Tag Archives: institutionalization

#LifePlan Workshop – What Every Parent of Children with Disabilities Needs to Know

Get Ready! Get Set!

Life Planning Workshops for

Families with Children/Young Adults with Disabilities

Planificación Legal y Financiera: Planificación Patrimonial, Fideicomiso para personas con Necesidades Especiales, Beneficios Públicos, Tutela y Poderes Legales

Jueves, 12 de febrero (se ofrecerá en español)

12: 30-2: 30pm

MHMRA Conference Center – 7033 Southwest Freeway

Presenters: Myrta Torres, Hispanic Outreach Coordinator, The Arc of Greater Houston

Legal and Financial Planning: Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Public Benefits, Guardianship and Powers of Attorney

Sunday, February 15


Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center – 5601 N. Braeswood Blvd.

Presenters: Steve Rhatigan, Principle, Archer Consulting Group LLC, and Lisa L. Wilson, Attorney at Law, Hayes & Wilson, PLLC

Legal and Financial Planning: Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Public Benefits, Guardianship and Powers of Attorney

Sunday, March 8


City of Pasadena-Parks & Rec Multipurpose Rec Center – 5200 Burke Rd., Pasadena, TX 77504

Presenters: Jacqueline D. Gartland, Special Needs Planner, Met Life Premier Client Group,

Michele K. Goldberg, Attorney & Counselor at Law and THRIVE

Registration: You must register by March 3 in order to attend this workshop.

Note: Special thanks to the City of Pasadena – Parks & Recreation for underwriting the first 20 reservations.


 *Preregistration costs $10 per person or $15 per couple. Registration at the door costs $15 per person or $20 per couple. *Register at least a week in advance and be eligible for drawing on valuable door prizes including gift cards. *Scholarships available for respite services during the workshop (these are provided on a first come first served basis). * If interested in information from the VOC and Day programs workshop, please contact workshops@jfshouston.org


Special thanks to Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, Pasadena Parks and Recreation and the Metropolitan Multi Services Center for hosting.

Register online today at jfshouston.org/disability_services/register.php

For more information, contact us at 713.667.9336 or workshops@jfshouston.org

*Accommodation requests must be made two weeks in advance.


Guardianship – Financial Planning – Public Benefits – Special Needs Trust

Vocational Options – Day Program Options

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As I approach one year as a volunteer for the Easter Seals of Houston Adult program, I reflect back on what it has meant to me.   I was a high school teacher for 33 years and when I realized it was time for the youngsters to take over the education field, I decided to retire from teaching.   As I sought to find a “new part time career” to fill my free time,   I thought I would pursue some type of volunteer work in the mean time.   As I grew up and up until about 10 years ago, my mom was a volunteer.  She volunteered for Crossroads of Indianapolis and to be honest as a young man, I never Jasonreally knew what she did or even asked her about it.

Last summer I asked Jenny Barnes,   a friend I have known for a while if she had any volunteer work I could do for Easter Seals.   She guided me to the Adult Program and Betsy Keane.   What a life changing experience this has been for me.   I remember the first day I showed up.   Betsy greeted me and said she was glad to meet me and glad to see me since I was the only volunteer that particular day.   One of the activities of that day was microwave cooking.  After being introduced to the clients and them introducing themselves to me, my first day of volunteering began.   What an experience to say the least.  I assisted half of the group in making a dessert.  The second half of the day a woman named Dena Blue, a singer, came and the group sang songs with her.   As I looked around the room during this experience, I didn’t see disabled adults.   I saw adults having a great time singing songs with Dena.   When I left,   I got in my car with tears in my eyes as I drove home.   My tears were because I realized then what my mom had done for half her life with Crossroads in Indianapolis and I never asked her about her experience.   I knew this was the place for me.  Maybe it’s in the genes, mom.

