Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Help (and Hope) For All

Sorry, guys! I never meant to go so long without posting. Over two months *yikes* But life has been insanely busy, what with a new job (finally!) and trying to find a new place to live.

You know how that goes :)

Once again, I'd like to devote my post to deserving organizations that are devoted to helping disabled people live full and as independent as possible lives. One of them I know about only from seeing their commercials on television, and my visit to their website for research while writing this post. The other is a group I've known of for years thanks to my mom, and for personal reasons, it's near and dear to my heart.

Easter Seals

While researching this group, I was astounded by the history of it. The original group (under the name of National Society for Crippled Children) was the first ever of this type. And it came about from tragedy, as so many wonderful things often do.

Here is an excerpt from their website that tells the history of the group:

The Story of Easter Seals

Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for nearly 90 years. From child development centers to physical rehabilitation and job training for people with disabilities, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life's challenges and achieve personal goals.

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 by this discovery, in 1919 Allen founded what became known as 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 Easter Seals' logo in 1952 for its association with resurrection and new life and has appeared on each seal since.

Easter Seals 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."

Easter Seals Today

Easter Seals offers help, hope and answers to more than a million children and adults living with autism and other disabilities or special needs and their families each year. Services and support are provided through a network of more than 550 sites in the U.S. and through Ability First Australia. Each center provides exceptional services that are individualized, innovative, family-focused and tailored to meet specific needs of the particular community served.

And the services they offer, especially for children, are amazing. They have child development centers that serve over 7,000 children in the US. It is the largest of its type of child care centers in the US.

What so many people don't realize with disabled people is that the sooner they have the help and support they need, the more independent they learn to be. Easter Seals recognizes that and strives to help these children grow to their fullest potential.

But they don't forget the adults and families either. They have medical services and job training and so much more. If I tried to list everything they offer, this post would never end. Definitely a wonderful group and a worthy cause if you ever have spare money that you're looking to donate.


As those of you who have followed this blog know, I am steadily going blind, and the doctors say that there is nothing they can do to stop it. Because of that and my mom's association with Fidelco, this organization is very close to my heart.

Fidelco is a group that trains guide dogs, and their clients range all over North America, though the group is based in New England. My mom spent years as a foster mom for Fidelco pups, raising them until they were a year old and they left for their intensive training.

Although other groups use other types of dogs, Fidelco trains only German shepherds. They are intelligent, caring dogs that are extremely loyal to their masters.

Some of the things the dogs are trained to do, that I personally find interesting, are: to lay under their owner's feet, between the feet and the chair legs, so the owner always knows where they are; and to nudge a tiny bell near the base of the door when they need to go out. Neat tricks.

I'm hoping, when my eyes are bad enough, that I will be lucky enough to get a Fidelco dog to help me remain as independent as I've always been.

Here is a youtube video that they link to on their site called Share the Vision. Since I'm writing this at work, I haven't seen it. Youtube is blocked from these computers. (That's also why this post has no pictures.) Let me know what you think of it.