Tag Archives: respite

Camp Growth and Graduation

Abby and Lexi at Camp Smiles

The following Camp Smiles graduation speech was given by Lexi D., a longtime Easter Seals Greater Houston volunteer, to her amazing camper buddy Abby H.!

“Abby, (also known to her fans as lode runner red) you’ve been in my cabin before, but this was the first time I had the honor to be your buddy. I was already excited for camp but the moment I saw you when you arrived you embraced me with the biggest hug and the brightest smile not even a mask could hide. In that moment my heart was full and I knew this was going to be an amazing weekend both of us would never forget.

We went on countless missions as lode runner red and her trusty side kick lode runner blue finding all the force fields around camp and unlocking them with our handy wrist bands, along with many other side quests. You continuously color the world with your creativity and bring joy to everyone you come across. You truly do not meet a stranger and you greet everyone with kindness. The world needs more lode runners like you. As you level up out of camp you will continue to amaze everyone around you because you are, as you told me to describe you: cute, adorable and great at digging holes. I can’t wait to see what your future holds, just this weekend you blew me away with how brave and enthusiastic you were. You welcomed every challenge with a smile and you were the first one to volunteer for each activity. You even held a bearded dragon for the first time and immediately declared that you definitely need one at home. Your fearless personality truly inspires me, and I know you can do anything you put your mind to. I’m so proud of you and I feel incredibly lucky that I have seen you blossom into the amazing person you are over the past years. Thank you for being my camp buddy this weekend but more importantly thank you for being my best lode runner friend for life. I love you!”

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s inclusive and fun Camp Programs available for children, teens, young adults, veterans and families!

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Triple the Support

The following is a testimony was written by a parent who participates in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Respite Program.

Respite Care has been a godsend for my family! I have six boys, three of which are triplets with autism. To say that the amount of work they create for me is overwhelming would be an understatement! Between personal hygiene needs, special diet needs, and special education needs, there just never seems to be enough time to get anything done. With Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Respite Program my life has become manageable! I am able to take care of my children during the week, and on Saturdays I bring in a caregiver who lets me take care of everything but them! I finally have time to get my house in order, cook some healthy meals, and yes believe it or not- have an hour or two of me time! During the pandemic this was especially helpful! Having the triplets at home 24/7 was beyond stressful and trying to get them to complete their online academic responsibilities was pretty much impossible! So to have a break one day a week from everything was literally a small piece of Heaven! I am extremely grateful to Easter Seals Greater Houston and their Respite Program for providing my family and I with this monthly relief and I pray they are able to continue to offer this assistance to many families in the future!”

Respite Services provides relief options to parents who provide ongoing care of their family member who has a disability. Learn more about this crucial service that helps both the caregiver and their loved one today.

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A Summer of Fun!

This summer, Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Camp Program was so excited to offer both in-person and virtual programming for our campers that would typically attend Camp Buckaroo or Camp Smiles! It was awesome to see so many of our camp kiddos again!

Our biggest in-person program of the summer was Smiles Family Camp: a camp for children with cerebral palsy ages 6-15 and their families! We hosted this camp during the first week of July at Camp For All; it was wonderful to see the whole families get involved in all the unique activities Camp For All has to offer: fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, zip lining, karaoke, and so much more! This program was an awesome way to continue hosting summer recreation, while still remaining socially distanced from other families! Watch Rikki & Nico’s testimony about the impact Easter Seals Camps have had on their family!

Another in-person program we hosted was Respite Camp: a morning respite program for children with disabilities ages 6-14! BIG THANKS to The Caroline School for sharing their wonderful and accessible facilities with us; we were able to host this program when school was not in session! Campers were paired 1:1 with a volunteer, who acted as their buddy and helped lead them through activities like arts & crafts, science experiments, and a fan favorite—scavenger hunt! Our campers were so happy to see their old camp buds again, and receive individualized attention from our caring volunteers. We wrapped up the summer with a talent show and award ceremony, a tradition from our usual day camp, Camp Buckaroo!