As a year approaches, I am amazed each day of what these adults accomplish.  Betsy challenges them every day with her creative ideas.  Most all of the adults are very self-sufficient and really want to do things themselves.  I am there for support and assistance.   Throughout this past year Betsy has helped the adults become more independent.   They plan activities outside of the Easter Seals days.  They have scheduled outings to the mall, park, Dave and Busters, the movies and to their homes for parties.  I have attended some of these events and I am just in awe of how well each of the adults has organized these eastrosvents.

…And I get to go bowling with these great people twice a month.  Donald Lemoine, the ESGH office manager, single-handedly kept the program alive 10 years ago, back when NPO’s were shutting down left and right. ESGH stayed in the game and temporarily had to shut the Adult Program down due to a serious lack of funding. Donald and his sisters are the best and the sparkle in these adult’s eyes bowling 3 to 4 games on Saturdays really makes their day as it does mine, since I was an avid bowler during my high school and college years.  It’s so much fun to see them get sooo excited to get a strike and a spare.   Best way to spend a Saturday morning.

I think more than anything else, I see these adults as my friends and not as clients that I volunteer for.    In the past, when I would see someone in a wheelchair,   I saw the wheelchair first and not the person sitting in it.   Now I see the person who just happens to be in a wheelchair.  I think people who have time to give can benefit volunteering somewhere whether it is Easter Seals or somewhere else.   It can be a life affecting experience.

This group that I feel so fortunate to be involved with has made a major impact on my life and my views on life.   These new friends of mine may think they need me, but I need them more.      And as I do find my “new part time career”, I will not work on the days that I work with Easter Seals.    This is too important to me.   And mom,  I hope I have made you proud.

Tom Clancy, ESGH Volunteer Extraordinaire!

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Family Day Out Starts Up for School Year and Gives Parents a Well-Needed Break

These are just a few of the thank you’s we get on a regular basis….

“Gotta tell you…I had a dream about you guys from Easter Seals…last night. You all were sitting next to our neurologist and I looked to each of you for help with a big decision about his care. That shows how much you guys mean to us….   Thanks for everything.”

“Hunter has been attending Family Day Out through Easter Seals for 4 years.  He looks forward to these Saturdays and spending time with all of the great friends he has made through this wonderful program.  The staff is very dedicated and knowledgeable in caring for children with special needs.  Each child is paired with a buddy who is very loving, caring and compassionate.  It is a very structured program and includes such fun activities as arts and crafts, games, dancing and outdoor play.  Family Day Out provides parents with a much-needed break on the weekends.  I have 2 other children, so I will usually take them shopping, lunch or a movie while Hunter is receiving excellent care.  It gives me the opportunity to do things with my other children that I would not otherwise been able to do.”  

“While we feel incredibly blessed to have such a special family, our resources are stretched to the max – our financial resources, our time resources, our physical energy, and our relational abilities.  One of the great values we have shared since we married almost 14 years ago is keeping a regular “date night”, whereby we can enjoy one another, discuss important things, have fun, and recharge our batteries.  We feel very strongly that the best thing that we can do for all of our children is build a strong and healthy marriage.  Not only will this provide stability for the children, but it will also enable us to work together to meet the needs of our family no matter how difficult or stressful life gets.  These “date nights” are a compass for us and they help supply the sanity, energy and strength we need to press on.  We would not be able to afford the childcare needed for these dates were it not for Family Day Out.”

“Before taking part in your program, I felt myself slowly becoming depressed due to the daily care and thinking about the future for my son can be quite overwhelming.  I am a firm believer that all parents need to take breaks to recharge so that they can be better parents.  When you throw disability in the family dynamics, I can tell you first hand, that it is much more intense.  Since we have used your programs, we have become better parents, more patient, strong, and ever so grateful.  It is caring people like you all that can and do make a huge difference in the families raising children with disabilities lives.”

**Family Day Out is a program which main goal is to provide a break to the parents with an outcome of reducing stress, abuse, family break down and institutionalization of individuals with disabilities.

