Category Archives: Latest News

Striving Sisters

“Both of my daughters were referred to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program for physical therapy from their Orthopedic surgeon following surgeries, casting, and bracing for both girls to correct bilateral club foot. “A” and “E” have made tremendous progress reaching their developmental milestones with the help of their ECI therapists and service coordinator over the last year. The physical therapist has helped to show me activities to strengthen their ankles and feet and both “A” and “E” are so motivated during sessions. At 14 months age adjusted, “A” started taking her first independent steps this month and now she’s walking everywhere! “E” is very close to walking on her own, she is walking with little help and her push toy, and she is so motivated to stand and look at her favorite books. I am so proud of how strong both girls are and am excited to see how they continue to grow and learn with the help of Easter Seals Greater Houston ECI.”

-“A” and “E” mom 

The time from birth to age three is critical in your child’s physical and cognitive development.  To help make sure your baby is reaching their developmental milestones, you can complete this free Ages & Stages Questionnaire or check with your pediatrician if you have concerns. Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program!

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Paving the Way with Belief and Hard Work

Greta Cherry and Jamie Hodges at Hats Off To Mothers Luncheon

The following was shared by Jamie Hodges, DPT in response to Greta Cherry, an incredible friend and fellow physical therapist, retiring. Cheers to the amazing and unstoppable Greta Cherry who retired from our Infant Program after nearly 50 years of service to the babies in our community. Greta has left her mark on countless children and their families, black women following in her profession, and most definitely on all of us who worked with her at Easter Seals Greater Houston.

“When I graduated from PT school, our class had more African American students than any other class. All of the classes prior to us had 1 maybe 2 black students …..for many years until our class which had 5. We were excited and proud that we had made it into the program especially when we all graduated. 

In all my training as a physical therapy technician, student and even when I stepped into my career to encounter another black physical therapist, was rare and then to meet one that was older than me was even more rare. To be honest, I had never met another black physical therapist who was older than me until I met Mrs. Greta and Mrs. Priscilla. When I met her and shadowed her to determine if I wanted to work for Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program, I was in awe. I listened to everything she said and I took every word in! 

I don’t know why I wanted to share this with you…I guess because her impact goes beyond Easter Seals Greater Houston… I am grateful for her journey into this profession.  She paved the way for women like me.” -Jamie Hodges, DPT

Read Mrs. Greta’s heartfelt thank you note reflecting on her time as a physical therapist with Easter Seals Greater Houston and how her legacy will live on.

“I know I should have sent this thank you sooner, but having to write and send it seems so final. I found myself delaying ‘thank you’ to everyone at Easter Seals this time because it makes me so sad, it seems like the end of such an important part of my life. I had to come to the realization, I will no longer be a physical therapist and no longer work for Easter Seals. Change is hard and a final change is harder.

I want to say first, I am very thankful to have been able to work and be a part of Easter Seals for 48 years. I can look back for the rest of my life and have no regrets about my career choice. I was blessed to get my first job to be able to work with children and fulfill my dream to come true.

During all these years, I was given so much support that helped me grow to increase my knowledge and develop my skills. I was given the opportunity to serve as Supervisor of Physical Therapy for many years.

I have made so many wonderful friends, had the chance to work with some of their children. I consider all to be my family.

It has not all been work, I have had so much fun attending lots of fabulous parties, fundraisers, traveling and even getting to meet lots of famous people like [Congresswoman] Barbara Jordan. I celebrated my “30th”, “40th”, “50th”, “60th” and “70th” birthdays at Easter Seals.

I want to thank everyone for contributing to my retirement tribute. It was beautiful. I get teary-eyed every time I watch it.

Thank you so much for all the gifts and financial support. The crown is sooo beautiful. I placed it so it can be the center of attention in my home. As a matter of fact my living room is covered with beautiful gifts I have received over the years. The icing on my cake (my career) was the “Greta Cherry Award.” It was so unexpected and I feel so honored. I truly thank all those who initiated the thought of honoring me in such a special way.

It is an achievement given to me that I can celebrate knowing that I will be remembered for a long time even after I am gone. I could not ask for more. This honor came while I am living to see it. Thank you! Thank you!

May God continue to bless Easter Seals with success and growth as it serves so many people and provides for their needs.

I was around to see so many changes. Believing in what you are doing and working hard is what Easter Seals is all about.

Love you all!!!

Greta H. Cherry”

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Playing for Progress

Mason is pointing to the airplanes outside the airport 

Mason has been enrolled in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program for 5 months and he has been receiving Specialized Skills training. When he started the program, he was only saying 2 words and he was not pretending or wanting to interact much with others. Playing pretend is such a big part of language development and a fun way for our Early Childhood Intervention Specialists to work on so many skills with our clients.

Now Mason is very engaged with his parents and his sister. He will come to them and pull them over to join him in play. He enjoys pretending with his toy animals and he will copy many different actions and sounds with them . He also enjoys stacking blocks and counting them and having races with his sister where he will say “ready set go” for them to start. He has a vocabulary of over 30 words and is starting to put words together and he is beginning to use words more consistently to get his needs met. His parents are very happy and excited about his progress and feel that he is now prepared to start school when he turns 3.