We also hosted a virtual summer camp program, so campers could still have fun summer programming if they weren’t ready to come back in-person yet! For this program, we partnered with Project Sunshine, another awesome non-profit organization in the Houston area! Project Sunshine brought their friendly and welcoming volunteers to lead our campers through online trivia games, at-home scavenger hunts, and so much more. We met every other Friday throughout the summer!

I’m so thankful for our joyous campers and hard-working volunteers that attended our programs this summer. Thanks to our incredible supporters The Carter Family, In Memory of Sam Davison, The Dull Family, Enrico and Sandra di Portanova Charitable Foundation, The George Foundation, The Moody Endowment, Prosperity Bank, Heather & Mike Simpson, Texas Children’s Hospital, United Way of Greater Houston, and The WithMerci Foundation for making Camp possible! We look forward to seeing you all this fall for more fun & games with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Camp and Recreation Programs!

Kenzie Richard, Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Camp Director

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Letter from the Heart

To our friends at Easter Seals Greater Houston, I would like to thank you for the support you have given to our family as well as to many other families like ours. Your great contribution to many families like ours is extremely helpful, we are very grateful for the support that the Easter Seals Respite Program has given and this makes our life and work easier with our children and other families in special need. Respite Blog Careigiver for November spanish translation

Your work is not simply an office job but a way to be good human beings and in the same way, it will be rewarded with the best payment that they could accrue which is the blessing of God. You are the ones who who give hope to every person who labors with disability and makes things possible and others to relax, breathe and sit down with the support they need.

Hoping that these few but grateful words will come to your hearts, I am very grateful to them, that God will continue to bless them.

-Valentin, Easter Seals Respite Client

Respite Services provides relief options to parents who provide ongoing care of their family member who has a disability. Many parents of children and adults with disabilities have low incomes and cannot afford to hire providers to take time away from their children. Many people with disabilities require 24-hour, around-the-clock supervision, attention and care. This continuous demand becomes a tremendous drain on caregivers emotionally, physically and mentally-this care will remain constant as they grow older. Consequently, families of children with disabilities are at high risk for divorce, substance abuse and child abuse because of the continuing stress of caring for the child with disabilities. Respite care is an assistance program to parents, but just as importantly, is a prevention program aimed at stopping some of the social problems that can result from the tremendous demands made on families due to the disabilities of their child or the institutionalization of the family member with a disability. For more information click here. This important program is largely possible because of the generosity of our community, please consider donating today.

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Caregiving for the Caregiver

The following was written by a parent who receives Respite Services from Easter Seals Greater Houston.

I am an immigrant, single mother of a son who has autism and speech delay. I have a full-time job supporting my son and I. Things are difficult with no family in town and just a couple of friends. We essentially have little to no caregiver support here. Thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Respite Program I now have help. We are now connected with their Respite Program that provides the break and support that I was looked for and needed.

I have now opportunity once a week to not only take care of myself but also go out to social gatherings, spend time with friends and will be starting a dance class now too!  I am lucky to say that thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston and their caregiver support, my life and family finally feels balanced.

Respite Parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Services

Many parents of children and adults with disabilities have low incomes and cannot afford to hire providers to take time away from their children. Many people with disabilities require 24-hour supervision, attention and care. This continuous demand becomes a tremendous drain on caregivers emotionally, physically and mentally-this care will remain constant as they grow older. Providing this much needed support for caregivers is only possible because of the generosity of the community. Would you please consider helping support the thousands of families that depend on Respite Services and donate today?

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It Takes A Village of Great Therapists

Our family is a little sad, but completely proud to have our son graduate from Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program. We are so very grateful to have had the wonderful team that Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program provided.  After our son John’s long NICU stay he began receiving outstanding therapy from Easter Seals ECI team. First of all I’d like to thank Aliza. At any time I could call you with any issue or concern. You never failed to provide me with resolutions for my concerns. You had John’s best interest at heart. Thank you!

Lisa Rand. I could always talk to her about sensory issues with John. You sent me texts on your free time with videos that really did work for John. It was such a joy to have you in our home. We always looked forward to all the goodies you had in your bag. With your therapy sessions John can take on anything! Thank you!

