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The Debt We Owe Our Heros

Veterans are not a monolith. They possess a variety of talents and skills and needs after the epic storm that crashed and stalled over Houston in Aug of 2017.  Hurricane Harvey was a call to action and many Veterans responded valiantly putting themselves in harm’s way once again to assist their own families, their neighbors, and the community-at-large. 

They borrowed John-boats and utilized high clearance vehicles, expertly jimmying equipment for high water rescue. They guided the confused and grief-stricken with clear and simple instructions to pack a survival bag and abandon things that could not be transported to higher ground. They stood up distribution warehouses and procured supplies from a generous nation and efficiency and effectively pushed water bottles, diapers, and sanitation supplies to where they were needed most in this flooded city.

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 They rendered physical and psychological first aid with compassionate and comforting expertise. They applied training, insisted on teamwork, established chains of command and networked with over-saturated emergency response systems. They warned us of the various toxic exposures in water-born illnesses, insect carried diseases and predicted the rapid growth of mold between brick and sheetrock. When they faced obstacles, they engaged in creative problem solving to invent new ways to overcome.

Technology-assisted them including Easter Seals Greater Houston’s BridgingApps program. Facebook and Instagram, walked talkie apps, even Pinterest crowdsourced ideas and speed help around a city that knew we had to help ourselves, just as we knew we depended upon each other for our literal survival. Websites were born that matched people who needed help mucking and gutting with volunteers ready to get to work clearing a path to recovery. As mountains of debris piled on curbsides, rotting in the blazing sun, the next phase of the disaster began. Once the urgency subsided, and the adrenaline supply was exhausted, aspects of community-wide post-traumatic stress became evident. 

And our Veterans suffered from familiar foes of fatigue and survivor’s guilt, hypervigilance and insomnia, nightmares and relationship turmoil, numbness and self-neglect. They were triggered by the ever-present helicopter traffic that reminded them of the sounds of war. They were triggered by cramped sleeping quarters in large rooms filled with cots and chaos.  As the immediate aftermath of the disaster waxed, Veterans of the Storm named Harvey eventually went home to their own personal disasters, that were very real whether or not their own houses were damaged by the slowly receding muddy waters that had engulfed the city. 

We owe a debt of thanks to the heroes that walk among us in civilian dress. Veterans hide in plain sight but still carry the weight of duty and profound responsibility to serve and protect this nation.  We owe them more than simple gratitude.  

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ESGH was and is proud to be at the forefront with them through Harvey and our Harvey Recovery work thanks to our community, Save The Children, The Mayor’s Fund, Americares, Freddie Mac, Simmons Foundation and so many more. (https://www.eastersealshouston.org/Programs/harvey-heroes.html) AND we are proud to be able to continue offering our veterans programs and services to our current and retired military – through our #TexasVeteransandFamilyAlliance, our #mentalhealth program and so much more as well as continuing in our efforts for Harvey Housing recovery.

Amy Harkins, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Veterans Program and Harvey Recovery, Psychologist

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Jason’s Journey

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Jason has been working at the Dollar Tree store on North Fry Road for the past year and a half. At Dollar Tree, Jason works as a Stocker. He stocks the snack chips, soft drinks and paper items like paper towels, napkins and facial tissue. Jason also helps out with keeping the store clean as he cleans the shelves and the perishable items coolers and empties trash.Jason F 2 IMG_0047 (2)

Recently, Jason started volunteering at Katy Christian Ministries in the food pantry. Jason says he loves to work and likes helping others.

When not at work, Jason loves to watch movies and go the church with his family.

Ron Taylor his Transition Specialist at ESGH says Jason is amazing to work with, ready to learn, on time and happy to be where he is appreciated.  Ron says he looks forward to his coaching days with Jason and that it reminds him of why he loves what he does for young adults with disabilities who want to enter the employment sector.

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Ron Taylor, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Transition Program

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Making the Impossible Possible

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Making the Impossible Possible Involves Math

Hugging your child             Going to school                             Flying

Camping with Family       Sleeping through the night       Going to an Astros game

What do these all have in common?

Veterans and their family members did these things when they were involved in therapy.

For us at Easter Seals, we want to help you create the life you want to live. This means what you think is impossible might be possible if you are willing to do the work, use your strengths, and team up with one of us to make it a reality. I can tell you that none of the people who accomplished those goals above thought they could do it. They were isolated at home. They had spent years wanting to do something different. One Veteran would say “I feel like life is passing me by”. They did it! Not overnight, but they worked at it and stayed connected. Doors opened. They were able to seize opportunities to do something new with people they care about and by themselves. How do I describe the surprise and relief these Veterans and family members experienced? Let’s try . . .

Imagine walking into a room and something you have wanted is right there. It’s yours. You might not trust it at first, but then you settle into believing you can have it. You realize you have it. That’s it. That is the feeling those Veterans and families had. Surprise then disbelief and finally Relief. You can have this.

Something Important to You    +       Team Work       +      Effort       =   Creating Your Life

Let’s see what we can make happen together.

You can reach us at 346-330-3859 or veterans@eastersealshouston.org

Veterans Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston 

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Kickin off Summer with Camps!

