Tag Archives: respite

Relax, Recharge, Feel Refreshed

Thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston and Hilton Hotel of America, Downtown Houston – my husband and I enjoyed the gift of time together and a break from home, where we could recharge ourselves. Living in a disabled family, although rewarding, is full of extreme ups and downs that can be excessively stressful at times. Around the clock duty as a care taker to our adult son with autism and co-occurring disabilities means that time away is a chance to unwind, have some much needed down time and also return ready to take on another day. We really appreciated that Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program gives us the chance to get away from home, but be close enough in case of emergencies. We enjoyed our trip to The Houston Galleria to prepare for the holidays and were spoiled with deliciously prepared breakfasts.

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Easter Seals Greater Houston has been a constant support in our lives for our son. Not only with the Respite Program, but when he was younger and attended Family Day Out on Saturdays once a month and of course the much anticipated Camp Buckaroo in the summer. Before the location in The Woodlands started, we would drive over an hour each way into Houston for camp, it was worth the chance to have our son engaged and stimulated in a safe environment for a few days during the summer break.

Thank you for the opportunity to enjoy this time especially during the hectic holiday season. We were so happy and care free for a couple of days – and this opportunity could not have come at a more needed time.

We appreciate Easter Seals Greater Houston, love the Hilton of Americas and are thankful for all you do for the disabled community and care takers.

Thank you,

Nicole and Darrel, Respite Services clients, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Miraculous Megan: Longtime Client and Friend

Megan Fry is an amazing 17 year old girl. She has been part of the Easter Seals Greater Houston family for over 10 years. She has the mind and the personality of a typical developing teenage girl. She loves art and has her own website, Just My Eye, that meg-w-dvox-300x225showcases her creations. One of Megan’s many unique qualities is that she was born with cerebral palsy, with an end result of being nonverbal and using a wheelchair to maneuver around. You need to be careful because she drives her chair around very fast! She communicates and shows off her big personality by using a Tobii. The Tobii is a device that allows Megan to use her eyes to pick out her words which are then shared through the speaker.

Over the years, Megan has attended our summer camps, participated in Family Day Out, received In-Home Respite, and participated in our BridgingApps program. Her family has participated in our Lil’ Rustler Rodeo night with the Houston Livestocgroupk Show and Rodeo, used a Respitality weekend, participated in our Walk With Me at the Houston Zoo event and our Hats Off to Mother’s Luncheon. We were fortunate to have Megan as our summer intern this past year. She created and distributed our Easter Seals Montgomery County newsletter. Megan is currently participating in our Family Day Out program as a Junior Director. She is amazing with our clients and our families.

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Megan is a true success story and ambassador for Easter Seals Greater Houston. Megan and her mom even went on speaking engagements last year to represent Easter Seals during the United Way campaign. She has received services and continues to give back to our community. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Megan because we know there is nothing she can’t accomplish!

Kristie Carlisle, Respite Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Check out Megan’s dad’s post about how assistive technology helped him connect with his daughter here!

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PNO = R&R

My husband, Doug, and I welcomed our wonderful son, Duncan, after our 39th birthdays. Having met at 21, we’d spent the better part of two decades dining at the best “cheap eats” in Houston, taking weekend jaunts in Texas, exercising daily, and enjoying the occasional happy hour. Quite simply, we appreciated the benefits of living as DINKS (double-income, no kids).

Dec 2015 Respite blog PNO 1So along came our beautiful baby. Overnight, our lives transformed in rewarding and challenging ways I never could have imagined. Of course, this is true for any new parent, but there exists an additional anxiety, concern and effort when you care for a child with special needs. Doctors’ appointments, therapy, testing, tutoring, special-ed meetings, financial challenges, and countless hours of online research: It’s just plain exhausting.

So, when we heard about the Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program, Parents’ Night Out, we were cautiously optimistic.  We were happily surprised at its affordability: $10 for four hours of babysitting by Easter Seals’ skilled volunteers and staff.  But, we know our son. He is fearful of new situations, despite having attended summer camps with Easter Seals Greater Houston. Bless his heart, he is visually impaired, has epilepsy and CP, so who could blame him?Dec 2015 Respite blog PNO 2

Our concerns were unfounded and he made fast friends at Parents’ Night Out. The volunteers exemplify patience and understanding, each offering a weekend night to care for our son, later telling us how much they enjoy Duncan!  Six months later, he asks to attend the “babysitting place” nearly every Friday night.  Doug and I have actually seen three movies and been out to dinner twice during the last six weeks! That reconnection is critical with the added stress of our days.

From respite for caregivers to summer camps and fun activities for children, Easter Seals is a blessing for thousands of people in the Greater Houston area. And the Graham family is proof of that.

-Catherine Graham, Respite Program client parent

For more about Easter Seals‘ Care Giving Services, click here.
For more about Easter Seals’ Camps and Recreation, click here.

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A Dear Friend of Easter Seals

tupperA Tribute to Lynne Tupper: A long standing, tried and true volunteer for our Respite Program’s Parents Night Out. Lynn will be greatly missed by our clients, staff, and the Houston community.

“I can’t believe she is gone. Lynne was my wonderful friend and also a friend to Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program. Even though it was hard for her to tear herself away from her job she loved so much, she always joined us for our annual Christmas Party. As a social worker for 40 years, I have encountered many healers whose hearts were big and who made a difference. But Lynne stood out at the top. She helped me see what really mattered, to examine our values and our hearts. No one can take her place. No one. My life was touched by her in a way that will be with me forever.”