Jennifer Miller. We worked with you for a little while, but we were more than ecstatic to have you teach John to say those hard to speak letters (like B and P).  You are a wonderful therapist, mom and friend! John says more sentences because of you! Thank you! 

Neice Thomas. You were such a gentle therapist. Your patience with John made me so thankful to you. He touches Play-Doh and slime without issue! Thank you!

Lastly, Andy Fry. It was always a nice getaway for John. To meet other children with similar issues. Your Family Day Out Program was so fun! What you do for the children and parents is great. Thank you!

We will continue to do the Walk With Me with Easter Seals Greater Houston once it is safe for us all to do so. We certainly do miss ECI!  Thank you again for all the work that was put in for John.

Sincerely,

Monique Stuart
John Stuart
Curtis Stuart

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program is still providing all services via tele-therapy including evaluations. Call Alicia at 713.838.9050 ext. 385 to schedule a free evaluation and to check on your child’s milestones.

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Parent Night Out

es pno_-110.jpg

After years of holding Respite Services’ Parent Night Out event at Gethsemane United Methodist Church in Bellaire (and inheriting the beloved Houston Area Respite Center or HARC), Easter Seals Houston needed to make a change due to upcoming renovations at the facility.  We made the move this past Friday night to our very own Easter Seals Greater Houston location at 4888 Loop Central Drive.  The exact location is inside our beloved Caroline School.  We will be holding the PNO program on Friday evenings from 6:30 P.M. to 10:30 P.M. unless otherwise noted (weather/holidays etc.). PNO

Our first night in the new location – we had an amazing time with our clients, the volunteers and staff and we all agree that it was a great success!

Parents Night Out is intended to provide Respite services for our caregivers, those who love and care for our clients’ day in and day out. It gives parents and guardians a small break from their normal duties to relax and have some down time.  This is also a treat for our clients, who look forward to having fun, interacting with new friends and getting out of their daily routines.  We are planning theme nights and a variety of activities make PNO even more fun and engaging!

As the Respite Family Coordinator & the Parents Night out Program Coordinator, I am beyond excited to see what our future nights hold. At Easter Seals we understand the necessary support you need as a caregiver and if this is what we can offer then I can only strive to make it the best.

PNO.jpgIf you or anyone you know who is active, has a positive attitude, a big heart and would like to volunteer, please reach out to me at arico@eastersealshouston.org for more information on our program. Please reach out if you are interested in enrolling as well.

“The functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion and empathy.” -Dean Koontz

Adriana Rico, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Respite Family Coordinator

*PNO is a Friday night out-of-home Respite program currently held in two locations around the Houston area.  Children, teens, and young adults with disabilities are welcome to come and have an out-of-home opportunity to socialize in a safe and fun environment.  Depending on age and activity level, one of the two locations can be recommended for appropriate care. Application and reservations must be submitted prior to attendance.

 

 

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I am in the Caring Business

Caregiving-the activity or profession of regularly looking after a child or a person who is sick, elderly or disabled. There can be the feeling of fulfillment and happiness, it can also be overwhelming on a caregiver and could be mentally and physically exhausting. Being a Respite Family Coordinator for Easter Seals Greater Houston, this is what I hear every day through tears, sighs, laughter, joy and distress. I can’t help but feel the families’ pain and do what I do with love. I share their pain, fear and hurt. I can’t deny that this position has made me a better person, more compassionate and understanding to what we take for granted each and every day. I can sit here and ramble on about what a caregiver goes through, but what I need is for people to understand is that we do what we do…because we CARE. Not just anyone can do that and for that, I am grateful that I wake up knowing I did something to make someone else’s day just a little bit better.

When people ask me what I do? Screenshot_2019-07-02-09-17-22~2.png

I start with I ABSOLUTELY love what I do.

I try to bring awareness and motivate people to go out of their way to help those in need. Overall my organization, ESGH is about caring, my Respite program is caring. If all I have to do is show them that they are appreciated each and every day by offering our services, then I will go above and beyond. It is not just a job, I do it with lots of love and pride. To all the caregivers out there, may your heart be filled with joy, warmth and happiness.

