Tag Archives: Dixon Center

“Ideas Worth Spreading” …Corporations & Communities Supporting Veterans

If you’ve watched one of the viral TED talk videos on YouTube, you know their tag line is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” At Easter Seals of Greater Houston, we also think we have ideas worth spreading and ours are focused on collaboration. Being the recipient of a 2016 Texas Veteran + Family Alliance (TV + FA) grant, our goal is to improve the quality of life for Texas Veterans and their families. By working hand in hand with proven Veteran Service Organizations, we are able to have an exponential impact on the community.

We decided to have two large Convenings that would allow us to improve the communication and collaboration of mental health and supportive service in the greater Houston area. Our first convening included Veteran Service Organizations, Mental Health professionals, Veterans and Corporate Partners. This diverse group was chosen so we could demonstrate to all the groups how each one was a vital part of the solution. The event featured an amazing singer for the anthem, Game Show style vignettes to introduce language and culture, break-out sessions that included using technology and apps, features for our partners, nationally recognized speaker COL (ret) David Sutherland of The Dixon Center and a catered lunch.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and there have only been two looming questions for Easter Seals of Greater Houston: When is the next one and can we make the event longer? It seems we have found some great ideas worth sharing and we are truly changing the way that everyone views mental health and veterans services. Our next Convening will be June 13th at Combined Arms.  We invite all greater Houston corporations and businesses interested in supporting veterans to join us at the Convening and learn how hiring Veterans could be amazing for your business!  Please contact Tim Stroud at TStroud@eastersealshouston.org or 713-838-9050 for more information.

Tim Stroud, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Veteran Initiative Coordinator

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What Will Your Biggest Challenge Be?

Have you ever been so close to others that you would do anything for them? I mean really anything – like follow their guidance no matter what, walk with them into danger, risk injury or death to achieve something. You may have thought of your family. Whomever you thought of, consider yourself fortunate because this is the same commitment and loyalty the men and women of our military demonstrate in their service. For the family members of active duty, reserve, and prior military service members, theirs is the same dedication – sending their loved one off to danger and potential injury, knowing they’ll miss the big things like births and first days of school, and the little things like dinner around the table and watching TV together. Reunions with their service member are joyful – yet also filled with other challenges such as fitting back in, re-establishing the routine, and re-connecting. Service members come back knowing there are some things their closest family members will never understand.

This may seem like an uphill challenge, but you are not alone. The Easter Seals Veterans Program is here to help. Easter Seals mission is to offer life-changing solutions to people with disabilities and their families and to Veterans with or without disabilities so they can live, learn, work, and play in their community. What does this mean to you? Together, Easter Seals Greater Houston and Easter Seals Dixon Center are making this a reality for Veterans transitioning back into civilian life. The Easter Seals Veterans Program aims to help active duty, reservists, Veterans and their family members connect to the resources they need. If you are interested in starting a group to share information or for support, I can also help you.

My name is Cristy Gamez-Galka and I am the coordinator of the Easter Seals Veterans Program. I am a licensed psychologist, I am eager to share and learn about resources, and start new groups throughout the area. You can reach me to discuss your needs at cgamez-galka@eastersealshouston.org or at 713-838-9050 ext. 371.

Cristy Gamez-Galka, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Program Coordinator

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Inspired to Give

For the holiday season, we wanted to highlight some extraordinary stories about people inspired to give.  We hope these gifts of hope and generosity move you as much as they moved us…

I  was so excited that Elise, the CEO of ESGH, extended the invitation to me to blog here.  Many charities have a difficult time figuring out how to work together because they are concerned that combining efforts may drive potential supporters to another cause.  Fortunately that is not the case with Easter Seals of Houston or Boot Campaign!

I am Heather Sholl, a wife, a mother, a business owner and as it turns out, an accidental Co-Founder of a 501(c)3 charity known as Boot Campaign.   I say accidental, because my girlfriends and I, the other co-founders, never intended to have a nationally recognized charity that challenged us to make room on our proverbial plates for 1.4 million men and women we had never met.

My dear friend and now business partner, Sherri Reuland, read Lone Survivor by retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and was moved to share it with as many of her friends as she could.  I was one of those friends, as were Ginger Giles, Leigh Ann Ranslem, and Mariae Bui, now the Co-Founders of Boot Campaign .  After reading the book we were all enlightened to the sacrifices that the men, women and families of our military make on our behalf, every day when they go to work.  We were inspired to find a way to show the gratitude that we felt and decided to wear combat boots to a military benefit concert in Tyler, Texas.  Since Mariae just happens to be a wildly talented photographer, we asked her to document our experience at the concert.  We wore our own combat boots from the local army supply store and asked the artists who were performing to wear the extra pairs we brought.  We are no strangers to organizing a ruckus, so we asked anyone and everyone at the concert who would participate, to take a break from the fun to ‘”put themselves in the shoes of the military” and let us capture it with the camera.   We giggled together as high-falutin’ East Texas donors with rhinestone studded cowboy boots and band members with Mohawks agreed to don our combat boots for mini photo shoots.

After the giggles, the stories and the hangovers had long passed, we received phone calls from a few impressive people.  The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, and the music management company for Joe Nichols, had heard about our photos (and our enthusiastic antics) and were interested in participating in “that boot thing”.  We had no idea where we were headed, but we knew we were on to something! Before we could form a plan we had the support of a few people we never thought we’d meet much less that we’d be wrangling dirty socks and used boots for!

All silliness aside, there is no better time for me to appreciate the effort I put in to making a little extra space on my plate to give back to something bigger than myself.   With Veteran’s Day in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I can’t help but think about how grateful I am for everything I do not have to do, yet the opportunity to have done so much.  No matter what you have a passion for, what you are moved by or what you wish you could change, don’t be afraid to make a little extra room on your plate this year.  –And I don’t mean for turkey!  You’ll be amazed how far a thank you can go.

Heather Sholl, Co-Founder, Boot Campaign

Nationally, Easter Seals is the largest non-governmental provider of services to veterans.  To learn more about this work, connect to Dixon Center here.  If you are inspired to help, click here to learn more or to donate.

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