Tag Archives: coronavirus

Supporting Our Troops Here at Home

My name is Bryan Cream and I am a 100% Disabled Veteran of the U.S Army. I wanted to write and thank Easter Seals Greater Houston and all of their donors that help people like me. I know it’s cliché, but just saying thank you is not even close to being adequate. 

During the last 6 months my family has experienced several high stress situations: My father had a heart attack that they described as a “widow maker”; my mother hasn’t been able to walk for 6 months and through several doctors and tests it was discovered she had a mass on her spine and brain; my brother was diagnosed with Coronavirus and was in the hospital for over a week; my wife (who was told she was not going to be able to have children) found out she was pregnant (currently 17 weeks) and that is a huge blessing but also comes with many stresses; and my wife has lost many hours of work as well as being out of work for two weeks waiting for COVID-19 results.

I say all of this because I want to point out what Easter Seals Greater Houston and donors like you have helped me through. The financial assistance has allowed us to pay our mortgage and feel secure, even with everything happening around us. For a long time I have only seen the present and my circumstances for what they are. I still am reminded of the stress every day, but Easter Seals and donors like you have given me and my family a glimpse to a bright future. 

On top of everything else, I have been lucky enough to be able to receive training to train my dog Lucie to be a Service Dog. The training and support from Jennifer Wright has been nothing less than a blessing to my family and me. I have never seen anyone or any organization go to the lengths of helping someone the way Easter Seals and Dr. Wright have. I hope everyone that donates to Easter Seals realizes the impact they are having on individuals’ lives. It’s still an ongoing battle, but with all the support I know I will be able to get through it and one day be able to give back the way you do.

Thank you!

Bryan Cream

Easter Seals Greater Houston is proud to provide Service Members, Veterans and Military-Veterans with a wide variety of services including mental health, service dogs, financial coaching and more. Click here to support these crucial services.

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The Power of a Sticky Note

Sitting here the day before my 25th anniversary of working for Easter Seals Greater Houston and I am both amazed and bewildered at the same time.

…Amazed. Amazed because of our community of volunteers, donors, staff, foundations, corporate sponsors and partners and the amazing feat we just accomplished in the midst of a pandemic with our Walk With Me Event.

Bewildered…because of #StayAtHome, the Economy and oil and gas, hurricane season, protests, diversity, questions of inclusion, and yes even the murder hornets!

I think the two go hand in hand…at least in my world.  I think I am a sticky note! I have “stuck with” Easter Seals Greater Houston through thick and thin. I started when we had 30 employees, 3 maybe 4 programs, several small but meaningful events and a 1MM dollar budget.  We have evolved over the years into a 25MM dollar budget, more than 240 employees, 12 plus programs and 1 historic fundraiser called Walk With Me that just grossed over $776,000. You would think we are breathing a sigh of relief.  No, we will always be holding our breath.

In my 25 years, I truly thought that I had seen it all.  The fall of Enron (a lesson for all nonprofit organizations in Houston), Tropical Storm Alison, some great booms, a lot of busts, Katrina, Rita, Ike, Memorial Day Flood and every one thereafter, Harvey, Imelda, government budget cuts (over and over again to early intervention, Medicaid), all of which have had us on a steady learning curve.  We served the forgotten and the UN-able when it originally came to evacuation. We have a handle on that and we definitely have it down when it comes to emergency assistance.  Thankfully, we have developed some incredible partnerships and collaborations.  They are sticky notes too.  We have learned how to best serve the most vulnerable since we began our work in 1947…whew…then, COVID19, a completely new historic learning curve.

Thankfully, technology has evolved to the point where we can continue to do our work and our mission…virtual or not. Our staff and clients have always been aware of the ways in which technology can assist our clients. Which leads me to reflect on diversity, inclusion, and disability. I have read two extremely pertinent quotes in the last few days. The first – “Work from home was never a privilege for people with disabilities.” Think about that one for a hot minute. And, the second – “We all have a part in creating a more equal and just world.” 

When I started the percentage of donations supporting disability and mental health probably wasn’t even calculated because it really didn’t figure into the equation. Now we know, TODAY less than 5% of charitable giving is directed to disability.  Awareness of disabilities today is vast compared to 1995 in large part due to the increased understanding of the autism spectrum and because of social media.  We have always been proud of those that “stuck with us” and those numbers are thankfully much larger now. More sticky notes. Children I have watched grow up volunteering who are now going into disability law, therapeutic and social work. Even more of them, regardless of where they go, carry us in their hearts.  Carrying the message of diversity (and yes, disability fits in there) and inclusion wherever they go, which of course, brings us to today. AND, the companies – our sponsors and partners – that know that disability is a part of the diversity and inclusion conversation.  Employee Resource Groups, Corporate Social Responsibility – used to only be words – now they are actions.  TODAY I truly believe they will be even stronger actions.  Actions by all of us–individuals, parents, families, companies, volunteer groups, and schools.  

