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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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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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Adult Program Gives Participant Sense of Pride

Meet one of Easter Seals Greater Houston’s awesome young adult clients. Every week she participates in our Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities (LEAD) Young Adult Day Program. During the LEAD Young Adult Day Program this non-verbal woman with autism, along with other participants blog2ages 18 to 30, partakes in activities focused on enriching life skills and social skills as well as fun recreational activities. During LEAD, we incorporate her communication device as much as possible; while the rest of the time, we speak to each other through eye contact and gestures. Her mom continually says that this is the only place where she feels comfortable enough to leave her daughter.

We love to see how being in the LEAD program has enriched our participants’blog1 lives. For example, this young woman loves to have things in their place, such as, crayons cannot have wrappers on them, water cannot sit in a cup for too long, and shoes come off as soon as it is allowed. One day during Easter Seals Greater Houston’s LEAD at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, we made hats (seen in picture) and instead of ripping off the decorations as soon as she got home, she put it on her head and paraded it around. We provided her the opportunity to create something (with a hot glue gun, I might add) that gave her a sense of pride and independence. This hat was made last year and I am told it sits on her dresser, with every ball, flower, and sequence still intact.

We are proud of all of the growth that our Adults experience by attending Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities Day Program. We have two Adult Day Program groups, ages 18-30 and another ages 30 and up. We also serve our clients through a variety of other services. Please reach out to Lindsey Holton at LHolton@eastersealshouston.org for more information on how you and your loved ones can get involved!

Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Programs

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The Caroline School is looking for a Teacher!

If 2013-pj-dayyou are seeking a job that gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and their families and be an important part of a team of caring professionals, look no further than The Caroline School! Join Easter Seals Greater Houston in our mission to provide services that meet the physical, cognitive and social needs of children with development delays and their families.

We would love to work with someone who is:

  • Experienced in the field (preferably of Education, however other fields will be considered based on particular involvement with children/students)
  • Certified to teach (SpEd specialization recommended, but not required)
  • Passionate about their work
  • Able to be part of a team
  • A creative and flexible thinker regarding educational approaches
  • Available as soon as possible

We are an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission company and offer:image5

  • A super supportive team and working environment
  • On-going training
  • Benefits
  • Optional full or partial Summers
  • An HISD calendar year
  • 5 days of additional Paid days off

If you have the qualities listed above, please send your resume and quick blurb about yourself to the Educational Director of The Caroline School, Tabitha Hernandez, at THernandez@eastersealshouston.org

Tabitha Hernandez, The Caroline School, Easter Seals Greater Houston

 

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Camp Friends are the Best Friends

Dear Carolina & Juana,

Because Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Camp Smiles changed my life so much I feel I need to let you know how 4 years ago, my first year, you had to convince my mom & dad to let me come to camp at all. My parents tried to find every reason possible that I shouldn’t be allowed to come and told CAnna 3hristine & Betsy why it would be better for me to stay home. All they would say to my parents was, “No problem – we can handle it.” My mom told me she cried every day because she missed me so much the first year I was at camp – ridiculous, right?!?!

Fast forward 3 years and I’m now having to say “see you later” to my Camp Smiles family… My mom is crying for a different reason this year – she knows I have met 2 of the most important people – you two, Carolina & Juana – who have been my counselors every year I’ve been here. Both of you have helped me become more confident in who I am. You have given me a reason to be Anna 1happy every summer because I know you accept me for who I am and make me feel understood and important. You have become more like big sisters – a part of my family – more than just camp counselors. And even though I won’t be back at Camp Smiles again as a camper I’m praying our paths continue to cross forever. You are two of the most amazing people and I hope all of your dreams come true.

Thank you to every friend I’ve made and every counselor who took the time to get to know me at camp.  I’m better for having all of you in my life.  I love you all and am grateful for all of you!

Love,

Anna, Camp Smiles Camper, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Anna 2

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Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month…not to mention National Mobility Awareness Month

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility!

We are continuing to strive to improve and grow to be the best therapy practice we can be. With that mission in 2015 Children’s Therapy received Outpatient ctp mountainRehabilitation Facility status from Medicare and Medicaid of Texas with accreditation through the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. We successfully underwent review of our standards of practice to maintain our accreditation. Advancement to facility status allows us to expand our client base to rehabilitation as well as habilitation therapy and to demonstrate to our stakeholders, community and physicians that we are functioning at the highest degree of standards of practice.

The goal of our practice is always to foster improvements in the lives of the children we serve and their families. Here is Michael’s story.

“Michael has been receiving services at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy for three years now.   When Michael started in the program, he could hardly speak more than a handful of words, was not able to walk up and down stairs & was unable to perform daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, etc. In just a three year time period all of that has dramatically changed.

Michael speaks in three and four word sentences now. This has been such a blessing to our family as it has greatly reduced his frustration from being unable to communicate. Whereas before, we had to guess what he might want for a snack and present different options until he said the word yes, he can now tell us. Michael has had wonderful speech therapists while at Easter Seals & his success is greatly attributable to their hard work & perseverance.

ctp cutie pieMichael was born with Hypertonia which means it is harder for him to do physical activities for a long period of time; his body gets tired more quickly.   When Michael first started physical therapy at Easter Seals he couldn’t take a step up onto a curb without holding on to someone’s hand. He now climbs up stairs on his own.   He is also able to participate in activities which involve a greater level of endurance. This has improved his ability to socialize and his overall quality of life.

Michael never received occupational therapy prior to starting therapy at Easter Seals Children’s Therapy. Things such as getting your own glass of water, bathing yourself & getting dressed independently are skills which as adults we take for granted. These however, have taken Michael significant effort to master & thanks to his occupational therapist he continues to become more independent and able to care for his basic daily needs.”

This is what we do at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility.

Mary Dawson, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Program Director, Children’s Therapy

 

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New Young Adult Program!

My name is Ashley Davis. I am the new Assistant Program Coordinator for the Young Adult LEAD (Life Enrichment for ashley pic 1Adults with Disabilities) Program at Easter Seals Greater Houston.

A little about me- although I was born in California,  I tend to call myself a Texan since I moved to Texas when I was 4 years old.  Recently, San Marcos, TX was my home as I was finishing my degree in Recreation Administration at Texas State University. My parents live in both Dallas and Fort Worth so I have lived in five wonderful cities that Texas has to offer. Houston has quickly become one of my favorite cities as the diversity here is incomparable. I am happy to say that I have been working with people with different abilities for ten years. This all began as I was an aid in the special needs classroom in 8th grade. It was then that I fell in love with working with this population. In high school, I helped to found an organization that helped students with and without special needs to form friendships in a safe environment. The past five summers have been consumed with camp as I have worked for Camp Summit, in Argyle, TX, and Camp For All, in Burton, TX.

ashley pic 2I cannot wait to get March started as we have will have had one month of our newest program up and running. My goal is to help this program grow into its fullest potential by planning it  full of educational and fun events for our young adults. We want to see this help our young adults grow, learn and have fun!  Please email me at ADavis@eastersealshouston.org or call me at 713-838-9050 if you are interested or want more information about the program, volunteering with the program or any other info!

Ashley Davis,  Assistant Program Coordinator, Young Adult Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston.

 

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