Easter Seals Hawaii participants tour the USS O’Kane

USSOKANE3This month, five of our Easter Seals Hawaii adult participants were given the opportunity to tour the Navy guided missile destroyer USS O’Kane. Community Based Provider and Program Assistant Kacey Shreve and her husband Bill Shreve coordinated the excursion.

USSOKANE4Mahalo to the USS O’Kane crew for giving us a personal tour and showing us what you do! We had a blast!

For more on ESH’s visit to the USS O’Kane, click here.

ESH empowers participants like public speaker Nicole Kelly to achieve their goals


Easter Seals Hawaii Case Coordinator Joanne Getty plays a big part in supporting participant Nicole Kelly in her journey as a public speaker.

Text: Brandi Salas

Photo: Kaydee Johannsen

When Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) participant Nicole Kelly enters a room, she will greet you with a “hello” and a rough handshake. She’s confident, friendly and even a bit intimidating, but in a good way. This woman is no wallflower, she knows exactly who she is and can easily engage an audience of 50 people. Nicole exemplifies ESH’s mission to empower individuals with disabilities or special needs to achieve their goals and become independent.

This 37-year-old is a seasoned public speaker and the top ESH trainer in safety and emergency procedures at ESH. Nicole has traveled across the country to speak at an international conference, at Special Olympics events and plans to introduce her “Feeling Safe, Being Safe” project to the local community, which trains and teaches individuals with disabilities how to prepare for emergencies or natural disasters.


A Case Coordinator not only helps set goals for participants and track their progress, but he/she also motivates each participant to go beyond expectations and become independent.

Behind this amazing woman is Case Coordinator, Joanne Getty, who supports Nicole’s talks at events. “Joanne types up my notes and pamphlets, prepares my presentations and tells me when I have to present,” said Nicole. Sometimes Joanne introduces Nicole and her background to the audience. Like Nicole, Joanne believes in safety awareness, she does not share the same love for public speaking.

Aside from being Nicole’s behind-the-scenes coordinator, Joanne has many responsibilities as her Case Coordinator. “We are a jack-of-all-trades,” she said. Case Coordinators help participants decide and set their personal goals, help them work towards accomplishing their goals, keep track of their progress, advocate for themselves and much more.

Joanne discovered her passion when she moved to Hawaii from Washington five years ago to be closer to family. She was looking for a job that would give back to the community. “In college, I took some Disability Education classes and volunteered at The Arc. I also held a lot of jobs to help put myself through college and one of them at a local facility for young children with autism. I guess it struck a chord with me. I also worked with youth at an alternative school and decided that I loved working with individuals with disabilities but also loved working with older people. That’s why this job seemed perfect,” she said.

Joanne is just one of many other caring Case Coordinators at ESH. Currently, she works with participants in the Adult Day Health program as well as the participants in the Work Crew program and several participants out in the community with their Personal Assistance/Habilitation (PAB) workers. She said, “The number (of Case Coordinators) is constantly changing because we are always changing and growing the programs.”

In Joanne’s words, an ESH Case Coordinator is an advocate and supporter. “I think that we are here to make sure they (the participants) are getting what they want out of services and that their voices are being heard,” she said. “I make sure they know the steps to take to set a goal and keep it functional and meaningful to the person. It helps to always involve the staff that is working with each participant and get their feedback as well.”


ESH participant Nicole Kelly is just one of many participants that Joanne supports. They have both changed each others’ lives through ESH.

At ESH, a Case Coordinator explores many opportunities for participants and supports them in completing their goals, like speaking at international conferences and events. “I think it’s exciting to do something different and to see what people like Nicole are really capable of when given these exciting opportunities. It’s different from things we have offered before and gives us incentive to offer these things in the future, “said Joanne.

Working with Nicole and seeing her progress with such confidence has been exciting and fulfilling for Joanne. “She changes the way I look at things.”

A statewide charity walk connects the ESH ohana

The statewide 2013 Visitor Industry Charity Walk was exciting, fun and filling! The charity walk attracted more than 14,000 walkers in Hawaii! The Visitors Industry Charity Walk on all islands raised a total of $1.67 million for Hawaii’s nonprofits. This year, Maui raised the most money out of all the islands for the third year in a row. ESH President and CEO Christopher E. Blanchard was ecstatic that ESH on all islands were able to participate. He said, “It is a demonstration of the commitment of our ESH staff to our Easter Seals Hawaii ohana.” For ESH, it was their first time to participate as an organization. Blanchard said, “We were out there as a family. The charity walk connected our Easter Seals Hawaii ohana across the islands. Although each island did it independently, they all had the same goal: to benefit and support the state’s nonprofits.”


This is just a small group of our ESH Oahu walkers! Mahalo to all of our staff, families and friends for coming out to support!

On Oahu, about 60 ESH staff, family members and friends braved the humid air and rising sun not only to represent ESH, but to thank hotel staff walkers for participating and supporting local organizations. The walk was abundant in local cuisine and tasty snacks that left most walkers stuffed after the final sixth mile. ESH received recognition by radio hosts for their enthusiasm and participation. 6,800 walkers participated in the Oahu walk and raised $452,000 for Hawaii nonprofits. As part of Development’s 2013 plan to raise more funds, Iwalani Dayton, Vice President of Development, initiated the participation of Easter Seals Hawaii on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island to be involved with the largest charity walk statewide.


ESH Maui proudly represented the red seal of Aloha!


