It occurred to me that indeed the world is small, gets smaller everyday and that history repeats itself. Yes, this occurred to me all in one thought…yep, I know. Don’t anyone say what they are thinking… anyway…. Long story short….you hope…. I am proud to be on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Special Children’s Committee…just received my 5 year pin in fact although I have been a volunteer with HLSR for close to 15 years. So for those of you who don’t live in TX or Houston….rodeo …I know all kinds of things come to mind. BUT in reality this “ain’t your usual rodeo”. This rodeo has been around for 80+ years and has the largest group of volunteers imaginable… over 27,000! The reason – this rodeo gives back…last year just the fiscal $ to local government was over $28,000,000! Better yet..this year’s commitment to college scholarships for TX students is over $12,000,000!…that’s the tip of the iceberg.
So 5 years ago I was ecstatic to get on the Special Children’s Committee which as you can imagine serves children and adults with disabilities and their families…every year around 4,000..that’s including a horse show, 3 nights of special performances, day tours for schools and a special rodeo called “Lil’ Rustlers”. And our agency and clients have benefited as long as anyone can remember…no matter what our name was.
Moving on…. That was just about the same time we knew we were re-affiliating with Easter Seals. Having been working at the agency for over 18 years, I knew there had actually been an Easter Seals in Houston over 40 years ago but what I didn’t know was that Lucia Painter Eaton started both the Easter Seals Houston affiliate and she started the “Special Children’s Committee”, not to mention having a large hand in changing the antiquated TX laws. Her son, and both her grandchildren have served as chairmen of the committee and I was lucky enough to actually serve under one of them. So to say the very least, the Eaton family was very happy to see that an Easter Seals affiliate was back in the community and that a long time staffer was actually serving on the “SCC” committee.
So not to make this story ANY more convoluted than it already is…one of the other committees through which our Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo raises funds is the School Art Committee and Auction. Out of our SCC committee has evolved a school art auction buyers group called The Special Hearts Buying Group that has been together for 11 years. They have purchased art in each of the last 10 years’ auctions supporting the School Art Auction with more than $190,000 in art purchases. Their mission is to use the art they buy to recognize people and organizations that provide exceptional service to the disability community around the Houston area. Each year they select an organization, or an individual, and present to them the purchased art in recognition of their work in the community that the SCC committee works to support and uphold.
This year Easter Seals Greater Houston received it and I was there to accept on our behalf at our most recent SCC committee meeting. Our accolades – “It is because of its’ exemplary work in the disability community that the Special Hearts buying group would like to present to Easter Seals Greater Houston, in honor of Lucia Painter Eaton and her family, the original painting by Rhyne Acuff called “Southern Child”. Here to receive the painting is Kelly Klein on behalf of Easter Seals Greater Houston; and here to represent the Eaton family are Claire and her father, Tom.” See picture.
So there you have it. Not so much in a nutshell….believe me I COULD have made it longer! BUT that’s just it. Our history as an agency over 75+ years, eking out every step of the way trying to help people with disabilities…not an easy feat when Animal Shelters receive more individual donations than we do. No letters please –I like animals..I am stating a fact…(and of course up on my soap box) less than 3% of charitable giving goes to assist people with disabilities when the truth is – 1 in 5 have a disability and that is rising, insurance covers next to nothing of the therapies that a baby might need to learn to walk and talk, the middle class is the hardest hit and thanks to our government and other powers that be the first funding cut…is…you guessed it….always to people with disabilities be in it education, healthcare, or any other type of support. THE POINT? The point is my “six degrees of separation” and the history that pervades it, mean that we will not be forgotten and that there will ALWAYS be someone to step up to the plate. So those days, weeks, months when my calls aren’t returned, or that OTHER charity gets the grant or that OTHER event does so much better than ours… That thought allows me to sleep at night…or not…if I am at rodeo.
Kelly Klein, Development Director, Easter Seals Greater Houston