Employment Services – Nalu’s Story

Nalu Kauwe-Simeona began working for Pizza Hut Hawaii (Puainako Shopping Center location), in Hilo, Hawaii on March 31, 2016. Nalu’s journey towards seeking competitive employment began with Discovery – a comprehensive process that focuses on identifying the job seeker’s abilities, strengths, values, hobbies and interests towards employment. Through Discovery, Nalu’s love for Pizza inspired him to someday work for Pizza Hut Hawaii.

In support of Nalu’s career goals, Easter Seals Hawaii Employment Services partnered with Restaurant General Manager Michelle Moku to coordinate a situational assessment – with intentions to match Nalu’s vocational abilities to the employers’ specific needs. Nalu’s positive work ethic was the perfect fit for cleaning the dining area after lunch operations. A customized position was created and Nalu was soon hired as an official crew member of Pizza Hut Hawaii. His responsibilities include filling the ice dispenser machine, wiping tables and windows, scrubbing the window sills, cleaning the buffet line and sneeze guards and sweeping the floors.Pizzahut1.jpg

Through employment, Nalu’s independence has sky-rocketed. Since his official hiring date in March, Nalu needed just two months of hands-on job coaching services to maximize his independence at work, with emphasis on building relationships with his co-workers. Today, he works independently, without the need of an outside job coach and enjoys the natural support he receives from his supervisor and co-workers. “We enjoy having Nalu as part of the team; he arrives to work with a great attitude and looks forward to working every day,” said co-worker Cassi Kaneda, who monitors Nalu’s job performance.

In addition, Nalu learned how to independently catch a taxi to work from our ADH program, walk safely home after work, budget his earnings, and spend his hard earned money. Nalu’s dream is to someday save enough money to purchase his very own Ford Mustang GT.

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Nalu’s success story continues to inspire many. “This is just the beginning,” said Lahaina Olsen-Kuroda, Senior Employment Associate, who worked closely with Nalu throughout the entire employment process. “Everyone, regardless of the disability, has a unique set of skills that can benefit a business.   The key is finding the right fit for both the job seeker and the employer.” Nalu’s employment success opens the door for the next job seeker and helps educate businesses on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. Michelle Moku, said it best when initially approached on the idea of hiring people with disabilities, “Everybody deserves an opportunity to work!”

Special thanks to Pizza Hut Hawaii for their partnership and commitment in building a better community!

Nalu Pizza Hut

Michelle Moku, Nalu Kauwe-Simeona, & Cassi Kaneda

Easter Seals Hawaii CARF Accreditation Renewed

Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) recently underwent the important and comprehensive CARF accreditation process involving nearly every person associated within the organization – led by Melissa King-Hubert, Safety and Quality Assurance Manager and Jennifer Schemer-Lang, VP Programs and Services.

What is CARF?
CARF = Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

CARF is a non-profit organization that for more than 45 years developed and maintained current, field-driven standards that improve the value and responsiveness of programs and standards delivered to people in need of life enhancement services (from CARF Manual).

ESH first achieved accreditation in 2007; and every three years since. As an affiliate of Easter Seals national organization, ESH is required to pursue a third-party evaluation, and CARF is one of the accrediting bodies and with standards most relevant to the services provided by ESH.

Why is CARF accreditation important?
The CARF accreditation process is one of continuous improvement – to improve the outcomes for the organization and the persons served. The process is distinct from a compliance audit or contract monitoring. Attention to CARF standards should not be a once-every-three-year effort; rather the standards can be guidepost for what we do and how we might improve.

Most importantly, achieving CARF accreditation assures internal and external audiences or stakeholders that ESH maintains a culture of accountability AND improvement in both our business practices and services we provide.

In the fall of 2015, ESH submitted its application to continue accreditation by CARF (which would expire in May 2016). Almost immediately ESH began a “self-study” to review all program and business policies and procedures, to gather performance data, to update all records and files, and to educate staff about the Standards and the survey process.

