t care for your child.

FAMIJency at campLY DAY OUT is a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston that offers a day of Respite, once a month, for local families who have children with disabilities.  This is a FUN FILLED day for children (ages 6-14) with a disability and their siblings. It’s a time to play and have a day of fun while parents and caregivers take a much needed “break” and take some “time out”!

If you have are a part of an organization that would love to an EASY and FUN way to GIVE BACK we would love for you to COME PLAY WITH US!!! To get involved please contact Christine Ellery at cellery@eastersealshouston.org.

Megan Fry, Easter Seals Greater Houston client and friend

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Adult Bowling is Right Up Our Alley

You can hear the ball rolling down the alley, the pins fall, and a cheer from a group of friends. They are frequent visitors of AMF Windern Lanes, meeting up at the lanes on most 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month throughout the year. bowling2Adult Bowling is a great tradition being upheld by a special group of Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Adult Program, one that is rare and highly valued by both participants and volunteers.

Across the United States, especially in Texas, services for individuals with disabilities are shockingly sparse once they turn 18. Easter Seals Greater Houston recognized this need and created opportunities for adults with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in our community. Easter Seals Greater Houston offers two Adult Programs on Mondays and Wednesdays. These programs are free to the adults and offer activities such as yoga, painting, self defense, crafts, cooking, field trips, sporting events, and much more! Another popular program is Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Adult Bowling Program that allows for program partipants to play 3 games for only $5. These Saturdays offer them another opportunity to connect to one another and the community. The Adult Bowling Program is equally loved by our incredible volunteers.

One of our great volunteers shares that:

“Being able to put a smile on our adult client’s faces is so rewarding. Bowling and a social outing is something they do  not get to do regularly, and knowing thabowling3t I am making their day better by helping them bowl, be out in the community, seeing friends is such a great feeling. Our clients are so happy when they are done bowling, and they are what make this project so fun for me. I love seeing how excited my friends get when they get a strike or how competitive they can be when bowling with their friends. My favorite memory from bowling is when Robert almost got a turkey (3 strikes in a row). He was so excited, and I loved knowing that I had contributed to his happiness. Easter Seals Greater Houston Adult Bowling Program on Saturdays is such an easy way to make a difference in someone else’s life and such a fun way to spend my Saturday.”

If you are interested in partipating in or volunteering for our Adult Bowling Program, please contact Donald LeMoine at 713-838-9050 ext. 310 or at dlemoine@eastersealshouston.org.

Sara Padon, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Bowling Program Volunteer

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Financial Literacy Pays Off

It is Saturday, not yet 9—an early morning in The Woodlands with the promise of heat and humidity as people begin to arrive for the monthly Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Homebuyer and Financial Literacy class/Down Payment assistance workshop. Zip codes filling up the sign-in sheets speak of distance traveled that morning:  Harris, Ft. Bend, Brazoria, Waller, Walker Galveston, and  Chambers.  They come from neighborhoods from rural to urban, big city and small town, over a multi-county stretch.  They represent many different income, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, but all with the same purpose – qualifying for the down payment assistance program that will allow them to purchase a home.

Over coffee and doughnuts, the individual hoyo1stories take shape.  A widowed grandmother talks about the apartment complex where she has lived comfortably for the last 15 years but has struggled to pay the rapidly increasing rent over the last few years.  Living on a fixed income with little assets, meeting her monthly rent payments had become unsustainable, and homeownership seemed to be a pipe dream without some kind of assistance.

A young couple with 2 young children spoke of their need for space, a backyard, and safe sidewalks where their kids could bike to neighbors or area parks.

One single Mom of 2 children, who had survived on rental assistance through the county, proudly talked of her now stable job with the expectation of finally owning her own home close to her children’s school.  Without down payment assistance that dream of homeownership would remain just that – a dream, as even with good credit and little debt, qualifying for a home she could afford on her income would be impossible without some down payment assistance.

hoyo-staff-and-family-close-upOver the course of the morning, all the local, state and federal down payment assistance programs were reviewed.  Mortgage guidelines were discussed and the steps towards homeownership were outlined.  Each of these families left class that day with a plan before them, and some months later, all are now proud property owners of a home of their choice.

Homeownership is not for everyone, nor is it something that happens over night; however, with the help of the Easter Seals Greater Houston housing team, commitment to your financial goals, and perseverance, it is attainable.

Whether this is your first home or a move back into homeownership after years of renting, the homebuyer class/ Down Payment assistance workshop is a great first step towards one of the most important purchases of your life.

For more information on Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Homebuyer/Down Payment Assistance workshops or #BankOn, email: kthorstenberg@eastersealshouston.org.

Katy Thorstenberg, Housing Initiative, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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