There you go. All in all a pad of sticky notes.  Some can lose their stickiness but we keep them maybe use a little tape to rearrange, some fall off to never be applied again, some stay on our desks forever and we don’t even see them, some have water stains, some are wrinkled or torn, and they are a beautiful variety of colors and sizes. Regardless of where you fall as a sticky note – thank you for being one of ours.  The list is long of thanks to our staff, volunteers, donors, corporations, walkers, caregivers, clients, collaborative partners, foundations. I hope in reading this you recognize yourself. 

The picture here is of Robert Ryan, one of our Ambassadors of Walk With Me…Virtually. He just graduated on to public school from the Caroline School! I think this picture says it all. You don’t have to stick with us, but we are so grateful that you do.  For that right now in this community in an extraordinary time, we cannot thank you enough. 

Huge thanks to our incredible Walk With Me Virtually Sponsors and PartnersProsperity Bank and their staff, WithMerci Foundation, Alvarez and Marsal, Robert & Janice McNair Foundation, TEAM Inc., Texas Children’s Hospital, and more for sticking right there with us!

Kelly Klein
Development Director
Easter Seals Greater Houston

Click here to learn how YOU can be a sticky note for Easter Seals Greater Houston.

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More Than a Transition – It is a Team Effort!

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Easter Seals Greater Houston has adapted to social distancing and other measures to slow down the spread of the disease by providing as many services as possible remotely for the people who come to us for help. Our staff in Transition and Employment Services have successfully provided all services virtually thanks to our partnership with Texas Workforce Solutions. 2020 marks one-hundred years since the federal vocational rehabilitation program was established. In normal times all job placement services, in fact all services, are carried out face-to-face with the job seeker in accordance federal regulations. This became impossible with schools, businesses, and state offices closed in March. TWS staff immediately set about the task of assuring that persons with disabilities continued to receive high-quality services from agencies like Easter Seals. This included completely changing rules and procedures to allow for remote services and relaxing other rules to make it easier for agencies to be paid and making our work with young adults and veterans possible.

DSC01505Through the entirety of #StayAtHome, we have received immeasurable support from individual TWS Counselors who are themselves adapting to new conditions by working from home with limited access to their offices. Without their help, we would not have been able to maintain contact with our clients and they would not have received the assistance they need. TWS support staff, also working from home, have kept the TWS system working which means we have the information and resources we need to help our mutual clients. This partnership has resulted in Easter Seals job placement staff helping over a dozen persons either gain employment or keep the job they have. Moving forward, we know that this shared experience between TWS and Easter Seals will mean better services for our clients, leading to a better quality of life for them and their families. Which is, after all, our mission at Easter Seals Greater Houston.

We celebrate successes large and small and want to congratulate four young adults with disabilities in particular. Beginning on March 3rd, four young men with Autism Spectrum Disorder began working at Chevron in an internship program that would, if they performed well, lead to full-time employment in Chevron’s IT Department. Chris, Luke, Shaye, and Steele were chosen from a pool of candidates that were screened and referred to Chevron by Potentia. At Chevron, they are assisted and coached by Robert Aranda, Easter Seals Greater Houston Employment Specialist. Robert also helped the interns establish eligibility for services from Texas Workforce Solutions. Chevron staff from within each intern’s section act as mentors and buddies to help them become a part of Chevron’s social family. During the course of the internships, Chevron, like many other businesses, began having their employees work from home in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This proved to be quite a challenge for most of the interns. Robert worked with them remotely to overcome their anxiety at their changed situation and develop routines that allowed them to complete their training and work assignments. Given that these circumstances are new for everyone, Robert had to come up with new ways to communicate and solve problems without being able to see the interns at their jobs. Robert became part guide – part cheerleader as would any coach. All of the interns worked very hard to overcome the difficulties working at home caused. All four successfully overcame all obstacles and, in the last few days, were given the opportunity to become a full-time part of Chevron’s workforce. They will make the transition from intern to employee during the second half of May. Robert will continue to help the new employees face their continuing challenges as they begin their careers as IT professionals at Chevron.

The lives of these young men and their families will forever be changed thanks to Texas Workforce Solutions and Chevron!

Learn more about our Transition and Employment Services.

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An Update from our CEO

We are Here (Virtually) For You

Therapist and her baby with headphones on

Learning Tele-Health!

