Easter Seals Greater Houston hosts several camps throughout the Greater Houston area and at Camp For All in Burton, Texas every summer. These camps serve children with disabilities, some of which are medically fragile, and their siblings. The days are filled with inclusive, accessible activities that all the children and volunteers enjoy. The following was written by one of our amazing 2018 summer camp interns.
Hi my name is Conlee Dull and I go to Memorial High School. This will be my 5th year volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston specifically their summer Camps and Recreation Program. I think by far one of my favorite memories from camp is the first time I ever gave a camper an award. Just to see the smile light up on their face and how proud their family was honestly made everything I did with my camper even more rewarding. Through volunteering I have learned that people with disabilities are the same as any other kids and they just want to have a good time without being judged just as any other kid would. Through volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Camp and Recreation Program I have really developed a passion of working with people with special needs and I can’t wait to see how much it grows this summer when I intern!
Conlee Dull, Summer Camps and Recreation Intern, Easter Seals Greater Houston
Our Easter Seals Greater Houston Transition team met Paul and his mother last June as a Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Transition Age Youth Project of Easter Seals Greater Houston/DARS client. Thanks to the Hogg Foundation, this project offers services and support for persons, ages 16 – 27, who have are on the spectrum and have a co-occurring mental illness and is designed to help youth become more independent and successful in their communities. The many facets of the program include social skills training, supported employment, summer internships, college classes at the Houston Community College VAST Academy, BCBA Services, peer supports, referral assistance, financial coaching, on-line driver’s Education and access to our mobile technology program.
Paul had just graduated from Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena, Texas. His only work history was as a volunteer through a high school program with a couple of companies in the Pasadena area. Paul and his parents wanted him to find a part-time job with a number of specific permanents such as close to home, after 4:00 pm and Monday thru Friday. Together, Paul and his transition counselor, Robert Aranda, created a resume reflecting his volunteer experience and a reference list of his former supervisors. They met to complete on-line applications, practiced mock interviews and reviewed social skills for interviewing techniques. Paul interviewed with companies through Summer and Fall.
In December, Wal-Mart called Paul in for an interview. His Transition Counselor says he is a very likable and responsible individual and that he really wants to show his parents that he is able to expand his learning curve and become more independent. Paul’s interview at Wal-Mart was a hit with the Human Resources Department and he was hired this past December as a Cart Attendant. Wal-Mart was very accommodating with assisting Paul with the work schedule he needed. Within two months, Paul’s supervisors noted his work great ethic, enthusiasm and customer service. Paul was selected Employee of the Month for February!!
Robert Aranda, Transition Specialist, Easter Seals Greater Houston
If you’ve watched one of the viral TED talk videos on YouTube, you know their tag line is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” At Easter Seals of Greater Houston, we also think we have ideas worth spreading and ours are focused on collaboration. Being the recipient of a 2016 Texas Veteran + Family Alliance (TV + FA) grant, our goal is to improve the quality of life for Texas Veterans and their families. By working hand in hand with proven Veteran Service Organizations, we are able to have an exponential impact on the community.
We decided to have two large Convenings that would allow us to improve the communication and collaboration of mental health and supportive service in the greater Houston area. Our first convening included Veteran Service Organizations, Mental Health professionals, Veterans and Corporate Partners. This diverse group was chosen so we could demonstrate to all the groups how each one was a vital part of the solution. The event featured an amazing singer for the anthem, Game Show style vignettes to introduce language and culture, break-out sessions that included using technology and apps, features for our partners, nationally recognized speaker COL (ret) David Sutherland of The Dixon Center and a catered lunch.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and there have only been two looming questions for Easter Seals of Greater Houston: When is the next one and can we make the event longer? It seems we have found some great ideas worth sharing and we are truly changing the way that everyone views mental health and veterans services. Our next Convening will be June 13th at Combined Arms. We invite all greater Houston corporations and businesses interested in supporting veterans to join us at the Convening and learn how hiring Veterans could be amazing for your business! Please contact Tim Stroud at TStroud@eastersealshouston.org or 713-838-9050 for more information.
Tim Stroud, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Veteran Initiative Coordinator
You can hear the ball rolling down the alley, the pins fall, and a cheer from a group of friends. They are frequent visitors of AMF Windern Lanes, meeting up at the lanes on most 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month throughout the year. Adult Bowling is a great tradition being upheld by a special group of Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Adult Program, one that is rare and highly valued by both participants and volunteers.
