Notes from the President:
This January 15th, we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a national holiday celebrating his birthday. But did you know that by Congressional designation, the federal holiday is also a National Day of Service?
Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.”
Americans from all walks of life join together on that day to strengthen our communities by bridging barriers and working to create solutions to social problems. Doing so moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”
Here at Easter Seals, we embody those ideals as well, through the work we do every day. For almost 100 years, we’ve been providing exceptional services, education, outreach and advocacy so that all people with disabilities or special needs, including veterans and military families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in our communities. In Easter Seals’ Inclusive Community, as in Dr. King’s Beloved Community, all individuals are valued and people with disabilities and special needs are embraced.
Our hardworking and dedicated staff strive to create a world in keeping with Dr. King’s vision. But we couldn’t do it without the generosity of our supporters and the commitment of our volunteers.
And so on this Day of Service, I’d like to call attention to the service of two such volunteers, my friends Frank Finelli and Channel Hilliard with The Carlyle Group.
Frank is a West Point graduate and Army veteran who is very involved with charitable efforts to assist veterans through his work with groups like the Travis Manion Foundation (which presented Frank with its 2016 Corporate Leadership Award), and spearheads The Carlyle Group’s corporate volunteering partnership with Easter Seals.
Thanks to Frank’s efforts, volunteers from The Carlyle Group’ Washington, DC and Rosslyn, Virginia offices are a regular presence at our Child Development Center of Northern Virginia. Sometimes, the activities are simple, like painting and coloring exercises, free-play on the playground, learning time with flashcards and some dramatic play in the classrooms. Or they could be more intensive, like helping the pre-kindergarten students in our Little Warriors program improve their literacy and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.
Channel serves on our Bright Stars Committee. Bright Stars is one of Easter Seals’ signature events. Thanks to the generosity of our corporate sponsors and volunteers like Channel, thousands of children and adults with disabilities, including veterans, wounded warriors and other deserving families are able to enjoy an exciting night out. At the same time, the event also raises funds for the critical services Easter Seals provides to the DC region. In the past, the event was an evening at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and now will be celebrated with Disney on Ice at the Capitol One Arena on Thursday, February 15th.
When I asked Channel for her thoughts about service work, she told me, “It is our pleasure to serve and continue to serve. I am a very spiritual person and believe that God set the example for us to make sacrifices and serve others. That is the true demonstration of love – serving one another.”
Frank echoed Channel when he said, “In addition to the spiritual point on which Channel and I are completely aligned, as a veteran myself, I am honored to both have served and to now serve those who have served and their families, who make tremendous sacrifices each and every day.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” I know firsthand that people like Frank and Channel answer that question through their deeds. And help make the world a better place.
If you’d like to know more about volunteer opportunities with Easter Seals, whether it be at the corporate level, or as an individual with one of our programs, click here.