ESCC may not provide the particular service you are looking for, so we’ve compiled a list of local organizations whose mission is similar in serving individuals with disabilities. While we cannot guarantee quality or availability of any particular service, we’ve found these organizations to be helpful.
Cathy Brown, former Ambassador Haley Brown's mom: "Haley is part of a family that believes in community involvement. Our family strongly holds to the belief that being part of a community and part of a family means that you should give back as much as you receive. We have also received so much in our lives through the organizations that have helped our family.
We were thrilled to have Haley represent Easterseals Central California as Ambassador. We said "Yes!" without hesitation when she was asked and really enjoyed this special time representing Easterseals. We knew this would be a family commitment because of the time, travel and all the preparation it takes to work with a community group. We said yes because Easterseals had done tremendous things for Haley, who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bones.
Haley attends Easterseals Camp Harmon, where she feels like a star. At Camp, she is in her wheelchair the whole time, enjoying all the activities, having fun and feeling free. At school, for many years, she had an Easterseals aide. Today, Haley is out of her chair much more and ready to go "solo" with no aide by her fifth grade year. This kind of independence is what Easterseals is all about. In fact, Haley is able to achieve this kind of independence because of what her Easterseals aides have taught her about taking care of herself and being responsible about her physical safety.
Easterseals Central California has impacted our whole family. We were so proud when our daughter served Easterseals as the Youth Ambassador. It was an opportunity that gave her a chance to give back to her community and to do what she loves - share her special spirit!"
Marilyn Ormonde, Camp Harmon attendee for over 35 years: "The first time I went to Camp Harmon I was six and I didn't want to stay but at the end of my two weeks there, I didn't want to leave. I was there the very first year in 1963 and I have been to Camp every year except the past couple of years when I got my new puppy LBD (little brown dog). Because I have been to camp for over thirty years and for the longest, I am famous in a way. Cabin Number One is called the Marilyn Ormonde cabin. When Jane Carr and Paul Arbogast, camp directors, had this idea in 1983 to name the cabins, I was chosen as number one! Now I have the nickname 'Old Cabin Lady.'
What is really neat is that all the 14 cabins have been named for campers who have been at Camp Harmon for a long time. I think that shows how friendly and great it is at Camp. My memories of Camp are mixed - some are good and some are sad. I remember that getting away from everyone and everything and my family was so good for me. I come from a family of five kids and I'm the oldest, so my Mom really got a break when I went to camp.
But there are hard changes too, like when you don't see people at camp that you knew and loved. You know what picks me right up when I feel sad, I go to the Chapel and sit under the redwoods for some quiet time.
The campers at Harmon also feel like they own a bit of Camp. We tell the counselors what we think and we don't always see eye to eye, let me tell you. But I love all the directors and counselors. I am so thankful for Easterseals Camp Harmon and just try to stop me from coming this summer, LBD or no LBD!"
Charly Terpstra, Founder of Charly's Angels, Volunteers: Easterseals has been apart of Charly Terpstra's life for nearly 40 years. His mother-in-law, Lucille Geisel, was Executive Director and his father-in-law served on the Board. "Easterseals came with the family," says Charly. When Lucille invited Charly to visit Camp Harmon for Sunday lunch 37 years ago, he met more than 60 children who were completley unique. He decided then and there to see what he could do to help. Charly helped his father-in-law build the chapel and the infirmary in honor of his late mother-in-law.
An owner of a construction company, Charly and his crew of volunteers built three cabins in 1963 and began remodeling the 11 remaining cabins. Through the years, his work crew, now called Charly's Angels, has reroofed the Main Lodge, and restored and rebuilt the camp one step at a time. Charly's Angels has installed new gas lines, renovated the pool building with donated wood, built a new arts and crafts space, added insulation, added a walk-in freezer and new ceramic tiling in the kitchen, built all new dressers and bathrooms in each of the cabins, and added 144 new wooden bunk beds. All the building materials at Camp Harmon have been donated or discounted. For the bathrooms, Charly's Angels put in 527 volunteer hours of labor and three months of solid week end work. New heaters were installed in all 14 cabins. There are now more than 300 Charly's Angels volunteers because, as Charly says, "There is always a job to be done at Camp Harmon."
Billee Paul, former Easterseals Central California Board member: "When I lived in Fresno, California, I joined my first Easterseals Board in 1954. I was very active until I relocated to Santa Cruz in the early sixties. Then I joined the Board of Easterseals Society in Santa Cruz in 1968. To be honest, it seems as though there hasn't been a time when I wasn't involved with Easterseals. When I was in Fresno, we accomplished so very much. When I joined, I was told that Easterseals takes care of people who fall through the cracks - people who need help and can't get it due to lack of money or lack of state aid.
When I first was involved, polio was still very present and Easterseals was paramount in helping those afflicted. We funded a pool program in Fresno and helped with equipment and other programs and services. In Santa Cruz, since I have joined the changes have been tremendous. I was involved when Easterseals helped begin the Cabrillo College Stroke Center. I have seen Camp Harmon grow from its very beginnings to its new present upgrade. I have been out there beating the bushes to raise money for new facilities at Camp and made sure that the pool at Camp is in tip-top shape.
I have seen Easterseals Central California grow from being one Easterseals Society in one county to a large organization that serves ten counties in the central region of California. Today, we serve a broader range of disabilities and a larger age group, yet the needs are being better met. I plan on seeing growth into the new decade. You are only as young as you feel. As I give to Easterseals Central California, I feel younger and younger."