Locations LLC staff and family paint with purpose

Easter Seals Hawaii wishes to extend a HUGE mahalo to Locations LLC for its support of our mission to empower people with disabilities and special needs to achieve their goals and live independent fulfilling lives.

On Saturday, on May 14, 2016, 15 Locations LLC employees and family members, led by Easter Seals Hawaii board member Brian Stewart along with Locations partners, realtors and administrative team members came to the Easter Seals Hawaii Sultan School on Green Street to paint the walls within our keiki classrooms. Locations also committed the financial resources to facilitate replacement of the flooring and window coverings within our two classrooms.

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This complete makeover by Locations LLC was last done almost twenty years ago and was long overdue. Said Luke Kusumoto, Early Intervention program manager at the Sultan School, “I was truly touched to see so many volunteers with an interest in what we do, who worked so hard start to finish. We’ve been hoping for renovations like this for many years and are excited to reveal it to our families who will benefit from the refurbished rooms. What a nice additional surprise it will be for my staff!”

We commend and thank the professionals at Locations LLC for supporting our mission and those we serve!

Regards,

Ron Brandvold, President & CEO
Easter Seals Hawaii

Maile’s Dream Continues To Raise Awareness and Funds

 “Maile’s Dream”A CELEBRATION OF DIFFERENCES ANNUAL FAIR is a benefit for Easter Seals Hawaii and was held on March 5, 2016.  Today, a check presentation was held at Moanalua High School celebrating the event. $2,180.00 was raised this year for the Easter Seals Hawaii Early Intervention Program.

 

 

Fifteen years ago Washington Middle School adopted Maile’s Dream.  Maile was born with a very rare condition called Apert Syndrome, which is characterized by malformation of the skull, mid-face, hands and feet.  Maile has undergone numerous surgeries for her skull, ears, palate, fingers, toes and mid-face.  She’s currently an 8th grader at Kaimuki Christian School.

The objective of this Fair is to raise awareness and encourage acceptance of differences through activities and special entertainment. Maile’s mother, Cindy Ogata said, “Easter Seals’ Early Intervention Program was there to support us with physical, occupational, speech therapy and a gifted teacher to help with cognitive delays…our objective of the event is to raise awareness and encourage acceptance.”

 

 Now, Maile is a thriving and happy Freshman at Moanalua High School.  Cindy Ogata said that Maile was at first intimidated by starting at such a large school, but her ROTC advisors have also adopted “Maile’s Dream” and have encouraged her growth in High School every step of the way.  Today’s presentation was organized by her ROTC class advisors and she was joined by her classmates.

Proceeds raised through “Maile’s Dream” provides much-needed unrestricted support towards the operations of the Early Intervention Program.

If you would like to also support “Maile’s Dream” you can contact Luke Kusumoto, Sultan Program Manager at  (808) 529-1730 x1002, or email: LukeK@eastersealshawaii.org.

 

Autism Services: Katie Thomas’ Story

For Kathleen Thomas, nothing in the world is better than seeing her daughter, Katie, smile. Diagnosed with autism at a very early age it is imperative to Katie’s health and wellbeing that her life be as stable and consistent as possible, and Kathleen has dedicated her life to making this a reality. Fortunately for her Easter Seals Hawaii has been a true partner and a source of support for many years, and has been there to help her guide Katie through some of life’s greatest challenges.

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When Katie was in the third grade, she enrolled in the Pacific Autistic Center (PAC), where she thrived. A few years later the director of PAC sold the school to Easter Seals Hawaii. When Kathleen explained why it was so important to remain engaged with Easter Seals Hawaii, she said she knew Katie would move seamlessly into adulthood under the umbrella of this established organization. Kathleen said: “I know Katie will thrive here, and be loved, and be safe, and be a part of the community, and be valued, which is all that matters.”

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2014 was an emotionally difficult time for Kathleen and This was also an emotionally difficult time for the family. Katie’s father was diagnosed with cancer, and his greatest fear was for Katie and her future. Fortunately before he passed away, he was comforted in the knowledge that Easter Seals Hawaii’s trained staff would know exactly how to handle this emotional period of the passing of her father. To help her Easter Seals Hawaii therapists put together a photo book with photos of Katie’s father and their family, routinely walked her through what had occurred, and helped her understand why her father would not be returning home.

When Kathleen looks to the future for Katie, her dreams for her daughter are pure and simple. She noted, “I want Katie to be loved, to be valued, to have a purpose and a joy every day of her life. I want her to have a job, be happy, and be healthy. That is what I want, for Katie to have friends and a place that feels like home.”

Easter Seals Hawaii strives to make Kathleen’s dreams a reality for Katie.

Sean Tarrant, Director of the Easter Seals Hawaii Autism Center

Easter Seals Hawaii is very respectful to its tradition of providing a vast range of exceptional services for children and adults diagnosed with disabilities or special needs and their families. It is also committed to evolve and to be responsive to its participants and to the changing needs of the community, so when it recognized a growing need for autism services in Hawaii it took the initiative to expand and grow the program.

In June 2013, Easter Seals Hawaii hired several new full time staff members who brought with them decades of experience in diagnostic and assessment services, in developing effective treatment plans and communication, and, perhaps most importantly, family member support, education, and training. Easter Seals Hawaii was very fortunate to hire Sean Tarrant as its director of autism services.