In Maui, the overcast sky did not discourage ESH staff and participants from walking! They had a good time talking story and taking photos during the 3.1 mile walk. According to Maui Now, the Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk raised a total of $701,716 for dozens of local organizations. Our ESH Maui staff was among the 2,327 walkers. Thanks for the photos Panui!



The Kauai Visitors Industry Charity Walk featured entertainment and a Zumba warm up! ESH Kauai proudly represented the organization with 11 walkers and 11 volunteers at the ESH booth with a DJ, a refreshing misting station and a colorful doggie water station! ESH kept the 2.9 mile walk interesting and motivating with the DJ’s energetic music and cheerleaders. The Kauai walk had a total of 2,133 walkers and raised $200,992 for Hawaii nonprofits. The charity walk is nothing new for ESH Kauai, they have been participating for 30 years.


ESH President & CEO Christopher E. Blanchard poses with his brother-in-law Craig Hawkins in Kona. 


ESH President and CEO Christopher Blanchard, his brother-in-law and an ESH participant joined nearly 3,000 walkers at the Hawaii Island Visitor Industry Charity Walk in Kona! The walk was four miles long and raised more than $228,119 for Hawaii nonprofits.

According to officials, the Visitor Industry Charity Walk is one of the biggest fundraisers in the state. It started in 1978 and has since raised a total of $26.3 million for Hawaii charities. Easter Seals Hawaii thanks all hotel staff and those involved in coordinating such a successful charity walk, it made us feel great to be part of such a giving and caring community.

ESH staff and participant speak at the Pacific Rim International Conference

PACRIMCase Coordinator Joanne Getty and participant/public speaker Nicole Kelly train others how to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies. (Photo: Kaydee Johannsen)

Participant Nicole Kelly, Case Coordinator Joanne Getty, Safety and Quality Assurance Manager Heather Mossinger and Assistive Technology Manager Eric Arveson proudly represented ESH at The Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity last week! Approximately 1000 people attended the two-day conference, which was held at the Hawai’i Convention Center. The conference brings professionals and international organizations geared towards assisting people with disabilities together to share studies, techniques and programs that work in their respective countries.

Seasoned public speaker and participant Nicole Kelly and her case coordinator Joanne Getty held a breakout session that focused on safety procedures and preparation. The title was Feeling Safe, Being Safe, which trains people with disabilities how to prepare for natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes. 37-year-old Nicole drew a crowd with her confident speaking skills and passionate message about being safe during an emergency. “Nicole is our most experienced trainer at Easter Seals Hawaii…she is the reason why most people attended the workshop (at the PacRim Conference). They wanted to see her,” said Joanne. Nicole continues to train her peers at ESH and plans to do more talks and training in the community.

In addition to Nicole and Joanne’s presentation, Assistive Technology Manager, Eric Arveson joined Dr. Jim Skouge and Brian Kajiyama in their presentation to honor the work and life of Dr. Richard Radtke, a world-renown marine biologist, advocate, mentor for individuals with disabilities and former ESH board member. “The conference was fascinating because it covered such a wide range of topics, explored various cultures and innovations,” said Arveson. Safety and Quality Assurance Manager Heather Mossinger co-presented with Kevin Dierks, the Hawaii Therap Representative. Their presentation was titled, Quality Assurance: The Science of Meaningful Lives, which is an online documentation system that ESH currently uses and how it provides meaningful outcomes and goals for people with disabilities. She said, “It (the conference) is a great place to network with so many different facets of people that provide similar services as us. There are so many people from other countries, Australia provided the same types of services that we do, but their country was so much more advance in terms of providing services for people with disabilities. It was cool.”

ESH is so proud of their staff and talented participant Nicole! They all did an excellent job at representing the organization and Hawaii at the conference.

Support ESH Kauai & get a quote for your auto insurance!

Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) in Kauai teamed up with GEICO to raise money for the ESH Kauai Early Intervention program, the Adult Day Health program and service centers this month! GEICO will donate $5 each time someone calls them for a quote for auto insurance. All you have to do is pick up the phone, dial 1-800-947-AUTO, ask for a quote and mention Easter Seals Hawaii! This is for the month of May only. Once GEICO reaches 200 quotes, they will donate $10 per quote. If you’re in Kauai, call now and change a life!

Note: Calls must be coming from Kauai in order to be counted.

Maile’s Dream event raises $4,097 for Easter Seals Hawaii



Maile Ogata presents a check for $4,097 to Easter Seals Hawaii with students from Washington Middle School.

Easter Seals Hawaii received a check for $4,097 from the 9th Annual “Maile’s Dream: A Celebration of Differences” awareness event at Washington Middle School on Monday! The event was created by 13-year-old Maile Ogata, who was born with Apert’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that can lead to facial and limb anomalies. Maile’s dream is to teach the community to accept others who may appear different. The event included games, entertainment, activities, food and auctions. Proceeds raised were donated to Easter Seals Sultan and East Sultan Early Intervention programs.


Maile’s mother, Cindy Ogata said, “Our objective of the event is to raise awareness of difference through activities and special entertainment to encourage acceptance. When Maile came into my life 13 years ago, I would never imagine all the blessings that would come our way over the years. The Sultan Easter Seals Hawaii Early Intervention Program was there to support us with physical, occupational, speech therapy and a gifted teacher to help with cognitive delays.” Maile exited the program ten years ago as well as the special education system by kindergarten. Currently Maile is in the 6th grade at a private school.

A big mahalo goes out to Maile, her family, Washington Middle School teacher Roxanne Kaino (who helped organize student efforts in coordinating the event) and principal Michael Harano.