“I want to thank the ECI Program and Heather Zamora (his Early Intervention Specialist). Thanks to their services, today I can say that Mason is reaching the goal. Every day I can see his improvement. I feel satisfied with the program’s services.” -Mason’s Mom

The time from birth to age three is critical in your child’s physical and cognitive development.  To help make sure your baby is reaching their developmental milestones, you can complete this free Ages & Stages Questionnaire or check with your pediatrician if you have concerns. Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program!

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“C” Gets an A in Finances

“C” first came to Easter Seals Greater Houston as a participant in a Credit Workshop hosted by Volunteers of America Conroe.  She decided to set up a one-on-one coaching appointment for herself and her husband.  She entered Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Financial Coaching Program with bad credit, $8,000 worth of debt and a family budget that was out of control.  Her goal was to stick to a set monthly budget, reduce her debt and improve her credit score in order to buy her first home.  Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and campus restrictions, she was unable to finish her nursing program training, however she has diligently worked to communicate with and pay off creditors, reduce debt and spend less money each month.  Her credit score improved from a 520 to a 637, she reduced her debt from $8,000 to $184, and she decreased her monthly expenses by $1,814.  We are so proud of C!

Did you know that anyone can participate in our FREE one-on-one financial counseling or our classes that help you with your budget, money management, raising your credit score and more? Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s free Financial Education, Homebuyer Education Services & Public Benefits Programs today!

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Making Houses Homes

Are you a First Time Home Buyer ready to purchase your new home?  If so, congratulations, you have made the first step by reading this blog. My name is Jenny Lopez-Martinez and I am a Financial and Housing Coach for Easter Seals Greater Houston. I would like to invite you to our virtual Homebuyers Education Classes where you will learn the tools needed to become a homeowner.  We will discuss various ways to budget; every participant will receive a budget sheet at the end of session 1. The budget sheet is a tool used to help participants create and reach their financial goal. The class will also discuss the importance of having a savings especially if you are buying a home. The class will introduce the steps on how to pull your credit report, review your credit report and rebuild your credit. We will also review the mortgage loans products, the down payment assistance programs, and every participant will receive additional resources from Freddie Mac.  This is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approve course and open to anyone who is ready to buy their first home. Since the classes are virtual, we are providing the classes in session 1 and session 2. At the end of session 2 or once both classes are completed, you will receive a certificate for your participation. We welcome you to learn more about and participate in our upcoming Homebuyer Education Classes.

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s free Financial Education, Homebuyer Education Services & Public Benefits Programs today!

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Feeling Free Through Prolonged Exposure

Easter Seals Greater Houston has a branch of programs serving Veterans, Service Members and Military-Connected Families. Our mission is to assist military-connected families in building the lives they want during and after the military to meet their needs around reintegration, stability, wellness, and growth. Our goal is to provide an easy point of entry for Service Members, Veterans, and Military-Connected families to a range of behavioral health services.

Our team of clinicians serving Service Members, Veterans and Military-Connected Families uses many evidenced-based treatment modalities.  Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy teaches individuals to approach their trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations.  The outcome is learning the trauma-related memories are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided.  In other words, learning to confront the trauma instead of avoiding the trauma. 

Prolonged Exposure is difficult because the immediate response to those difficult memories and feelings is to avoid.  It is our natural default to protect ourselves from the danger.  However, the trauma is never processed, and those symptoms continue to keep the avoidance of places, people, situations, feelings, etc.  It keeps a hold on our lives.  In PE, we confront and explore the trauma in detail.

One success story of PE is of a client being able to take his son to Galveston.  He had always wanted to, but a previous trauma caused a fear of driving, and that prevented the trip from ever happening.  After doing PE with our clinician, the client made the trip and enjoyed every minute of it. 

Another success story of PE is a client being able to relate to a friend who was experiencing hardship due to abuse.  He was able to tell his story and the changes in his life he made.  His friend was grateful and decided to seek his own counseling.  Speaking about his trauma was a fear he had, and he had never spoken about the trauma prior to PE.

Lastly, after doing PE, a client described herself as feeling “free” for the first time in ten years.  Through PE, she started to recognize that she had to address the trauma and her discomfort with it in order to move forward with her life.  She said, “For the first time, I can see my life without my trauma being the highlight of it.”

Special thanks to STRONG STAR (South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience) for providing Easter Seals Greater Houston’s clinicians with Prolonged Exposure training.

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Veterans, Service Members and Military-Connected Family Programs.

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The Impact of Camp

The following blog was written by Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Summer 2021 Camp Intern.