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Sean has worked for over 15 years within the field of developmental disabilities and applied behavior analysis (ABA), a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. While still pursuing his undergraduate degree in psychology in 1999, Sean began working in the field of ABA as a behavior therapist for adolescents and adults with severe problem behaviors. Since then, he has worked in multiple areas within the field of developmental disabilities and ABA including in-home therapy and parent training, consultation with public and charter schools, residential and center based therapy, and the ethical reduction of severe problem behaviors. Over the years, Sean has come to realize that one of the most important things a parent can do to achieve positive changes in behavior is to increase the level of communication with their child.

Many individuals diagnosed with autism are unable to communicate, which leads to challenging behavior. According to Sean, being able to ask your child what they want and how they feel, and know that they are able to tell you this is incredibly important.
The Easter Seals Hawaii Autism Center is committed to focusing on increasing the
level of communication and also utilizing the many techniques available for increasing functional behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning. It provides complete and coordinated care throughout a child’s life to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior, and empower the individual to realize
his/her full potential.

Kauai Aquaponics Program

Kahiau, Easter Seals Hawaii’s service center in Waimea, Kauai, provides services to adults and children on the west side of the island. Part of the building serves as the Kauai Police Department Waimea sub-station. The police officers are great neighbors who have taken the time to get to know the program and Easter Seals Hawaii participants. We would like to thank Officer Damien Mandiola for generously offering to teach Easter Seals Hawaii participants how to build and maintain an aquaponic system. He donated the entire system as well as 40 golden tilapia fish food and starter plants.

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Officer Damien worked alongside our participants to construct the system and teach our participants and staff how to maintain the right acidity levels for optimal plant growth. Families of participants supported this project by donating more starter plants and fish. Officer Damien continues to oversee this project. As with anything new, there are ups and downs and he has taught our participants to evaluate and overcome obstacles. There were moths and aphids and some of the fish died, but ultimately it was a huge success! All of the vegetables are now used to prepare the daily lunches. The participants learn reading, writing and team work to maintain and operate the aquaponic system. It is also part of a curriculum on nutrition, healthy living, and making healthy choices The system has proven to be a wonderful vehicle for teaching, and an opportunity to expand this system at the service center in Kapaa.

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Tackling Adversity By Helping Others

In one moment, Tisha Takazawa’s life would never be the same. After suffering a brain injury from a car accident at the age of 21, she was forced to re-learn everything from writing, to walking, to even talking. She lost a considerable amount of fine motor skills and the entire right side of her body became weak. She now lives with new physical challenges on a daily basis, but Tisha does not complain. She’s rather humbled by the opportunity to genuinely understand and deeply empathize with those she serves. Tisha has been working with people with disabilities and special needs at Easter Seals Hawaii for over 11 years.
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As the Adult Day Health Program Manager in Hilo, Tisha wakes up every morning with gratitude in her thoughts and happiness in her heart: “Before starting with ESH, I wanted something where I could make more of a meaningful impact. I wanted a change, I felt a calling, and now I’ve fallen in love with the work that I do.” She has been instrumental in the growth of the program, having had started with just five participants to now helping serve over 82. Adult Day Services, intended to provide adults with stimulating environments, opportunities, and experiences through community-based settings and activities, promotes substantial growth among participants and the community alike:
“Our job is to make the community aware, to open their eyes a little at a time, and to show them that people with disabilities are just people, like you and me.”

Tisha recalled a time when a particular gym owner in the community only addressed the staff member accompanying two participants and questioned: “so what can’t they do?” His blatant disregard for the two individuals was not of malicious intent; however, its impact was nevertheless felt. After about five succeeding interactions, the very first thing the owner did was address the participants directly, look at their faces, shake their hands, and ask for their names. This type of transformation exemplifies why Tisha believes the work Easter Seals Hawaii does is so important. Without it, bridging that gap – getting people with disabilities integrated, understood, and accepted within the community – seems unattainable.

Tisha is driven, however, to make a positive change. She embodies that which Easter Seals Hawaii aspires to do every day: change lives with Aloha. After experiencing such discouragement and despair on a personal level, she realized that despite all she had lost, in the end, she really had everything to gain – and remains thankful for all that she has:
“I look forward to coming to work, seeing the participants every day, enjoying their progress and happiness. It’s amazing what people can accomplish when they’re given the chance. [The participants] teach us all a lesson about what’s really important in life. And for that reason, Easter Seals Hawaii is just a good place to be.”

Easter Seals Hawaii Announces New Board Leadership

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Mike Hulser, CEO and Principle Consultant of BizMD, was elected  as the new chair of Easter Seals Hawaii Board of Directors, succeeding Brian Stewart.

Mike Hulser was born in New York and raised in Virginia, where he attended college at Virginia Tech and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. Degree in Economics.

Mike then embarked on a “Fortune 50” career, ultimately achieving the Financial Officer level.

In the late 1990s, Mike entered the Turnaround/Crisis Management Consulting industry, where the industry named him the “Top Turnaround Manager in the United States for 2000.”

In late 2000, Mike came to Hawaii on a consulting engagement as the Interim Chief Financial Officer and Controller of Hawaiian Airlines.

Mike and his wife, Sandy, decided to remain in Hawaii and established his current practice, The Biz MD, helping small and medium size businesses improve their Financial Performance – Profitability and Cash Flow.

In 2009, the U.S. Small Business Administration named The Biz MD the “Financial Services Champion” for the City and County of Honolulu. Additionally, several of Mike’s client businesses have won awards for Industry Leadership, Growth, Profitability and Workplace Quality.

MAHALO Mike for devoting your time, talent, and aloha to Easter Seals Hawaii!