Photo by Madoline Markham
1012 Easter Seals
Technology Instructor Dana Chang and students in her computer class, which prepares them for jobs.
Allison Nichols, Marketing Manager for Easter Seals, recalls once talking to the mother of a man with autism about what was going to happen to her son when she wasn’t around anymore. Thankfully, Nichols knew just how to comfort her.
Easter Seals’ adult facility focuses on teaching capable disabled adults how to be ready to go into a workplace. The organization teaches computer skills, resume writing, interview skills, work readiness and more. When disabled persons reach the age of 21 and no longer have a place in their school, they sometimes find it difficult to find somewhere to feel comfortable. Easter Seals provides a place where they can feel accepted as well as learn how to be prepared for life on their own.
“Having services later on gave her some kind of peace,” Nichols said of her discussion.
In March, Easter Seals will hold its annual “Walk with Me” event, in which participants and organizations can walk side by side with Easter Seals’ ambassadors, children and adults who are picked to represent the organization throughout the year. Ambassadors are assigned before the walk so the teams gain a personal connection to the cause.
“If you’re learning someone’s story, you’re more likely to try harder to raise money,” Nichols said.
The national non-profit organization has run an adult care facility in Homewood and a pediatric facility in Shelby County since the 1960s. Nichols said the organization will soon be moving from its Beacon Parkway West site in Homewood to a location closer to downtown. They hope to get more involved before and after they move.
“One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is that there’s a real disconnect in the community,” Nichols said, “We’d love to get more involved.”
One reason is that the money Easter Seals raises at events and fundraisers stays local to benefit participants. Its fundraising makes it possible for the organization to accept patients who cannot afford to pay for themselves. And those students, when helped by dedicated employees and volunteers at Easter Seals, can achieve great things.
“They are extra hard workers,” said Homewood resident Dana Change, who teaches individually paced classes in Easter Seals’ Computer Technology Lab five days a week. “They push themselves in class.”
Change said within four to six weeks some students increase their typing speed from six words per minute to 35 or 40 and move on to learn accuracy and Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
“Some of them have never been on a computer, but some come in with an email address,” she said. “What they achieve is amazing.”
Working with the people whom Easter Seals serves is close to the hearts of their staff and volunteers.
“This is my ministry,” said Kandis Harris, a pediatric speech-language pathologist and outpatient rehab program manager. “I feel that giving the gift of communication to a child who is frustrated is the most rewarding opportunity in the world.”
Birmingham Junior Board Member John Ellis also spoke of the importance of the each person they serve.
“I love having the opportunity to tell more people about this organization,” he said. “Seeing the smiles on their faces, it’s really about them.”
To learn more about Easter Seals, visit eastersealsbham.org. If you would like to volunteer with Easter Seals, contact Allison Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org. The public is also welcome to stop by either location for more information. Their adult facility is located at 200 Beacon Parkway West, and the pediatric facility is located at 2685 Pelham Parkway.