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Days Of Caring

On Friday September 28th, ExxonMobil and Easter Seals Greater Houston Adult Services Program went on field trip to the Houston Zoo together as part of the United Way Greater Houston Day of Caring. We really couldn’t have asked for a better day as the weather was perfect, the animals were active and the friendships were forming. About twenty-five ExxonMobil employees volunteered as buddies to walk through the zoo with adults with disabilities from the Adult Services Program. Split up into groups of 5 participants with 5 ExxonMobil volunteers, they were off to explore. Following the one-mile trail, noted on the zoo map, the groups stopped to see all the animals that the Houston Zoo has to offer. Many of our adults said while they loved watching the elephants play and dunk each other in the water during bath time, they were also excited about meeting new people.  We were so delighted that ExxonMobil asked to attend the zoo outing with us. This outing would not have been successful without their planning and organizing help, as well as their hands-on participation.

The main focus of the program is to provide adults with disabilities with a safe environment to socialize, participate in activities and explore life-long personal growth. Community outings with organizations like ExxonMobil are important contributors to improving quality of life, social skills, fitness and so much more for our clients. If your organization is interested in planning an outing with our program, please contact Ashley Nichols at anichols@eastersealshouston.org. And like XOM – if you have matching funds for your staff volunteers hours it is 2 times the support! And 2 times the fun!

Thanks again ExxonMobil and United Way!

Ashley Nichols, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Services

 

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Thankful

My name is Johnny Adams and I have experienced the joy that Easter Seals fosters in three different ways. When I was around four years old, I went to their summer day camp, Camp Buckaroo, with my older sister Becky. My mom saw how much we loved it and sent us for a total of seven summers. It was consistently the highlight of my summer. Friday “Snow Days” with pizza (really amazing when its 100 degrees!), riding a big wheel in the gym, making goofy crafts with counselors that I always adored – these memories remain vivid to this day.  Even as a child without disabilities attending camp as a sibling, I always respected and appreciated the counselors who did so well with their campers. Their compassion was genuine and palpable.

I would forget about Easter Seals for a number of years after entering middle school. However, once I became a junior at St. Pius X High School, I began seeking a good fit for my mandatory service project. I discovered Camp Smiles – Easter Seals week-long overnight camp. I thought to myself, “What could be better than giving back to the organization that gave me countless childhood summer memories?” I was accepted as a volunteer and I had a wonderful week with my camper, Tom. I loved Camp Smiles and Tom so much that I volunteered for summer after my senior year as well. Indeed, Camp Smiles promotes powerful bonds between camper and counselor, fosters growth and confidence in the campers themselves, and creates powerful life lessons for volunteers.

Last March, I desperately sought a summer job. I knew the harsh economy would make this task difficult in itself, but my goals would be even harder to fulfill: I wanted to find a job I could be fulfilled by and enjoy. I eventually came across the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs internship list. Carefully reading each option, I came across Easter Seals and saw the contact was Erin Hauder, the camp director I had worked under as a volunteer at Camp Buckaroo! They graciously took me on and the rest is history. My boss’s boss would be the former camp coordinator, Christine Ellery, who still has pictures of me at Camp Buckaroo as a little squirt. She is a wonderful woman whose whole heart goes into her work daily. The other intern, Lindsey Holton, and I quickly became friends and a camp-leading dynamic duo. My other bosses, Erin Hauder and the now camp coordinator Betsy Keane, provided a wonderful work environment. It feels weird to call it work! Playing with kids at Camp Buckaroo and driving around a golf cart with camera taking pictures of our  incredible campers and volunteers at Camp Smiles were things I deemed as privileges, not obligations. Truly, I felt blessed daily to be working with such wonderful people for such a beautiful purpose.

For roughly half of my twenty years, Easter Seals has been a part of my life. Consistently it has provided programs rich in compassion, learning, and fun. I have no doubt that it has shaped me to be a better man, especially during my service as a volunteer and my summer as an intern. More importantly, Easter Seals routinely makes miracles in the lives of disabled children and their families. Words cannot describe the joy they have brought to parents who profoundly love their children, who deeply yearn to see them thrive. What a priceless gift! I am forever thankful for my experiences with Easter Seals.

by Johnny Adams, current TCU Sophomore

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