Linda Latimer, Respite Program Director, Easter Seals Greater Houston

lynneLynne served as a devoted Clinical Director at the Occupational Therapy Center in Houston, TX for over 30 years. Lynne will be greatly missed; however, she will never be forgotten.

 

A memorial service for Lynne C. Tupper will be held on Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 at 2:00pm at St. Phillip United Methodist Church – 5501 Beechnut St. (At Renwick) Houston, TX 77096.

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From Bloom Where You’re Planted – “Life and Times of the Kikuchi Girls”

Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Camp BuckarooThat week has been the highlight of the summer for Keags and Rys! kikuchi 3They were lucky enough to spend the last 5 days having non-stop fun at Camp Buckaroo put on by Easter Seals. It was such an incredible camp, run by incredible people for kids with special needs and their siblings. 

Everyday from 10-3 the girls were doted on and entertained with exciting stuff at the gorgeous and ginormous Woodlands United Methodist Church. Everyday they had story time, song and dance time, games, lunch, a craft and special guests. They also played on the awesome playground, did a scavenger hunt and built a giant fort. The special guests were a music therapist with tons of instruments, a dancer, the snake man with 8 snakes, Crocodile encounter with small alligators and crocodiles, Nature Discovery Center with turtles, lizards and exotic plants, fireman with their truck, a policeman with his car, and a clown!kikuchi 2They each had a college age buddy to help them throughout the week. Riley’s was Brooklyn and Keagan’s was Hallie. They were both so sweet and so helpful! There were also about 12 other cute kids there and a bunch of awesome volunteers, interns and Easter Seals employees. And I mean it when I say they were awesome! On day 1 I didn’t pack an extra set of clothes for Riley and her diaper leaked. Well they are so amazing that they ran to Target to buy her shorts because they didn’t want to bother me!!After the first day we got in the car and Keagan said “mommy I didn’t like it. I LOVED it!” She also told me all about her friend Noah and this silly momma asked her “is Noah special needs or a sibling?” Well shame on me for asking and thank heavens I have a smart daughter that set me straight! Keagan responded “mommy I don’t know! And I don’t care!” Out of the mouths of babes!

kikuchi 1On the last day of camp there was an awards ceremony. Keagan was presented with the “Most Couragous Dancing Queen” award for doing the Whip in front of the whole camp! And Riley received the “Star Performer” award for dancing, smiling and being happy all week. They also received their T-shirts and cute scrapbooks that they made with all their pictures. Some of which I had to take a picture of here to include on the blog.

Camp Buckaroo will definitely be our yearly summer tradition now! All three of us will count down til next year!

About us: I’m the divorced single mom of my darling twin girls Keagan and Riley. Keagan is a spunky, smart and fun girl who keeps life exciting. And Riley is Special Needs with an emphasis on special! She has many medical challenges, 19 diagnoses’s in fact, including Cerebral Palsy, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Polymicrogyria, Epilepsy and Asthma. But she is one incredible girl-they both are! I think I’m the luckiest mom in the world! Follow me here – http://bloomwhere.blogspot.com/

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Camp Starts With You…The Volunteer

Easter Seals Greater Houston Camp Smiles is off to an incredible start, and we couldn’t do it without our volunteers.  They arrived on Saturday at Camp For All before Campers for more training and team-building.  The 60 volunteers range in age from 16 to 26, from first timers to 9 year veterans (wow!), and nearly half are sibling sets.  It’s all in the family when it comes to volunteering at Camp Smiles!

“I’m so excited about my little brother being here as a volunteer,” said one.  “I have gotten so much out of volunteering at Camp Smiles and I know he will, too.  I can’t wait to see him with his camper!”

As their final team-building activity, the volunteers gathered in a circle.  The first timers talked about what they were most excited about and the veterans talked about what keeps them coming back.  They had in common wanting to create an atmosphere of welcoming and celebration, and of making each camper feel like the coolest kid at camp.

Jessie, a former Camp Smiles camper and a first time volunteer, knows Camp Smiles’ impact from both sides.  She was the last to speak and she said, “The cabins, the activities, this awesome site that we’re on, and the fact that we’re away from our families – all that is really great.  But camp starts with you, the volunteers.  You make that stuff go from really great to amazing, and you help make memories that stay with a camper their whole life.”

Christine Ellery, Program Director, Camps Counseling & Case Management

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Camp Buckaroo – Benefits Aren’t Just for the Campers!

2015 Camp Blog pic 1Camp Buckaroo, Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s day camp, is in full swing and we are having a blast!  Camp is great for the campers because it’s filled with love and acceptance.  One mom said that camp is the only place where her child, who has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound and nonverbal, feels like a regular kid.  “She tends to be a daredevil and has an amazing spirit to try new things, and at camp she and her attitude are celebrated!”

The impact of Easter Seals camp isn’t limited to the campers though.  Parents often struggle to find quality camps for children with disabilities at affordable rates.  Many parents talked about extensive medical costs, and changes in primary insurance that have made deductibles skyrocket; Camp Buckaroo‘s scholarships are a true blessing for these families. And we couldn’t offer those scholarships without community support!2015 camp at spca campers

Our volunteers are also relishing in the joy of our summer camps.  This veteran volunteer said it best: I’ve realized over the years what a positive influence a volunteer can be to a camper.  It’s amazing to witness a camper grow and become more confident, all because a volunteer motivates them and showers them with support.  Buckaroo makes a huge impact on everyone involved!”

Special thanks to National Charity League Bayou Village Chapter, The Amerigroup Foundation, The George Foundation, United Way Greater Houston and United Way Montgomery County for making our work possible!

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