I hope this message finds you well, healthy, and safe.
As you may know, this year, due to COVID-19, we have had to postpone our 35th annual Golf Tournament. In its place, we have launched two projects to raise the critical funds lost as a result.
The first initiative is our Hero Campaign. It focuses on encouraging our corporate sponsors and longtime donors to make a gift in place of this year's postponed golf tournament and auction. For 35 years, event attendees and committee members have made a profound impact on our mission by giving both their time and donations. We see each one as a hero. This year, while we may not celebrate in-person, we are creating a space for our partners to continue in this journey of support.
Our second initiative is the virtual social media campaign, Make the Putt for Easterseals. We're excited to launch this campaign today, Tuesday, September 1. Make the Putt for Easterseals has two goals: 1) raise money, and 2) raise awareness of the life-changing work we do every day. The project asks people to record themselves making a putt, nominate others to do the same, and donate. You can see the first few videos by visiting: www.maketheputt.org. I hope you will consider making a video to help those we support. Get as creative as you like!
Festival is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2. We have not yet determined if the gala will be in person or hosted as a virtual event. Thankfully, our committee and special events team have been working hard to make Festival just as successful as ever. They have been working with production companies that, if needed, can support an online virtual event that would include several amazing videos, bands, and celebrity appearances. Whether it is in-person or online, you definitely will not want to miss this fantastic evening of entertainment, auctions, and a lot of fun.
Get out the Disability Vote
The fact that over 25% of the American voting population has a disability goes mostly unnoticed. We want to change that this election. In mid-September, we will launch the We are the 25% marketing and advocacy campaign. The campaign will highlight that 25% of the eligible voting population in America, 61 million Americans, identify as having a disability. In 2018, just 14.3 million voters with a disability voted. This year, we are committed to changing that while highlighting our disability community as one of the most powerful voter blocks in our nation's history.
Our We are the 25% campaign has an assortment of significant initiatives that will run right up until election day. These include many public service announcements from celebrities, billboard ads throughout St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield, a major social media presence, mailing, newspaper placements, letters to the editor, registration drives, and get out the vote efforts.
If you haven't already, please take a moment to like our Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up to date, follow, and share this exciting project.
We continue to navigate the challenges that come with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff has handled each issue with grace and professionalism. We currently have two people we support, and three staff members who have received COVID-19 diagnoses. Although we wish for a day with zero cases, these numbers are moving in the right direction.
Our Community Living staff is still providing direct support to individuals every hour of every day to ensure their daily needs are met. We are using our infection control policies and extra precautions, doing everything we can to keep the people we support, families, and staff healthy and safe.
We have successfully adapted the resources needed to empower anyone who needs us to communicate directly with staff face-to-face online through our telehealth program. In some cases, our staff is dropping off learning materials on people's front porches. We have also created virtual social groups that children with autism can use to work on social skills in an online group setting. Additionally, for some of the youngest people we support, we are offering online storytime.
The fact is that our policies focused on infection controls continue to work, as well as our staff's ability to adapt to the needs of those who turn to us whether it is online through telehealth or in-person with one-on-one care. Our essential caregivers are showing up and changing lives every day.
As always, thank you for your support of Easterseals. Our work would be impossible without the support of our major donors. Your trust in us means the world to each of us, know that we will be here today, tomorrow and for generations to come because of you and people like you.
Chief Executive Officer