Notes from the President:
As 2017 winds down, it’s a chance to reflect on the past year and Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA’s impact on our community and the supporters who made it possible.
The year started with a personal and professional milestone, as well as an organizational one. There was a passing of the leadership torch at Easter Seals as I succeeded the legendary Lisa Reeves as President and CEO. Lisa retired after 17 years as the head of Easter Seals and 35 years with the organization. She dedicated her professional life to helping the community, and it is both an honor and a responsibility to follow in her footsteps.
The Board of Directors, staff, and community leaders honored Lisa with a farewell celebration in the Richard & Rae Swirnow Center of Excellence in Training. In recognition of her visionary leadership, we dedicated The Lisa A. Reeves Community Room in the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Adult Day Services in The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Inter-Generational Center.
March brought us The M&T Bank Bright Stars. For 20 years Easter Seals has partnered with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to bring joy to children who otherwise might not be able to attend because of their disabilities or special needs. While 2017 marked our final year with “The Greatest Show On Earth,” as the Circus has now closed, we will now be partnering with Disney on Ice to continue the Bright Stars legacy of fun for children and fundraising to support vital Easter Seals services. To learn more about or support Bright Stars at Disney on Ice Presented by M&T Bank on February 15, 2018, please click here.
The Bright Stars event provides vital funding for our programs and helps make profound, positive differences in the lives of children like James. This year, our child development centers helped nearly 400 children reach their potential and receive the highest quality early education, therapy services and equipment they need to thrive.
In May, Easter Seals honored those “Changing Lives” and presented our Advocacy Award to Ellyn Dunford, Military Family Advocate and spouse of General Joseph Dunford, 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Dan Valenzuela, President of Safeway Eastern Division, in recognition of their commitment to advancing opportunities for children and adults with disabilities or special needs, active duty military and veterans and their families.
Held at the Washington Hilton Hotel, the annual awards ceremony and dinner drew more than 600 guests and sponsors, and raised more than $900,000 to support crucial Easter Seals programs throughout the region. During the event, Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Kyle White announced a $10 million investment in Easter Seals by the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) to launch the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic. The Cohen Clinic provides behavioral health and support services to veterans and their families throughout the greater DC region. This transformational investment will expand the reach and impact of our programs and services and change the lives of thousands of veterans and military families in our community.
In 2018 we will present our Advocacy Award to Steven A. Cohen, Chairman & CEO of Point72 Asset Management and Founder of the Cohen Veterans Network as well as General and Mrs. Mark Milley, the 39th Chief of Staff of the US Army and Military Family Advocates. For more information about the 2018 Advocacy Awards, please visit our website here.
The summer was a busy time of construction at Easter Seals as we removed our administrative offices from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Inter-Generational Center and devoted the entire building to client services. As part of that renovation, we’ve now celebrated the Grand Opening of the Cohen Clinic and are already serving over 70 veterans and military family members. It’s an honor to have a recently retired Air Force Colonel, Dr. Tracy Neal-Walden, as the Director of the Clinic, and if you read her guest blog you’ll see why.
The Cohen Clinic is the latest addition to the array of services Easter Seals offers veterans, active duty servicemembers, National Guard and Reservists and their families. The Veteran Staffing Network has now placed over 1900 veterans in 23 states, and coached thousands more as they transition from military to civilian life.
In our three Adult Day Services centers across the region, adults and seniors are thriving each and every day, as are their caregivers. Our staff organizes activities at our centers and in the community, like hayrides, holiday parties, birthday celebrations, gardening and more. We also have the great fortune of having the support of volunteers to help celebrate birthdays, organize fun activities, and help us strengthen the community.
So, as you can see, 2017 was a busy year for Easter Seals and I’m excited to be able to tell you about our priorities and plans for 2018 in my next blog post. But for now, let me wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons and my hopes for peace and happiness in your lives and across the world.