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Military Financial Wellness With Freddie Mac

Set any New Year’s Resolutions to help build and maintain better credit? We can help!  Take advantage of our webinar series with Easterseals and Freddie Mac – build and maintain better credit, and prepare for successful long-term home ownership! paull roberts 2

Did you know that Veterans are more likely to have credit card challenges? We meet countless Veterans and military families facing difficult situations, which is why we’ve created more resources and options for military members looking to achieve financial wellness. Check out our video series below!

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Coming Full Circle – Volunteer to Staff Member

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Katherine von Haefen is a long-time United Way Greater Houston staff person.  She was at United Way when I was in high school, and she was in charge of the Kids Way Program then.  Kids Way was most definitely the thing that taught me to love volunteering in high school, and really instilled in me the idea of lifelong volunteerism.  Fast forward to today, and Katherine’s high school aged daughter, Alison, volunteered for Camp Buckaroo for the first time this summer.  Alison had a wonderful time and is now thinking about making working with people with disabilities her career, as many of our amazing teen volunteers do.  She’s already reached back out to Kenzie Richard, Easter Seals Camp Program Coordinator, to ask about volunteering during the school year!  It’s neat to think that Katherine was around when I discovered my love for volunteering, and now I’m around when her daughter’s making the same discovery – totally coming full circle.

Christine Ellery, Program Director Easter Seals Greater Houston.

*Easter Seals Greater Houston is proud to have been a partner of United Way GH since the days of it being called The Community Chest… a very long time! UWGH has enabled ESGH to serve so many more clients – thousands and thousands – through their and their donors support allowing us to ensure family stability, create growth, independence, and more.

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How ECI Changed Brianna’s Life

Brianna was 17 months old when she had her first Easter Seals Early Childhood Intervention evaluation.  Mom had made the referral as she had concerns with stiffness, lack of use of the left hand, and Brianna not walking.  During the evaluation, Brianna was inquisitive, yet determined.  She wanted to do things her way and she was not about to let the ECI team tell her what to and she made sure the ECI team knew this.  During the initial evaluation, the Early Childhood Intervention team noticed that Brianna was using her right side more than her left side and asked mom about Brianna’s medical history.  According to mom, pregnancy and labor were uncomplicated and her pediatrician had never expressed any concerns. 2019 ECI SW picBrianna qualified based on delays in several areas of development, but primarily motor functions.  Due to the ECI team’s concern with Brianna using her right side more than the left, she was referred to a neurologist and it was then that Brianna was diagnosed with hemiparesis.  At first, mom did not fully understand the diagnosis, but the ECI team made sure to provide her with information that she was able to understand.  As the therapists and EIS worked with Brianna, they quickly realized that Brianna was bright and very determined.  The ECI providers were constantly building on Brianna’s strengths in order to get her to meet new goals and mom was happy with the progress Brianna was making.  Mom always made sure she never missed a session, even when she was pregnant with her second child, and if she was not able to present for Brianna’s sessions, she made sure step dad was present.  Fast forward to Brianna graduating from ECI at age 3.  Brianna is walking, talking, following directions, and pointing to pictures, body parts, colors, and shapes.  During Brianna’s last session, mom expressed her gratitude for all her ECI service providers Priscilla Lewis, Alejandra Torres, Lindsay Wild, Christy Lewis, Judy Rodriguez, and Lillie Medellin.  Mom expressed how grateful she was to ECI as she had learned a lot during the time she was present for the therapy sessions.  She further stated that when Brianna was initially diagnosed with hemiparesis, she faulted herself and felt guilty for Brianna having been diagnosed, but with the help of all her ECI team, she quickly learned it was not her fault and she learned the many ways she could help Brianna.  Mom also stated she felt supported throughout Brianna’s participation in ECI and had it not been for ECI, they might have never gotten a diagnosis for Brianna which would have meant that Brianna would not have made the progress she made while in ECI.   Brianna is now happily participating in a PPCD program with Alief ISD and we are sure she is just as determined as she was during her ECI participation.  

Easter Seals Greater Houston, SouthWest ECI Team

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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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