Melissa convened multiple meetings of senior managers to review standards related to business practices. Melissa crafted a weekly “CARF Countdown” eNews to all Program Managers and Senior Staff – to help educate and inform and begin the process of gathering documentation to be submitted as part of the survey. All policies and procedures were reviewed and revised by staff in preparation for the surveyors visits.

The surveyors visited ESH April 27-29, 2016 with one administrative surveyor remaining at Green Street to review and discuss all business practices, consult with several Board members, meet with Senior Management, while the others visited program locations, reviewed records, met with families or other constituents/stakeholders, looked at vehicles, met with participants and staff, and learned about ESH.

At the exit or closing conference with all surveyors present, Senior Managers, Program Managers and others, ESH received preliminary recommendations from the surveyors.

 

As a result of this process, Easter Seals Hawaii is proud to be CARF-acredited for another 3 year term!

April Is Easter Seals Hawaii Awareness Month

2016 marks Easter Seals Hawaii 70th Anniversary of providing programs and services to generations of individuals and families in Hawaii who live with disabilities or special needs.

In honor of this momentous anniversary, April has been designated Easter Seals Hawaii Awareness Month via Proclamations sponsored by Mayor’s from Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island, and Kauai on behalf of their respective counties.

Commemorating its 70th anniversary this year, we mark this special anniversary with a one hour prime time television special airing April 24 at 6:30p- 7:30p on KFVE channel 5.  In this documentary film directed by award-winning filmmaker, Edgy Lee, the diversity of families and the vast array of needs served by Easter Seals Hawaii over the past 70 years, is revealed.  Historical highlights and personal reflections span decades. They include stories from community supporters like Don Robbs, Danny Kaleikini, Ed Sultan and others.   Whether one is familiar with Easter Seals Hawaii services or new to learning about Autism Spectrum Disorder, Customized Employment (where businesses hire Easter Seals Hawaii clients) or Youth Enrichment services that empower young people through skill development to maximize their independence as they embark upon adulthood and build their self esteem – this is a biopic about a great legacy of a community service organization in Hawaii.  Most compelling are the real-world glimpses into the daily lives of children and their families, Hawaii families who found themselves at childbirth, unexpectedly stepping into the world of special needs.

Narrated by Danny Kaleikini, the 70th Anniversary TV Special “Easter Seals Hawaii: Serving Hawaii’s Families for 70 Years,” the documentary film takes you into a unique and different world, a reality that redefines “ohana” to include not only family members and close friends, but dedicated staff and the many volunteers whose every day jobs are to provide life-enhancing services to people with disabilities and special needs so they may achieve independent fulfilling lives.

 Our programs and services at Easter Seals Hawaii are as important and necessary today as ever, and our dedicated staff, like their predecessors, work hard every day to empower people with disabilities and special needs to achieve their goals and live independent fulfilling lives,” said Ron Brandvold, CEO of Easter Seals Hawaii. “Through a 70th anniversary TV Special and a Gala dinner event, we look forward to honoring many individuals who have helped shape our organization and to sharing our vision for providing disability services well into the future.”  Ron Brandvold, President and CEO.

WHAT:          “Easter Seals Hawaii: Serving Hawaii’s Families for 70 Years”
WHEN:          Sunday, April 24, 2016; 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
WHERE:        Aired on KFVE, Channel 5, (UHF Digital Channel 22)
INFO:             www.eastersealshawaii.org

 About Easter Seals Hawaii

Offering programs that offer a range of services on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Lāna‘i and Hawai‘i Island, for 70 years, the organization has changed the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, by providing resources and support to entire families.

Easter Seals Hawaii is the state’s largest provider of Early Intervention services for infants and toddlers and is one of the state’s largest providers of Medicaid Waiver services for adults with disabilities.

As the mission grew to include services for adults with disabilities, the organization became known as Easter Seals Hawaii, which now has 14 facilities and serves more than 2,000 individuals with disabilities every year across the Hawaiian Islands.