My name is Maddie Farrell, I’m 20 years old, and I have lived in Houston my entire life. I’m a rising junior at Texas A&M University, where I’m studying Environmental Science in hopes to work in the sustainability field. I am involved in my sorority and Aggie ACHIEVEMates, a student organization that supports the students with disabilities in the ACHIEVE program at Texas A&M. I’m very passionate about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s mission and advocating for people with disabilities. I first started volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston in high school through my chapter of National Charity League. I’ve volunteered at both Camp Smiles and Camp Buckaroo and I loved my experiences at both of them. I had no idea how great an impact Easter Seals Greater Houston and their clients would have on my life when I first volunteered. I have met so many amazing kids, made so many sweet friendships, and learned a lot about myself and what it means to make a difference. I’m beyond excited to serve as a camps intern for the second year in a row and I can’t wait to see the kids in person this year! 

Did you know that June is National Camping Month? Easter Seals Greater Houston proudly hosts numerous accessible day and overnight camps throughout Texas. Help ensure children with disabilities have a barrier free summer and parents of children with disabilities receive caregiving relief. Donate Today! #NationalCampingMonth

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Celebrating Our Stellar Students

The Caroline School students had a great time at their End of School Year Bash! There was much to celebrate and many ways to do it. We experimented with chemical properties to make Elephant Toothpaste, painted a year-end group mural, made giant bubbles and engaged in a LOT of sensory play!

Here’s to a successful (and in-person) 2020-2021 school year! Thank you to The Caroline School teachers & families for helping our learners flourish. See you soon for Summer Program. Click here you would like to volunteer for our summer program in June and July!

The Caroline School has openings for the 2021-2022 school year. At The Caroline School, abilities, rather than disabilities, dictate the pace and path that each student follows. With an average class size of eight learners and a staff to student ratio of 1:4, teachers are able to meet every student at their level. Learn more about the incredible community and education your child can benefit from here. Please contact our School Director, Tabitha Hernandez, at THernandez@eastersealshouston.org or 713-838-9050 ext. 362 with questions or to schedule a tour.

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Better Hearing and Speech Month

The following was written by Mary Dawson, M.A.CCC-SLP, the Clinic Director for Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Program.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with my now 22-month old grandson after a year of only visiting through FaceTime visits. Wow, how he had changed! It was so wonderful to see and hear him communicate with us. He uses a combination of words, phrases and gestures to request, label, protest and comment about all he sees and wants. Even the short time he was with us he learned to say his version of “green truck” a new favorite toy.

As a speech- language pathologist, I am often asked, “when should I be concerned if my child is not communicating like his friend or siblings”. I inform parents to speak with their pediatrician about their concerns and provide communication milestones.

Know the signs of common speech and language disorders in children between birth and 4 years of age, an important stage in early detection of communication disorders.

  • Does not smile  (begins 2 months)
  • Does not babble (4-7 months)
  • Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7-12 months)
  • Does not understand what others say (7 months-2 years)
  • Says only a few words (12-18 months)
  • Words are not easily understood (18 months-2 years)
  • Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5-3 years)
  • Has trouble playing and talking with other children (2-3 years)
  • Has trouble with early reading and writing skills (2.5-3 years)

Ways to Help with Language Disorders

  • Listen and respond to your child
  • Talk, read, and play with your child
  • Talk with your child in the language you are most comfortable using
  • Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing
  • Use a lot of different words with your child
  • Use longer sentences as your child gets older

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy and Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECI) offer early identification and early intervention for children birth through 21 years to assist children in becoming successful communicators. Easter Seals provides a free Ages and Stages Questionnaire to see if your child is on track for their milestones. The American Speech Language Association (ASHA) also provides information to assist families with knowing the signs.

Contact Easter Seals Greater Houston at 713-838-9050 for answers regarding your child’s development or learn more here.

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Running Past the Limits

My name is Jennifer Wright, PsyD and I am so happy to be part of the Easter Seals Greater Houston team. I started as a Harvey Case Manager over three years ago and will surely retire at ESGH! I now have the honor of working with clients through the Service Members, Veterans and Military-Connected Families Programs.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with West Nile Virus Encephalitis at age 40 that I wanted to run. The neurologist told me he wasn’t sure if I would ever roller blade or run again. I didn’t have my impulse control back yet…I told him, “Forget it! You don’t know who you are talking to. I am going to roller blade and run some day! Ridiculous!” I stormed out of the doctor’s office, wanting to proving him wrong. In that second, I made the decision to dedicate my daily life to helping people find hope.

Being sick kept me from being able to sit up and caused me to fall over in the shower. Though I had never been a runner before, these new obstacles made me want to run more than ever. I also began working at Easter Seals Greater Houston, loving that the organization brought individuals hope from every interaction. The agency exemplifies this in every interaction with clients, from our initial conversation at intake to follow through several months later.

I was inspired to run the Woodlands Marathon because there are families who no longer have loved ones that can run (death, injury, suicide etc…) or there are families whose kids need 24 hour care. At mile 18 and 22, I was so nauseous from the pain. I felt the tears down on my face- I kept telling myself…”your veterans and families with disabilities push through difficult moments every single day. They embrace this because their struggle never goes away. You breathe through it, in the same way they do. They can do it…you can do it- just like them!” I made it to the finish line thanks to the families who share their stories with me at Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Watch the incredible Jennifer Wright finish her race here! Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s programs that serve veterans, service members, children and adults with disabilities and their families.

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