“It’s not how much you do, it’s how much love you put in the doing.” –Mother Teresa

 

Respite Services provides relief options to parents who provide ongoing care of their family member who has a disability. Many parents of children and adults with disabilities have low incomes and cannot afford to hire providers to take time away from their children. Many people with disabilities require 24-hour, around-the-clock supervision, attention and care. This continuous demand becomes a tremendous drain on caregivers emotionally, physically and mentally-this care will remain constant as they grow older. Consequently, families of children with disabilities are at high risk for divorce, substance abuse and child abuse because of the continuing stress of caring for the child with disabilities. Respite care is an assistance program to parents, but just as importantly, is a prevention program aimed at stopping some of the social problems that can result from the tremendous demands made on families due to the disabilities of their child or the institutionalization of the family member with a disability.

Adriana Rico, Respite Family Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston

 

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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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What the Snap?

Ethan, one of our Easter Seals Houston 2018 Summer Camp Interns, has been Denium’s counselor for the past two years. Before that, they had been in the same cabin. Over the three years, they built an amazing bond that helped both of them grow in a way that will forever be remembered. Sadly, camp does not last forever. At Camp Smiles, campers graduate when they are 14 years old. The graduation ceremony is always a very emotional time, as counselors who have been with their campers for years, give a speech to say farewell to some of the most impactful people in their lives. There is rarely a dry eye in the audience. Here is the speech Ethan gave to Denium as he was graduating:

You have been a part of my life I will never forget. From the countless catch phrases such as “ooooooh you got a girlfrieeeend” to nicknaming Pablo as Pappadeux, your humor is a gift that will be remembered by all.

This is our second year together. Imagining a camp experience without you is just strange to me. While your presence overall is unforgettable, there are some specific instances that are especially amazing. Two years ago, we had a very emotional day together. We were outside of the art barn, and I decided to sneak up on you and pop a wheelie as a joke. Little did I know, you were already in an irritable mood because of something that had just happened. As soon as I did that, you reached back and swatted at me. My popping a wheelie with you was the tip of your iceberg. You were very upset. We got back to the cabin and the other counselors and I insist that you apologize. After a while, our friend, Lee, took you to the bathroom so y’all could have a talk about it and calm down. What happened next is something that will never fail to make my heart melt. I remember you coming in, looking very sad. You came up to me and said something very softly, too softly to hear. I ask what you said. You took a moment to collect yourself. Then, you pulled me in as tight as you could and profusely apologized to me and told me how sad you were. Never in my life have I experienced such raw sincerity. While you were crying and apologizing, I began to cry as well as I realized how sincere and caring of a person you truly are.

After a couple of years with you, I’ve noticed some changes in your personality. For one, during your first year, you were completely repulsed by the idea of interacting with the icky icky girls. Now this year, you can’t stay away from them. You went from poking fun at Lee for having a girlfriend by saying “oooooh, you got a girlfriend” every time Sophie walked by. Now, you proudly announce to your whole cabin that you indeed do “have a girlfriend”.

On a more serious note, the change that I have been most proud to witness is how much more open you’ve been with your caring personality. Spending time with you has given me the unique opportunity to experience not only the hilariously wild side of you that I call “what the snap Denium” but also the sweet and tender side of you. The side of you that holds Jacoby with care. The side that is well beyond content while tickling and smiling at Niko. It has been very impactful on me and has made me so happy. I’m so proud that I got to see you interact with the little ones so well.  The way you interact with the little ones has made everyone who has been around you smile. The way you interact with Niko and Jacoby shows a new side of you that makes me so so proud. You are truly beyond your years with the way you patiently interact with these kids.

Camp has been a huge part of my life. I tell everyone I meet that there is nothing more I look forward to than this particular week. Every time I envision future camp experiences, I still picture you being a part of them. You’re an important part of this community we have and will be missed dearly.

I know that as you move on in life, you will continue to make others happy. Whether it be through your humor, or your humongous caring heart, you will make the lives of so many people much brighter. I hope that we keep in touch so that when I have kids one day, you can make them smile.

Ethan, Summer Camp Intern, Easter Seals Greater Houston

 

 

 

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