It’s About That Time Again- Easter Seals-Valerie Evermon

It’s about that time again. tools

The sound of power tools revving and hammers pounding,

Wood-Stack

the smell of freshly cut wood,

woodworking

and the picture of students working together to create a masterpiece; It’s time for Easter Seals West Georgia’s 6th annual Playhouse Project. 

The Playhouse Project is a fundraiser Easter Seals looks forward to every year. They team up with area schools and local sponsors to build and raffle playhouses to the community. The tickets are only $5.00 and all of the proceeds go directly to our local Easter Seals and the work they are doing in our community.  This fundraiser is a brilliant win-win-win situation. It gives the schools a project for their students to master the art of woodworking, those who win the raffle get a beautiful playhouse at an affordable price, and Easter Seals gets the money they need to continue their work.

This week I was able to visit the participating schools to take pictures of the playhouses as works in progress. We will be using these pictures as promotional material for the fundraiser that will appear on Facebook and on the Easter Seals West Georgia website. It was a privilege to see how passionate the teachers were about the project and how much fun the students were having while working. Their hard work does not stop when the playhouses are complete, the students and teachers also sign up to help sale raffle tickets. 

The playhouses will be complete in March and you will be able to see them for yourself in the Sam’s Club parking lot. If you would like to purchase tickets to win a playhouse, you can find them at Sam’s, Easter Seals, or Daniel Appliance.

This year’s pictures of the completed playhouses are not yet available. For an example, here are the playhouses from last year’s Playhouse Project.

Project-playhouse

I am looking forward to beginning the promotion of this event for Easter Seals.  For more information about this fundraiser visit Easter Seals West Georgia’s website.

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Busy Week But So Worth It, Valerie Evermon, Easter Seals

This week has been a whirlwind! Every day has been busy and has gone by too fast. I have moved faster these past couple of days than I ever thought was possible, and to think that I’m only at Easter Seals for half the day. Tomorrow is the day that starts the re-accreditation process and everyone in the office is going crazy. My main task this week has been to help put together, verify, label, and make corrections on policy handbooks. I have made endless amounts of copies, hole punches, and tabs. I have removed and replaced tons of staples and paperclips. While all of these tasks may seem small,  and a lot like busy work, I am excited to help the directors at Easter Seals any way I can.

Helping the directors came in a different form this week, in between the copies and hole punches, I was sent to the adult wing to observe in one of the rooms. I had expressed the desire to learn more about what goes on in the adult wing, so one day the directors decided it would be a good day for me to do so and sent me down there. That short walk to the end of the hall proved to be the highlight of my day, week even. When I walked into the room, I instantly made eight new friends. Most of them greeted me with a quick wave and a high five, some made squeals of joy, but all of them introduced themselves by telling me their name in sign language. This amazed me. The teacher told me a story of why she decided to teach them sign language. Nine years ago when the teacher started working there, many of the students were unable to communicate. This caused them to become isolated. Seeing these adults so lonely, she decided to teach them a way to communicate so they could make friends. So nine years ago,  her entire class learned sign language together and now her students have friends and can communicate with each other. Her room was transformed from being quiet and cold into a warm, sociable place that her students love to come to. During the few short hours I was there, I learned how to sign most of the alphabet and the colors red, blue, green, and yellow. (We were playing Uno). It was such unforgettable experiences to watch these adults with different disabilities interact with each other, make each other laugh, and be able to communicate.

Although this short visit to the adult wing doesn’t exactly fit into the job description for my internship, it was an experience that will help me in my future career. I love interacting with the participants at Easter Seals and this confirms my desire to work for an organization that helps the disabled community. I wish I could share pictures of my new friends and all of the activities we did together, but due to confidentiality I am not able to. If you are interested in learning more about the adult services Easter Seals offers, visit their website today. This week may have been challenging at times, but the friends I made in the adult wing have been my sunshine. When I pass them in the hall, they get so excited and wave, they want so badly to get my attention. This makes my heart smile. Meeting these participants has made me even more excited to be a part of what Easter Seals West Georgia is doing for the disabled and their families in our community. Visit the blog next week to get an update on all the fundraising events coming up at Easter Seals.

Walk With Me, Easter Seals, Valerie Evermon

Throughout my time in the department, I have been able to sit in and observe many board meetings. These have been great experiences and prepared me for this week when I got to be in the first board meeting that I actually got to give input. This meeting was for a sub-committee that focuses on Walk With ME, an annual fundraiser Easter Seals participates in nationwide. The Walk With Me website says that they have generated $30 million since 2003 through 500 events across the country. Locally, this is the third year for the event and we have raised $40,000. This event is a day full of family fun and serves as a great opportunity for the community to give back to such a wonderful organization. One of this event’s slogans is “Walk, Run, or Roll through the finish line”.  The community gets the opportunity to come alongside children and adults with disabilities and their families to accomplish the same goal, cross the finish line.

For me to be able to help promote this event is very special. My family has participated in the event since the first year, two years ago and we have been the biggest team since then. Last year, my niece was child ambassador for Easter Seals. She was one of the focus stories in all of the year’s fundraising endeavors and was able to be the first person in line to start the walk.