Across the United States, especially in Texas, services for individuals with disabilities are shockingly sparse once they turn 18. Easter Seals Greater Houston recognized this need and created opportunities for adults with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in our community. Easter Seals Greater Houston offers two Adult Programs on Mondays and Wednesdays. These programs are free to the adults and offer activities such as yoga, painting, self defense, crafts, cooking, field trips, sporting events, and much more! Another popular program is Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Adult Bowling Program that allows for program partipants to play 3 games for only $5. These Saturdays offer them another opportunity to connect to one another and the community. The Adult Bowling Program is equally loved by our incredible volunteers.
One of our great volunteers shares that:
“Being able to put a smile on our adult client’s faces is so rewarding. Bowling and a social outing is something they do not get to do regularly, and knowing that I am making their day better by helping them bowl, be out in the community, seeing friends is such a great feeling. Our clients are so happy when they are done bowling, and they are what make this project so fun for me. I love seeing how excited my friends get when they get a strike or how competitive they can be when bowling with their friends. My favorite memory from bowling is when Robert almost got a turkey (3 strikes in a row). He was so excited, and I loved knowing that I had contributed to his happiness. Easter Seals Greater Houston Adult Bowling Program on Saturdays is such an easy way to make a difference in someone else’s life and such a fun way to spend my Saturday.”
If you are interested in partipating in or volunteering for our Adult Bowling Program, please contact Donald LeMoine at 713-838-9050 ext. 310 or at email@example.com.
Sara Padon, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Bowling Program Volunteer
Hear ye, hear ye! Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s High School High Tech is pleased to announce that we now have Royalty among us! Montgomery ISD just crowned our very own HSHT student, Jahlil Howard, to be the 2016 Montgomery High School Homecoming King! Jahlil, a high school senior, is a second year participant in our High School High Tech and Ready to Achieve Mentoring program and has been a shining example of leadership to his peers.
High School/High Tech is a community-based partnership of parents, educators, rehabilitation professionals and business representatives working together to encourage students with disabilities to explore the fields of science, engineering and technology. Only 56% of students with disabilities graduate from high school. High School/High Tech was developed to address this situation. Most individuals with disabilities have not had the encouragement, role models, access and stimulation to pursue challenging technical careers or courses of study. Through High School/High Tech, students with disabilities are presented a mix of learning experiences that promote career exploration and broaden educational horizons.
This outgoing Senior has been super active in our HSHT program and has participated in several career field trips including Montgomery County Mock Interview Day, tours of Olive Garden and Woodforest National Bank and even defied gravity at a HSHT indoor skydiving event at IFly Woodlands! In addition to HSHT, Jahlil continues to break barriers as an avid runner and member of the MHS Varsity Cross Country Team and has been recognized with several awards for his Cross Country achievements, including District Champ, all the while maintaining his steady summer job.
Jahlil became involved with HSHT with the support and encouragement of his MISD Transition Specialist Lesa Bolling who proudly remarked, “Jahlil is an awesome young man with an outstanding personality! He makes everyone around him feel at ease. Jahlil’s faith is grounded and he speaks of it often.” Mrs. Bolling couldn’t have said it better! Congratulations to our amazing young man, and Royal Highness, Jahlil Howard!
Carmen Phillips, Easter Seals Greater Houston
Montgomery County HSHT Program Coordinator
January was National Mentoring Month, and so I want to take a minute to recognize one of our favorite volunteer mentors, Damon Dash, with our Easter Seals Greater Houston High School High Tech Program. Damon has been a mentor with our RAMP (Ready to Achieve Mentoring) program for four years, and is still going strong! The students that we work with come from all different backgrounds, and have all different types of abilities and challenges, but the one thing they all have in common (as they do with any high school student!) is that they can use advice from a mentor.
Over the years, Damon has been a mentor at three different schools, and is loved by his mentees. “S” was always so proud when Damon would come to cheer him on at his football games, and “E” was so happy to have someone help him fill out job applications (which led to him getting a job!). When “A” needed advice about school work, Damon was the first one he went to for help. The role of a mentor changes with each mentee they are paired with, and we love to see the impact that a wide variety of people have on our students. Damon loves to interact with our students, and as shown in this picture, they love learning from him, too!
From accountants to social work graduate students to Metro bus controllers to advisors from The University of Houston, we have had all sorts of volunteers come to help our students, and we are so grateful!
High School High Tech is always looking for new mentors, tour sites, volunteers for mock interview day, and summer internships hosts! Great way to get your company involved with STEM!!!
Erin Johnson, Easter Seals Greater Houston, High School High Tech Program Director