Easter Seals of Greater Houston is here for you during this difficult time and because you are among our most valuable supporters, we want to assure you that we are here to help. With the Coronavirus (CoVid19) situation changing every day, our concerns are amplified with fears of how our community will be impacted. In all of our decades of serving military families, people with disabilities and vulnerable members of our community-we have become experts in what it takes to beat the odds. Over a month ago, we began adapting our services to keep our staff and clients safe while continuing to provide as many services as possible through tele-health and virtual meet-ups. Click here to see how we continue to support our clients and their families. We have compiled as many resources as possible on Covid19 and are keeping it as up to date as possible. Use BridgingApps.org, our award winning tech technology program, for an amazing amount of on-line resources and ways to stay connected and follow them on Facebook to see new ideas, and resources daily.

Like all families, businesses and charities, Easter Seals Greater Houston has already been hit really hard by the pandemic, by the government mandated benefits and even with huge aid being put in place by Congress, our agency is not eligible for many of the government supports. We expect even more health and financial damage before this is over. With that said, we are steadfast in our commitment to our clients, who need us now more than ever and we are committed to doing whatever we can to protect our employees, serve our clients and come out of this stronger than ever.   Our mission statement is, “Help. Hope. Answers.” The amazing, incomparable and unconquerable Easter Seals family will fulfill that mission of providing help, hope and answers to some of our most vulnerable neighbors during this difficult time and we are grateful to you for standing by us so that we have the resources to serve them.

Speaking of virtually.. We have also moved our Walk With Me Houston event scheduled for April 25th to #WWMVirtually as well. Please consider supporting us through the event. It will be a great way for you, your family, friends, co-workers and other social groups to interact, support the community, “do good” – great home school lesson, stay active safely and more! Follow our Facebook page for our Walk With Me Virtual Sign Up Happy Hour. Last but not least, we so appreciate our current sponsors and their continued effort and support!

If you don’t have the time to commit to walking virtually (and believe me we all understand) then please consider making a gift today to support Easter Seals Greater Houston and our programs, services, clients and their families. We depend on your stewardship and support.

Be well,

Elise Hough, CEO, Easter Seals of Greater Houston

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Walk With Me…Virtually: Walk, Stroll or Roll the Block!

Out of an abundance of caution and care for our clients, teams, sponsors, friends and family walkers and rollers, we’ve made the decision to reroute Walk With Me 2020 to a virtual event. 

This year, we invite you to: Walk With Me…Virtually: Walk, Stroll or Roll the Block!

How it works: We encourage you to register (if you haven’t already) and walk, stroll or roll around your own block daily, weekly and/or on the event day between now and April 25th. Of course, your safety comes first, but we also know that taking in a little bit of sunshine can help all of us during this difficult time!

As you walk, stroll or roll your block, be sure to take photos or videos…or even live stream your experience and use the hashtag #WWMVirtually and tag @EasterSealsGreaterHouston then encourage your friends and family to do the same to help support your (or their own) fundraising efforts.

Last year, 4,000 Houstonians were in attendance. With our virtual walk, we KNOW you can help us beat that!

Every “virtual” step you take helps connect veterans, children and adults with all types of disabilities to the services they desperately need.

How to register to walk, stroll or roll around your block!
*If you have already registered as a walker, you are automatically considered a virtual walker (or stroller or roller!). As such, you do not need to re-register.
*All we need is your help with spreading the word about Walk With Me…Virtually!
*If you’re new to our Walk With Me community, register as a virtual walker here!

How to encourage your friends to continue to help you in your virtual fundraising efforts:

  • As you walk, stroll or roll your block, be sure to take photos or videos…or even live stream your experience and use the hashtag #WWMVirtually and tag @EasterSealsGreaterHouston to encourage your friends and family to do the same to help support your fundraising efforts. You can even create a Facebook fundraiser to make it that much easier!
  • Ask friends and family to join your virtual team, create their own teams and challenge their peer networks (Scout troops, Mother’s Day Out, faith communities, volunteer groups and more) to do the same!
  • Click here for an updated email you can send to your friends and family to encourage continued donations to your virtual walker page!

Donate NOW to help us continue our life-changing work!

COVID-19 has hit Easter Seals and its clients, employees and fundraising efforts hard so we need your support in helping us reach our $1 million goal NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE. Your commitment will help ensure that Easter Seals can continue its mission of providing services for thousands of Houstonians living with all types of disabilities each year.

Donate to a walker to support Easter Seals Greater Houston today!

We look forward to virtually walking, strolling or rolling the block with you!

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