It’s wonderful to share my first blog post as President and CEO of Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA.
In this blog I’ll regularly share news about Easter Seals and our programs from a personal perspective, and the issues, lessons and insights that I gather from the privileged position of working alongside our talented and committed staff. I’m excited to have another venue to spread the word about the impact of our exceptional services.
I began my work with Easter Seals twelve years ago as a board member. I joined the staff as Chief Operating Officer in 2011, and was honored and humbled to succeed Lisa Reeves as CEO in February. It’s a privilege to lead a staff of more than 200 dedicated professionals who create solutions for our community’s most pressing emerging needs – ensuring children with special needs realize their full potential, keeping seniors in the community and out of nursing homes, supporting caregivers in their vital and unsung role, and fully integrating veterans and military family members back into life at home. To me, that integration of everyone into a common community where each individual can focus on his or her ability, not disability, makes Easter Seals unique.
Since May is Military Appreciation Month, this is a great time to share information about an area that many don’t associate with Easter Seals, but is a vital part of our work - Military and Veteran Services.
For nearly 100 years, Easter Seals has supported people of all ages with disabilities and special needs. In recent years, we’ve used that framework to expand into assisting active duty military, veterans, and their families.
Recently separated veterans have a high unemployment rate, but Easter Seals offers an innovative solution. Our Veteran Staffing Network operates nationally and is a ground-breaking nonprofit staffing agency for veterans, service members and their families. The program launched in 2013 with two goals:
1. Ease the transition for veterans, wounded warriors, Guard and Reserve, and their spouses to civilian life by enabling them to find employment and establish meaningful careers.
2. Connect businesses with the high-quality talent they seek that Veteran Staffing Network clients represent.
To date, the Veteran Staffing Network has coached more than 5,000 clients and placed more than 1,000 of them in meaningful, career-focused positions.
The Military Family Respite Program provides a critical service for military families with children who have severe disabilities and their siblings. Families get some much needed "time off" from their parenting duties and specialized support for their children. These vital breaks help create and sustain healthy and stable homes. We’ve expanded the Respite Program to include "Little Warriors," children of wounded service members recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Easter Seals was founded to serve children, and our Little Warriors Child Development Program provides high-quality early childhood education, intervention, and therapy for families of wounded soldiers, allowing service members to focus on their own recovery.
Veterans who have served our country from World War II to today's conflicts are all served by Easter Seals Senior and Adult Day Services, where veterans at risk of institutionalization can find socialization, medical care, and hope at our Adult Day Centers.
You can see that when it comes to veterans, Easter Seals has created a suite of services to enable those who have served to receive the support, quality care, and recognition they have earned and to become connected with our local community.