Our Summer camps kick off this week and we want you to meet the awesome Easter Seals Camp Interns!

Hi everyone! My name is Lindsay Veech and I’m a rising senior at St. Agnes Academy.  I’m thrilled to be a part of the Easter Seals team this summer! You can ask my friends and family, my excitement for this job has been the only thing I talk about lately… I am especially looking forward to meeting new people and making many new friends. LVA- camp I think it’s really special to be given this opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives.  I truly believe that there is something to be learned from kids with disabilities.  For me personally, working with Easter Seals and children who have disabilities has changed my view on life.  These children taught me to be more understanding, patient, and kind to everyone who crosses my path.  I believe these kids can teach our community that no matter how many obstacles you will face, the list of successes you will achieve is always twice as long, because you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

– Lindsay Veech, Easter Seals Greater HoustonCamp Intern 

Hello y’all! My name is Ethan Glass. This will be my fifth summer being a part of Easter Seals camps, and my second summer as an intern. Next year I will be attending UT Austin to study psychology with hopes of becoming a therapist. Through my entire school-year, I have been eagerly awaiting Camp Smiles! Not only is it an incredibly fun time, it also gives me the opportunity to be a part of an amazing group of unique people. The bonds I make with the campers, volunteers, and my coworkers have been the basis of my favorite memories. Camp intern

Children with disabilities give us all the opportunity to witness first hand that “different” is not even close to the same as “less than.” Just by being themselves, they show that having a disability is never the most interesting thing about them. We can learn that making judgements based on ability is extremely naïve. The children I have worked with have shown me time and time again that their ability to spread happiness is never hindered by a diagnosis.

– Eathan Glass, Easter Seals Greater HoustonCamp Intern 

 

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Growth

As Spring comes to an end, I am struck by the growth happening all around us. Trees are full of leaves and flowers bloom bringing sparks of light to our landscape. This is the enticing side of growth. The other side of growth is stressful, stark, and frustrating. It is a landscape created by the traffic and construction you pass as numerous roadways are modified.

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At Easter Seals, we have been going through on our own growing period. The Veterans Mental Health team has attended trainings on Acceptance and Commitment training (ACT), Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), Sensation Awareness Focused Technique (SAF-T), Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM), and Body Mind Skills. We are committed to continuing to learn to meet the needs of those who seek our services. We want people to have options.

ESGH is happy to announce that we are offering individual and couples counseling through a secure tele-mental health platform. You can be at home, in your car, or wherever is convenient and meet with your therapist. No travel required.

We have launched groups all around town to help individuals build resilience, relax, and build community with each other.

Growth, like life, involves both stress and beauty. We want to help you navigate your growth. Tell us how . . .

Call 346-330-3859 or email veterans@eastersealshouston.org to talk about your desire for growth.

Dr. Cristy Gamez-Galka, Easter Seals Greater HoustonVeterans Program

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Embracing the New

“I did it.  I found his grave.  I talked with him for a long time.  There was no rush.  I gave him a cigarette right there on his headstone and we smoked and talked.  I got to say things that I have been waiting thirty years to say. It’s been thirty years almost to the day since I saw him. I told him that I am sorry I wasn’t there for him that night.  I told him that I know now it was not my fault that he died. 20190519 R.L. headstone image I have been carrying that around for a long time.  I realize that I can finally let that go.  I got the sense that he was there with me and I heard him say, “Just remember me.”  I know that he wants me to remember how he was a good friend and remember the good times that we had together.  It took a lot for me to touch his gravestone. I felt a wave of anxiety come over me.  And I stayed there until that feeling was gone.  At the end, I stood at attention and gave a salute to him.  I understand better now that I need to get out more, stop isolating.  I can open up and be myself.  I am able to say to myself, I want a life and I gotta step out and do that.  And I know that therapy has helped me.  It has helped to know that my ESGH therapist is rooting for me.  She helped me face my past.  At this point in my life, I am ready to embrace the new.”

Robert L.

Easter Seals Greater Houston, Veterans Mental Health Program

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Love is All Around at Family Day Out

FDO pic 2My name is Emily Padora and I am interning with Easter Seals Greater Houston this Spring. A few months ago, I had the privilege of putting together activities for our campers to do at Family Day Out. Since it was so close to Valentine’s Day, I related the entire day to all things Valentine-y. We started out the day dyeing rice red, pink, and purple to mix together for a fun sensory item to play with. Then, we all gathered together in the gym for an exciting game of ‘Musical Hearts’, where we made silly faces and performed fun movements. Later, we relaxed with a snack and short Valentine’s Day kid-friendly video. We ended the day with some playtime outside, where some campers decided to engage in a fun game of baseball, some ran around with their awesome volunteers, and others just chilled out by the swings. ESGH Family Day Out is meant to be a fun and safe environment for children with disabilities and their siblings to hangout on a Saturday morning while their parents and/or caregivers can take some time to themselves. We put together a fun-packed schedule for campers that allows for room to engage in activities that interest them. I loved being a part of the FDO program and I look forward to the next one!

 

Emily Padora, Easter Seals Greater Houston Intern

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