FDO is a Saturday day-camp for children with disabilities ages 6 to 14 and their siblings ages 6 to 10. Children participate in arts and crafts and other fun activities. Volunteers provide each child with one-on-one attention. RSVP’s: Taken on a first come first serve basis starting the 1st of each month. Contact: Christine Ellery, 713-838-9050 x332, cellery@eastersealshouston.org

 2012 Houston FDO Dates & Locations:
Sat 3/10/12 at Katy Visual & Perf Arts Center
Sat 3/17/12 at Houston Parks Adaptive Rec Center
Sat 4/14/12 at Katy Visual & Perf Arts Center
Sat 4/28/12 at Houston Parks Adaptive Rec Center
Sat 5/05/12 at Mem Drive United Methodist Church
Sat 5/12/12 at Katy Visual & Perf Arts Center

2012 Woodlands Dates & Location: April 14, May 5, September 8, October 6, November 3, December 1; located at The Woodlands United Methodist Church, 2200 Lake Woodlands Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 77380. For information, contact Kristie at KCarlisle@eastersealshouston.org, toll-free 1(888) 825.9682, ext.472.

Easter Seals Family Day Out, http://www.eastersealshouston.org/Children/family-day-out.html. Volunteers and campers needed!  Support Family Day Out – Join Team Big Cats at www.WalkWithMeHouston.org.

Courtesy of the many thank you notes we receive from our clients.

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Meredith Vieira…Caregiver, her most important job

The morning of May 9th, I woke to bad news and good news.  The news from the Today Show was poignant, both sad and yet inspiring. Meredith Vieira announced she is leaving her anchor position! 

The Today Show has been my wake-up friend for many years, as it has been for many Americans. I nursed my babies in a rocking chair watching Tom Brokaw, and listened stunned to Katie Couric as the Twin Towers came down.  Meredith added a lightness and sweetness to the program.  She worked her way to the top of her career, after graduating Magna Cum Laude and becoming a new announcer in 1975.  A journalist of 36 years, finally reaching the top.

Meredith is, also, a Caregiver. She resigned her coveted position to devote more time to her husband who is battling the deadly neurological condition of Multiple Sclerosis.  Meredith Vieira is one of 50 million caregivers in the United States caring for a child/adult with a disability or a disabling medical condition and the census says the percentage is ever-increasing.

As the Director of a respite program serving Caregivers, I have firsthand knowledge of caring for a loved one.  The day can be full of worry, isolation and fatigue; the day can be full of beauty and inspiration.  But one thing is certain: these caregivers need support!  Today, the Texas State Legislature is moving forward on plans to reduce or eliminate many support systems needed by Caregivers.  We cannot let this happen.  We must tell the story of how support systems, such as respite care, are the lifeline for Caregivers,  and the horrible outcomes if these supports are eliminated….divorce, child abuse, drug abuse and even institutionalization of the family member.

The bad news is that we are losing Meredith Vieira who helped jump-start our day.   The good news is that she will be there for her husband to help him jumpstart his day!  She made a life-changing decision to become a full-time Caregiver; she chose love, caring and devotion, over career, money and prestige.  Yes, this morning, the Today Show was poignant, sad, inspiring.   Meredith, and 50 million other caregivers, deserves our love and support.  I will miss you Meredith Vieira!

Linda Latimer, LCSW, Director – Respite Services

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Just By Chance?….I don’t think so….

As if, you couldn't love working here!

Amazingly enough I found my way to this place completely by chance and at the same time specifically on purpose.  I think that’s the way the best parts of life work.  My “godbrother”, who is 2 years younger than I am, was born with cognitive impairment and cerebral palsy.  I remember being in the house with him as a child and knowing that everyone in the house including my godbrother was in immense pain. Why – I didn’t know.  Three other smaller children in the house from infant to toddler  – all seemed vaguely to act like they were in trouble.  I remember my godmother rubbing her son with sandpaper. I remember that the doctors told her that it would help stimulate his nerve endings.  Still I didn’t understand – I just knew that all were incredibly stressed and that I had heard whispers of divorce from my parents. Flash forward to junior high. My family and my “godfamily” moved to Austin. He was not with them. I don’t really remember knowing where he was. I just knew the family was happy….and sad…all at the same time and that I loved them as much as I loved my own family.

