Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut has a long and proud record of delivering extraordinary care and programs to some of the most vulnerable in the community.  For 75 years, Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut has been a leader in expanding access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities for those with disabilities and our veteran population striving for full access and inclusion.

Incorporated in 1948, Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut had humble beginnings in a small space on Franklin Avenue in Hartford with two paid staff, a handful of dedicated volunteers, and essential equipment contributed by various service clubs, foundations, and corporations. The organization, initially called the Hartford Community Workshop, had a primary caseload focused on treating patients with tuberculosis which later evolved to rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities. From these simple beginnings, the organization has grown exponentially to become one of the primary providers of vocational and rehabilitation services, as well as veterans’ services in the state. 

Some milestones reached along the way include:

  • The incorporation of the Hartford Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center on Franklin Avenue in Hartford in 1948.
  • In 1954, Easterseals expanded to a larger, more prominent Harford location on Holcomb Street.
  • In 1976, Easterseals invented the HeadLite, a firefighting headlamp designed and produced in an Easterseals sheltered workshop program and manufactured by the organization for over 20 years.
  • In 1983 the organization was certified as a Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility, a designation the organization continues to hold today.
  • In 1991, Easterseals moved to its current location on Deerfield Road in Windsor, Connecticut and its building maintenance service, currently known as EnviroClean, was developed to train and employ people with significant disabilities.
  • In 1998, to better reflect the growth of the services and geography served, the organization changed its name to Easter Seals Greater Hartford Rehabilitation Center.
  • In 2008, EnviroShred was founded as an Easter Seals Social Enterprise Business.
  • In 2009, as a result of the reorganization of some Easterseals affiliates in Connecticut, the organization took on programs and services in Eastern Connecticut, and subsequently changed its name to Easter Seals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut, which was changed again in 2017 to reflect the national branding of Easterseals from two words to one.
  • In 2018, Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut began providing transitional housing to veterans in need at its Rocky Hill location.
  • On Veterans Day in 2021, Easterseals Veterans Rally Point, a national model and center of excellence opened to serve veterans, active-duty military, guard, reserve and families

For complete Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut history, click here.

Today, the organization provides a wide range of high-quality programs for nearly 1500 patients, clients, and families every year.  With our services in education, healthcare, and employment, we provide essential services and on-the-ground support through all stages of life including: 

  • Career Development Services - Easterseals believes everyone who wants to work should have the opportunity to do so in a meaningful way. Our Career Services team helps individuals build their skills, continue their education, find meaningful employment, and provides support throughout the employment process to both employees and employers.  
  • Adult Day Support - Our compassionate Adult Day Support Services provide engaging community-based recreational and vocational activities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in a safe and welcoming environment.
  • EnviroClean - This janitorial social enterprise directly employs individuals with disabilities, at market wages, and fulfills their goals of independence, self-sufficiency and community integration.
  • EnviroShred - EnviroShred operates a secure document destruction, e-recycling and hard drive destruction business that both offers employment opportunities and supports our mission and career services programs.
  • Medical Rehabilitation - Our outpatient center is comprised of experienced providers who specialize in treating people with various physical, emotional, and cognitive needs.  Our multidisciplinary team of physical, occupational and speech therapists along with    behavioral health professionals is dedicated to helping everyone achieve the best possible outcomes.  
  • Autism Services – Our Neuropsychologists are experts in carefully assessing and diagnosing children with autism and other developmental concerns. We provide parents, and educators with useful information, tools and strategies.  Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern CT is also a provider of the PEERS social skills curriculum for young adults with Autism and related diagnoses.
  • Dementia Diagnostic Center - This Center is designed to aid in the evaluation and diagnosis of dementia, document possible changes in functioning, assist in developing a treatment plan, and provide resources to individuals, families, and caregivers.
  • Easterseals Veterans Rally Point Easterseals Veterans Rally Point is a unique center of excellence for our military service members and their families.  Bringing together health and wellness, employment services, behavioral health, case management, veterans service officers, peer support and many other services, VRP staff bring their own lived experience to working with veterans, active-duty military, guard, reservists and families. 

Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut is one of (70) independent affiliates in the US. Through our national network of affiliates, Easterseals provides essential services and on-the-ground supports to more than 1.5 million people each year — from early childhood programs for the critical first five years, to autism services, to medical rehabilitation and employment programs, to veterans’ services, and more. Our public education, policy, and advocacy initiatives positively shape perceptions and address the urgent and evolving needs of the one in four Americans living with disabilities today. Together, we’re empowering people with disabilities, families and communities to be full and equal participants in society.

Easterseals National History

Easterseals founder Edgar Allen

Tragedy Leads to Inspiration

In 1907, Ohio-businessman Edgar Allen lost his son in a streetcar accident. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. Through this new hospital, Allen was surprised to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Inspired to make a difference, in 1919 Allen founded the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind.

The Birth of the Seal

In the spring of 1934, the organization launched its first Easter "seals" campaign to raise money for its services. To show their support, donors placed the seals on envelopes and letters. Cleveland Plain Dealer cartoonist J.H. Donahey designed the first seal. Donahey based the design on a concept of simplicity because those served by the charity asked "simply for the right to live a normal life." The lily - a symbol of spring - was officially incorporated as the National Society for Crippled Children’s logo in 1952 for its association with new life and new beginnings.

Expansion of the organization

In 1945, we expanded our vision across the country and in communities nationwide when we opened our services to adults and returning WWII veterans.

Easterseals seals
Easterseals Emerges

The overwhelming public support for the Easter "seals" campaign triggered a nationwide expansion of the organization and a swell of grassroots efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. By 1967, the Easter "seal" was so well recognized, the organization formally adopted the name "Easter Seals."

Poster that says
Americans with Disabilities Act

Prior to the passing of the ADA on July 26, 1990, Easterseals was a leading advocate for the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and actively lobbied in Washington and across the country for its adoption.  Easterseals also created some of the most powerful advocacy pro-ADA public service campaign with messages to support the law and its implementation. After the passing of the ADA, Easterseals worked tirelessly to ensure that all people are empowered to access their rights under the ADA. Read more about Easterseals history with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Easterseals Today

Today, Easterseals provides essential services and on-the-ground supports to more than 1.5 million individuals and families each year through its national network of Affiliates in communities nationwide. Easterseals offers a variety of home and community-based services in four distinct areas of impact.  

ENRICHING EDUCATION: Programs designed to help children and adults learn—and often re-learn—basic functions, master skills needed to develop and thrive, and be sharp and active as they age.
•    Early childhood education
•    Inclusive child care
•    Educational programming and training throughout the lifespan
•    Assistive technology
•    Social skills coaching
•    Enrichment activities

ENHANCING HEALTH: Hands-on, comprehensive, vital therapies and services which ensure health and wellness so that children and adults can reach their full potential.
•    Early intervention services
•    Autism services
•    Physical therapy
•    Occupational therapy
•    Speech and hearing therapies
•    Behavioral health services

EXPANDING EMPLOYMENT: A range of training, placement and related services that help people prepare for or re-enter the workforce.
•    Workforce development
•    Job placement
•    Assistive technology
•    Supported employment
•    Senior employment
•    Veteran integration programs

ELEVATING COMMUNITY: Programs for children, adults, and caregivers to live, relax, connect, and thrive within their communities. These programs strengthen the local community overall and encourage individual engagement and participation in their local communities.
•    Camp
•    Respite services
•    Recreation programming
•    Community living, residential and group homes
•    Independent living services
•    Day programs
•    Transportation services

The next 100 years

A young boy wearing a hearing aid looks to his left

In 2019, Easterseals celebrated 100 years of impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities or other special needs, their families and communities throughout America as a powerful advocate and leading provider of innovative services. In marking this milestone, Easterseals reflected on its legacy of delivering equality, dignity and independence to people with disabilities while embracing a future where every one of us is 100% included and 100% empowered. 

Since its founding in 1919, Easterseals has remained committed to ensuring that the needs of children and adults with disabilities, veterans and older adults are met with services and supports to help them live, learn, work and play in their communities.  By combining on-the-ground presence, deep expertise and diverse programs, 69 Easterseals affiliates nationwide are advancing change to assure that people with disabilities and other special needs can thrive in their communities. 

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