Tag Archives: Houston

My Independence Day

Dear Easter Seals Greater Houston,

I want to express my feelings about training my service dog puppy, Just Bob, during these extreme conditions, and with my limited physical abilities. Without the Easter Seals Veterans Service Program and partner, My Service Dog, being available to provide safe environments, leadership, and guidance, I would have given up by now.

My life has changed in more ways than I could have imagined having this highly intelligent puppy in it. He is also a member of my family and they feel the same about him. We all work together to teach him, love him, and correct him. In just over a couple of months, Just Bob has enhanced my life, and the lives of my entire family. I honestly cannot believe how much he means to me and how I could not do without him.

In the beginning I was wondering how I could train Just Bob from a puppy, build a strong foundation and teach a full-blown service dog. It was only possible thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston and My Service Dog’s constant communication, assistance, and guidance.My Independence Day

A perfect example of your team’s dedication and commitment is the photo attached to this email. There was ‘no way’ I was going to get into my wheelchair and let someone push me around a nature path where other people could see.  I am glad that she finally convinced me because it was a great training session, the weather was beautiful, and Just Bob learned how to maneuver with my wheelchair like never before. The outing did me good, taught both of us so much, and wore Just Bob out!

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart,

Blaine C.

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Veteran Service Dog Program.

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The Caroline School is More Than a Place

To be honest, it was a little heartbreaking for the entire Easter Seals Greater Houston staff when we realized that remainder of The Caroline School’s year was going to have to be completed at a distance. It is such a wonderful joy to see these kids when we are at work. Even though only a fraction of our staff are part of The Caroline School team, we all benefit from hearing them laughing and playing during recess. Throughout the school year we can see how their education and friendships are blooming. It’s a daily reminder of what our programs are accomplishing all over the greater Houston area.

Our School Director and Teachers work hard day in and day out to make sure that our students get an engaging and tailored education. It is impressive, but not surprising, that these incredible educators went into overdrive making sure that the remaining virtual school year was held to the same high standard. We are proud of our teaching team as well as the parents who became “quaranteachers” in this midst of this difficult time.

This year has taught us that The Caroline School is not just a place, it is a community deeply committed to giving each student the chance to thrive in both their education and relationships. We look forward to the day that our students are all in the same place, but know that in some ways we are always together. Let’s celebrate our beloved students who made the most of the virtual school year! Thank you to everyone who shared pictures so that we could all enjoy your amazing accomplishments!

Our teachers made individualized learning boxes for weekly drop-off and pick-up. These boxes included art, movement, music, CVI adapted visuals and books, early academic tasks, and literacy!

Our families and staff had video sessions with interactive documents and tele-teaching.

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There was a massive amount of mutual appreciation. Parents sent videos and messages to our staff and teachers made a “Quaranteacher Supply Mug” filled with coffee and chocolate for our parents.

We hosted virtual hangouts so that The Caroline School students and teachers could have extra time to laugh and reconnect.Virtual Hangout

And of course we celebrated graduation! Congratulations Liam, we will miss you dearly!Liam Graduation

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Caroline School

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MOST of All!

Teamwork makes the dream work!  Teens with cerebral palsy and volunteers (many of them long-time volunteers – thanks, friends!) had a great time last month at Easter Seals Camp MOST Weekend Camp – riding horses, doing archery, and challenging themselves at the tower – and learning about self-awareness, advocacy, and teamwork during the jam sessions. Camp Most pic 1 This past weekend the crew worked together to line up PVC pipe and get a marble from one end to the other.  Kudos to teen, Sebastian, for stepping up and leading the teens and getting everyone started on a plan.  The teens got the ball rolling and had a resounding success!

Kenzie Richard, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Program Coordinator

Camp Most pic 2

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ESGH Group Activities Statement (COVID-19)

2020 CoVid Cancellation

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March 3, 2020 · 8:20 am

Together We Did It!

