The Easterseals New York community came together for a very special event on Wednesday, September 6th – the Grand Opening Celebration of the New Kessler Center Playground.
The playground has been years in planning. Thanks to the generous contributions of Dennis Kessler, local partners, new donors, staff, and supporters from across the Easterseals New York family, $100,000 was raised in what was largely a word of mouth campaign.
A spirit of joy and gratitude pervaded the event. Under sunny skies Kessler students, thrilled to be outside, played on the new swings, slides, domes, jungle gym and other equipment. Music played as staff, families and Easterseals supporters greeted each other and posed for pictures.
The playground is indeed great news for Kessler students and families. Not only will it serve as a wonderful recreational outlet for our students, but the exercise and sensory experiences it provides play an important therapeutic role in their health and development. Students can now engage in outdoor activities on a regular basis as part of the regular school day. The playground allows students to play and learn in a safe environment and is an important new resource that goes beyond what the school has been able to offer in the past.
Kris Lofgren, a parent of a Kessler student, spoke movingly of what the Kessler Center has meant to her family. She praised the “unbelievable” care her son receives from staff and described her family as forever grateful for having found the Kessler Center. “Our family can breathe again because of the Kessler Center. The care he is getting is a real game changer,” she said.
Dennis and Larry Kessler, the school’s founders, shared in the joy of having accomplished something great for the students. In brief remarks, Dennis Kessler and Don Harreld, Senior VP of Education for the Fedcap Group, humbly thanks supporters who made this special day possible.
The newest addition to our state-of-the-art therapy room at The Kessler Center is a custom climbing wall, made possible from a generous grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, New York! The adaptive climbing wall is especially designed for children with disabilities and develops critical thinking, gross motor, and problem solving skills. Used in conjunction with other physical and occupational therapy tools, the climbing wall is an exciting addition to our therapeutic repertoire offered to children with developmental disabilities.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, New York supports projects and programs that improve the physical and behavioral health of children in the greater Rochester area.
On April 9, Easter Seals NewYork in conjunction with the Orange County Health Department and Bon Secours provided a Healthy Living Expo in Port Jervis. Dozens of local residents received screenings, advice and counseling on how to live a longer, happier life. This event is the fifth in a series of events made possible by a grant from the Dyson Foundation.
Easter Seals New York is thrilled to announce its award of a $2,500 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank® to support Camp Colonie. The TD Charitable Foundation philosophy focuses on affordable housing, the environment, and education/financial literacy. Camp Colonie is a recreational and educational integrated summer camp for children ages 5-21 from throughout greater Albany. This unique program meets all of the educational and therapeutic needs of children with disabilities as would a traditional summer school program, while also providing an enriching experience for typically developing children. Camp Colonie is unlike any other summer camp – at one moment there are math lessons, speech therapy sessions, arts and crafts, and team building exercises all taking place. Campers return year after year because of the supportive environment which allows all campers to test abilities and explore their interests. Camp Colonie has been a staple in the Capital District for more than 30 years. Easter Seals New York is excited to partner with another long-standing organization, TD Charitable Foundation, to support this irreplaceable program.
Nationwide, the Department of Health and Human Services estimate that nearly one in five Americans has a diagnosable mental illness. In 2013, according to Federal Government statistics, only 3.6% of New York citizens received treatment for mental, a small fraction of the number of New Yorkers who would benefit from treatment. In the Rochester area, until now there were some treatment regimes that were unavailable locally to people who need them, forcing them to travel long distances to receive care. Unfortunately, any obstacle to receiving care is particularly problematic for people in need of mental health assistance.
Because of these circumstances, Easter Seals New York is pleased to announce that our Diagnostic Treatment Center has received Certification as a Mental Health Provider under the NY Department of Mental Health's Article 31. This certification significantly expands the available service offerings at the DTC.
"Because of this certification we will be able to reach more patients in the area, and be able to provide more comprehensive treatment regimes for those we do reach. Most importantly, we’ll make it easier for those who need care to receive it, especially in the event of an acute event. The staff here in Rochester are excited to provide Mental Health Services for the Greater Rochester area”, according to David Canfield, Regional Director of Easter Seals NY. “The level of commitment and dedication provided to this vulnerable population, is a corner stone of the services we offer. Our clinicians are well respected locally and on the national level. They have specialized in meeting the needs of the Rochester Community and are looking forward to providing the best possible services available”.
The Kessler Center received a $13,000 grant from the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Foundation to support therapy services at The Kessler Center in Rochester, New York. Since its incorporation in 1990, The Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Foundation has greatly benefited the greater Rochester area by supporting non-profit initiatives related to the civic-minded interests of Kilian and Caroline Schmitt. The foundation has made grants for endowed professorships, capital improvements and additions, medical and other scientific research, symposia and music. The Kessler Center is a private special education school offering both residential and day placement for students with developmental disabilities. The grant will be used towards the capital costs of therapy equipment at The Kessler Center, and will contribute to the highly individualized special education and therapy services that children receive in the program.
Julie irwin of the Department of Veterans Affairs was awarded the Easter Seals New York Public Service Award for her work in support of homeless Veterans. As the Careline Manager for Downstate NY and NJ, Julie has played a key role in ESNY's success in reaching Veterans in need, referring them to the agency for support. A tireless worker deeply committed to her clients, Easter Seals New York is very grateful for Juiie's work, and is to proud to honor her with this annual award given to one exceptional public servant.
For the last 13 years, Easter Seals New York has provided vital educational services to the Valhalla Community, operating from the school building at 70 Columbus Avenue. The building is the home of ESNY’s Project Explore Child Development Center. The campus consists of a school building, a fully accessible playground, and a pair of parking lots located on just less than two acres of land. On December 5th ESNY completed the purchase of the building, which will give us a permanent presence in the Valhalla community. The Town chose the Easter Seals bid over larger offers from commercial developers, recognizing the years of commitment the agency has made both to the town and to Westchester County families.
Programs at the school have grown rapidly, especially in the last five years. Currently, the school building comprises 11 classrooms, several specialized therapeutic spaces, and administrative office space, serving 120 students in preschool classes and another 180 with after school programs. Purchasing the building permits Easter Seals New York to expand into currently unused space to create additional classroom and therapeutic areas, to allow the program to serve at least 60 more children in the integrated preschool programs. ESNY also expects to refurbish and upgrade facilities such as the gymnasium and auditorium spaces—enhancing the experiences of the special and general education students who participate in the programs.
In December 2014, Easter Seals New York was approved for a three-year grant of $150,000 from The Dyson Foundation to support the expansion of the agency’s community programs in Port Jervis, New York. The Dyson Foundation works toward improving people's lives in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State through grant funding, promoting philanthropy, and strengthening the capacity of nonprofit organizations.
Through the Dyson Foundation's support Easter Seals New York will hire a Community Liaison to plan and coordinate Community Workshops for Port Jervis residents. Free and open to the public, the Community Workshops will focus on topics that will assist residents in becoming economically self-sufficient. Community Workshops will cover topics such as: financial literacy, parenting, resume writing, dressing for success, and interview skills. Through these workshops the Community Liaison will become a vital force in Port Jervis – connecting residents and families to needed resources, advocating on their behalf, and supporting everyday needs. Through the support of the Dyson Foundation, the Community Liaison will provide opportunities for economically disadvantaged Port Jervis residents to discover financial independence and an improved quality of life.