Flash forward again through college, through working and living in NYC, through a marriage and a child and then back to Houston. Once again, we were all here, except my “godbrother”.  As an adult, I now knew, that he lived in a home with wonderful caregivers who all but adopted him into their own families, a loving family that visited often and a really joyful life. As an adult, I now knew, what my “godparents” decisions had to be. I won’t go into to whys and hows and explanations.  We fight hard to help families stay intact, to provide support for people with disabilities to live in the community, but for my “godbrother”, just know that it was a decision that had to be made.  Organizations such as ourselves, Family2Family, Texas Projects First and Houston Center for Independent Living exist for this reason today.

So, I find myself in the midst of a job search. I decide after having worked for a very large Madison Ave. law firm…that maybe I need to be thinking about the greater good….and I apply for as many non-profit administrative assistant positions as I can find. This was before the internet, when we still actually looked at the phone books delivered on our doorsteps.  I must have sent at least 50 resumes in the mail. The only phone call and interview I received was, you guessed it, from UCP and my mentor, Manny Mones.  I remember walking through the doors of the old building and feeling an overwhelming sensation of coming home, at ease, at peace, and knowing that I would be getting the position.  And I did. My “godmother” came to take me to lunch soon after and asked me as we were driving away from the building if I remembered it at all.  I didn’t – she told me that my “godbrother” had come to UCP, when we were children and I had come with him. That’s explains a lot…probably more than I actually can imagine or more than some might even believe. From as a child, to first working here to now – the programs we offer now so much more than when my “godbrother” and I were children.  

And I am still here 16 years later – as the Development Director now.  I can’t imagine being anywhere else. This place – now Easter Seals – is so special. I have seen so many families, clients, children, adults, with the support of immense goodness, have shared in the ups and downs, and good and bad in the past 16 years. All for the greater good – the life lesson I received is so much bigger than me.  All for a reason, all for a purpose and sometimes, if you are lucky, just by chance.

By Kelly Klein, Development Director, Easter Seals

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Just the Facts

My parents had a good friend who was a great storyteller.  She was tall, dramatic and could actually pull off wearing a cape.  Whenever I asked her if something she said was really true, she would tell me, “Honey – never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

As we have been sharing our concerns about the impact of proposed cuts on early childhood intervention and community supports, we have run into a number of people who follow her philosophy.  They refuse to let the facts get in the way of their good stories.  Here are some facts that I hope you will consider:

  •  Early intervention is not welfare buying Cadillacs for people who won’t work – it is buying physical therapy for children who can’t walk.
  •  Early intervention positively impacts children with developmental delays and disabilities – they are more likely to gain the strength, skills and increased abilities that will allow them to enter school without needing more expensive special education services.
  •  Early intervention positively impacts all children of school age and the taxpayers who fund their education – studies consistently show that physical, occupational and speech therapy and the full complement of intervention strategies are more effective, less expensive and result in better long-term physical and educational results than services provided once the child is school aged.

Community supports, such as respite for parents of children with disabilities, have consistently been shown to be a lower cost solution than institutionalized care.  Children with disabilities are up to 10 times more likely to be abused.  Siblings of children with disabilities are at twice the risk for committing suicide.  Divorce, neglect, job absenteeism are all more prevalent for adults who are the caregiver of a child with a disability.  If the legislature enacts the proposed cuts to community supports, our children will need government services from CPS, foster care or, as happened for three Texas children last year, they may be murdered by their parent who is overwhelmed by the child’s needs.  Their parents are more likely to lose their jobs and their medical insurance – again shifting the high costs of unemployment and health care to the government.

I know we must live within our means, but the next time you hear someone telling you that services for people with disabilities are too expensive – I hope you will arm yourself with the facts.  Even if you ignore the moral implications, the cost of cuts is much higher than the money saved.  Let’s let the facts get in the way of their stories.

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