First, as a family we’d like to say a big thank you to the Easter Seals Early Childhood Intervention program team that has been part of the process over the almost 3 years working with our twins, Noah and Roman. Together WE DID IT! WE are doing it! They are achieving so much and catching up to developmental milestones. It’s been wonderful to see them thriving and meeting goals.ECI blog for february pic 3

Noah and Roman were born at 30 weeks unexpectedly. As a parent that can be a scary thing not knowing the outcome of your babies. I did not have the opportunity to see, nor hold my babies once they were both delivered and they stayed in the NICU for about 2 months and received therapy services thru the hospital. Luckily, we were referred to Easter Seals ECI for the opportunity to have continued care for our little guys. Thru ECI we have been given more of the tools necessary to help our boys develop and grow.

Our service coordinator, Roshanda, has been very helpful in educating us about options we have for different services thru Easter Seals and ECI and making sure needs have been met. She always has open communication with me and answers questions or concerns we may have. Roshanda is very pleasant to work with and I feel like she genuinely cares.

The twins both started physical therapy with Melissa. It was a bittersweet moment being discharged from Easter Seals Houston’s PT services BUT it was a blessing they reached all their goals and physical developmental milestones! Thank you Melissa!

The boys have been receiving Easter Seals Houston’s occupational therapy services with Gumaro. We thank you Gumaro for getting the boys on track.  Always having patience with them during the good days and the bad days.

Speech Therapy through Easter Seals is so much fun for Noah and Roman most of the time(if they’re in a good mood) the vocabulary has gone from grunts and crying to pointing, using single words, 2 and even some 3 word phrases. They definitely like to show off that they can communicate with mom and the family now. Thank you Tate! Also thank you to Michelle during SLP sessions with Noah when he had a tongue tie. You were so helpful to us. You introduced him with his 1st favorite book “Never Touch a Dragon” which he still loves.

The twins also receive SST (Specialized Skills Training) with Lakeisha. They have so much fun with all the therapists, but they really enjoy Lakeisha. They don’t even realize she’s working with them and think it is play time the whole session! ECI blog for february pic 2

You all have watched our little guys have their best days and worst days. Thank you to the team of everyone who has helped us, help them, along the way thus far! These little guys have come a long way and the support and services thru Easter Seals ECI I truly feel like has gotten them on track to where they are now!

Thank you so much!

-Noah, Roman and Family

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There Will Never Be Enough ” Thank You’s”

Our baby, Nicolas was born with Arthrogryposis, this condition causes many joints to be stiff and crooked at birth. This was a surprise since the doctor didn’t catch this in the ultrasounds.  It was a pill hard to swallow as every parent expects their baby to be healthy. Nicolas was a tight little ball who could not stretch out. The Arthrogryposis on Nicolas affected him in his elbows, wrists, 10 fingers, knees, and complex clubfeet. The doctors weren’t sure if he was going to be able to walk. He was in need of a lot of medical care including surgeries, cast, and therapy.

We heard about Easter Seals Greater Houston and their program called Early Childhood Intervention that could help us give therapy to Nicolas from home. We called and after a few weeks, they were at home making the first evaluation. After this evaluation, they told us Nicolas qualified and they would start coming to our home for PT, OT, and ST.

Every single lady from this program has changed our lives in so many ways. They have shown this love for Nico since the day they met him. They were at my house every week since my son was 2 months old until 3 years old.

1The OT therapy started with DeeDee, she is a very sweet lady who won’t stop smiling. Nico was so happy to see her. She helped Nico with his hands, shoulders, elbows, and wrists doing stretching. She taught Nico to use his fingers to grab toys, small balls, push bottoms, and play with his cars. She also did stretching on a big ball. She became a friend of our family. She brought us hope.

The PT started with Melanie. She helped Nico with stretching his lower body. She helped us when we were having problems with Nico’s braces. She helped Nico sit and start bearing weight, she even put Nico in his first gait trainer.

After that, we had to move to Houston. The ECI program rescheduled and reassigned within Easter Seals and did everything for us and after a couple of weeks, they started coming to our new apartment.