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Because my family is a big supporter in this event, it only seems right for me to take a big step this year and not just participate, but have an active part in promoting it. Currently, I am working on a promotional video. Within the next month, you might begin to see it on local news stations. In the next few weeks, I will help draft a public service announcement so that we can advertise on the radio, as well. I will also be working on sponsorship packets to help encourage businesses in the community to become involved in this event.

I am excited to be involved in every aspect of this event. The next couple of months will be hectic, but very exciting as I get to see my passion and skills come together to create a wonderful outcome. There will be more details about the event in upcoming posts. You can visit the Walk With Me website to get more information and to create team if you are interested.  I hope you continue to “walk” with me through my journey at Easter Seals to see my confidence and skills blossom. Thanks for reading!

Valerie Evermon

Putting Skills Behind the Passion – Valerie Evermon

Passion. This seems to be my word for 2014. I have come to realize just how passionate I am for helping children with disabilities. This desire to help the disabled children in my community started about two and a half years ago. What sparked this desire? My niece was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect that appears in the spinal cord.Image

Every case of spina bifida looks different according to where the defect is along the spinal cord. This was a scary diagnosis because the doctors did not have many positive stories to tell our family. When my niece was born, we learned that her defect was low on her spine, near the tail bone. Because the defect is so low, her bladder and bowels have been affected, and she does not have feeling in her legs below the knees. Her disability has not affected her determination. One doctor did not expect her to be able to walk, but that has not stopped her from trying. She is now able to walk with the help of braces and a walker.ImageImageImage

While these contraptions are a big help, we owe a lot of her progress to the therapy she receives regularly, which is conveniently located inside her daycare, Easter Seals.  What is Easter Seals? It is a daycare facility with the mission to enable children and adults with disabilities to achieve their maximum independence, and to provide support to the families who love and care for them.

Find out more about Easter Seals here

My passion to help other children with disabilities stems from my nieces joy. Although she has a disability, she will not let that hold her back from achieving something she wants. My family strongly believes that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to and we push her to do so. This attitude is so important when working with children with disabilities. Having a disability does not necessarily mean you cannot do something, it simply means you have to find a way to do it differently. Easter Seals shares this mindset and that is why I am so excited to be working with this organization this semester, to put the skills I have learned in the Communication Department into action and to see my passion come to life. I will be helping their fundraising efforts by creating flyers, PowerPoints, videos, and brochures. I will also be heading up their social media sites to make sure this community knows what this organization does and who they help daily. Visit the blog next week to find out more about what is happening at Easter Seals and visit their Facebook page today.

Thanks for reading!

Valerie

3 Lessons Learned – Valerie Evermon

I have been very excited about working with Easter Seals and helping them spread the word about the wonderful work they do. The events and fundraisers they host throughout the year are very important to help them continue to help those in need and the main focus of my internship is telling the community about those through social media outlets. Before I can tell the community about Easter Seals, I found out that I have a lot to learn about them myself. I know the facility as a daycare provider because that is where my niece attends school, but I did not know much about them as a non-profit organization and all that entails. I have learned three things about non-profits this week that has given me even more respect for Easter Seals than I already had.

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#1 Be Organized!

At this moment, Easter Seals is working on getting their re-accreditation to continue to be considered a CARF international organization. This process takes place every three years. During this time, they have to reassess all of their policies and procedures to make certain that they all line up and provide the best care for their participants. If any of the policies have to be rewritten, the revised policy has to be approved by several people. Contacting these people and getting them to sign off on the policies in a timely manner makes this simple task become a long process. When they are reviewing these policies for CARF, they also need to keep in mind the other organizations they work with to ensure that the policies, not only adhere to the CARF guidelines, but also the guidelines of the other organizations as well. Once the policies have been approved, the directors must ensure that all their staff are familiar with the policies and know where to access them if needed. While this is a stressful process, the directors know it is all for the good of their participants.

#2 Be Frugal!

Sharon, the CEO of Easter Seals, saves money whatever way they can. The spending budget for a non-profit organization is not enormous and Sharon does not wish to spend much on office supplies, but more on ways they can make the facility better for the participants. If that means reusing sticky notes several times, so be it. She has also found ways to improve the facility while saving money. The biggest way she does this is by having a bottle cap drive. What do they use all of these bottle caps for? Making outside furniture like benches and picnic tables. By doing this, they save in two big ways; they save the environment because the plastic in the caps is not able to be recycled like the thinner plastic the bottle is made out of, and this furniture is saving them money. It is more durable and is promised to last longer. Being creative is a big part of being frugal and Sharon and the other directors at Easter Seals are very creative.

 bench

#3 Do it all with a smile on your face!

Running a non-profit organization is not easy, it’s actually very stressful. But, the staff at Easter Seals would never let that stress affect the way they interact with their participants. They love the job they are doing and they love the people they are working so hard to help.

smile

I hope these three lessons I have learned have helped you gain a greater respect for the people who work for non-profit organizations and the work that they do.

Remember to check out their website for ideas of how you can donate or be a part of their fundraisers!

Thanks for reading!

Valerie