The PT continued with Cristy. My family will never forget this lady. When Nico was born the doctors weren’t sure if he was going to walk. She helped Nico in so many ways. She made him stronger. She was always very energetic and happy. She helped Nico walk his first steps on his walker. And then the unimaginable happened. She said Nico was ready to walk by himself. So Nico took his first steps with her at 20 months old. I have that memory in my mind like it was yesterday. Everybody was so happy and in tears. It was the best moment in our lives. We are so thankful for her. After that she taught Nico to go up and down small steps. She taught Nico to kick a ball. She taught Nico to go from a sitting position to standing. She will be always a special person in our lives.

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The OT continued with Sherry. She helped Nico with fine motor skills. Nico got better grabbing things. Sherry also taught Nico colors, numbers, and animal names. She was always bringing new toys to keep Nico learning new things every therapy session.

For ST, both speech pathologists were great teaching Nico how to blow bubbles and saying new words like pop, mom and daddy.  They read books to Nico and played with him to teach him even more new words.

We moved again into a new house and with the move, we again got new therapists within Easter Seals.

Lisa started with Nico for OT. She always said Nico was super smart. She encouraged Nico’s Spanish. She was very funny and always made us laugh. She taught Nico to draw lines, circles, play with play-doh and so much more. She was always a spark of joy for us.

3Britney started with Speech. She taught Nico so many new words. Nico’s first sentence was thanks to Britney. She was always finding funny ways to made Nico speak. She helped me a lot too. She was the one who made the transition of Nico to the School District.

Nico also started speech group therapy. He loved this therapy. He was so happy to go and see the other kids. This therapy was really fun. Nico learned how to interact with other kids, and how to follow instructions. He learned a lot of new words and how to answer questions. He learned to interact with his teachers.

I can’t say thank you enough to Easter Seals and this ECI program and all people working in it. They changed our lives in so many ways. They went beyond just being therapists. They made us feel like family. They were there in one of the sad moments of our lives and they brought us hope.  Nicolas is doing so well thanks to all these ladies. We love you and will never forget you. Thank you very much!

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By: Nicolas’s Mom

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First Light and The Wish Float

What an incredible 4th First Light Family Camp we had! And the lessons, encouragement, and realizations keep coming.  The families are there because they are first and foremost a military family. We are proud that we can be of support to them through Easter Seals  Veterans Services, but more importantly, we are honored by the work they have done for our Country and the work they are doing for their families now.  We were also really excited to have donors who wanted to ensure that all the children attending received a new bike. Who knew it would lead to some incredible revelations. Untitled

“First light is hopeful, beautiful, but it is also when you are at your most vulnerable.”

One family of four who attended with two children both of whom have disabilities, learned a new lesson.  “Wow a bike!  You think I can learn how to ride it?”   Apparently, the children were never taught to ride… plenty of reasons, mostly protecting them – but the truth is it was just one more thing that made the children feel different adding to the list of disability, divorce, and military.   One of the children after taking the first turn on learning to ride said, “This is going to make me feel really good.”

Another mom of a family attending reflected on her childhood memories of what a bike meant to her as a child, bottom line – freedom.  “I think about my kids and the childhood they’re having now.  They are not having the “normal” childhood I had.  Maybe these bikes are going to help us ALL feel free again.”

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“The Wish Float, when something spiritual becomes real.”

 

 

The Wish Float, a tradition at First Light it, is an emotional event, after a day of mental health focused break-out sessions, nighttime with the family and new friends, stars out, our flag lit up and campfire going. Everyone is asked to send out their wishes and hopes in a note with a candle into the darkness.

One family, enjoying the night realized one young adult child was off to the side on their own.  Everyone assumed normal teen stuff.   Turns out, a younger child with a disability from another family, being emotional, had reached out to the closest person for comfort, their young adult. And it turns out, that is all it took, the touch of a child for this family member to realize that they always needed to be there for their family, not just for the weekend, but for life. First Light

Upon seeing the picture – Mom said, “I remember loving this moment! I felt like things were going to be truly o.k. with my kids.”

And that is what this Easter Seals Veteran Family Camp is all about.  Being okay with yourself, and being present for your family.

Christine Ellery, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Program Director; Kenzie Richard Easter Seals Greater Houston, Program Coordinator

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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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