Easter Seals Hawaii’s programs are accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), assurance that the organization meets nationally accepted standards. For more information, visit http://www.eastersealshawaii.org.

History of Easter Seals Hawaii
In 1946, Edward and Olga Sultan founded the Sultan Foundation Nursery School, and with support from a group of business leaders and parents committed to helping children with disabilities, their vision expanded and The Easter Seal Society for Crippled Children was founded. Charter members included Dorothy Devereux, Olga Sultan, Governor John Burns, Hilo Hattie, and Judge Chuck Mau.  As the mission grew to include services for adults with disabilities, the organization became known as Easter Seals Hawaii, which now has 14 facilities and serves more than 2,000 individuals with disabilities every year across the Hawaiian Islands.

In the early days, a star-studded group of local entertainers, including Al Harrington and Danny Kaleikini, raised funds and awareness through the Easter Seals Hawaii Telethon, which also featured national stars like Arthur Godfrey, Ethel Merman, Henry Winkler and others who helped launch the early events in Hawaii.  Hosted by sports radio and TV icon, Don Robbs. Over its 70-year history, Easter Seals Hawaii has continued to raise funds by also hosting, “Taste of Honolulu” on the grounds of Honolulu Hale, a popular holiday event known as “The Gingerbread Festival,” and an annual Golf Classic, which will be held this year on September 23 at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club.

The Easter Seals Hawaii Anniversary Gala will be held on April 29, 2016 at the Hawaii State Art Museum with master chefs from


 

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Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Hawaii

Most of us feel completely lost if we misplace our smartphone or tablet. Somehow, over the years, it has become just as essential as the other items on our mental checklist when we leave the house – Car keys? Check. House keys? Check. Smartphone? Check. While there was a time in the not-too distant past when smartphones and tablets did not even exist, they have now become the items that keep us connected to our friends and colleagues, keep track of where we are supposed to be and when, store humorous “selfies” that we cannot bring ourselves to delete, and so much more.

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For anyone with a developmental disability it is much more critical, and different forms of technology can be used to overcome the barriers that have been a hindrance to meaningful engagement with his or her community in many different ways. Fortunately, Easter Seals Hawaii offers an invaluable service called assistive technology.

Specialists in assistive technology work directly with the Easter Seals Hawaii participants to provide equipment and services that empower the individual to minimize their challenges at home, at work, at school, or in their daily lives. For instance, people who have difficulties with hearing, vision, or mobility could potentially use modified touch screens, communication devices, adaptive software, and/or alternative keyboards. These technologies are designed to maximize the skills of each individual and could potentially be used to help job-seekers perform essential skills.

At school, tablets, iPads, computers, and other devices could be used to help the students comprehend and keep up with the curriculum. Since there are hundreds of potential options available, the assistive technology specialists serve as an essential resource and help identify the most useful and targeted application, depending on the exact needs of the participant.

How can you help? It’s easy. If you or anyone you know is upgrading to a new computer, laptop, or handheld device, consider donating your used equipment to Easter Seals Hawaii. It could help shape someone’s life, help them succeed at school or work, and will guarantee to make them smile.  

Please contact Kelly Ikeda Ellis, Development Office, with donations at (808) 529-1709 x1163

In Hawaii, Easter Seals Hawaii is one of the largest organization that provides services from birth which (if needed) continues throughout their life. Initially, behavior services are provided to help the recipient overcome the challenges they face. Early intervention by the assistive technology specialist is extremely helpful for both the individual and the families, and it is never too early to engage with a specialist. Once the technology has been identified or modified to fit the needs of the individual, the assistive technology device grows and evolves as the persons become more familiar with how to use it. This is a critical step in Easter Seal Hawaii’s overarching goal of helping to empower every individual to move from dependence to independence, and realize their full potential.

 

Dennis Maher’s Unbreakable Commitment

Dennis C. Maher has spent an entire lifetime living with a family member with an intellectual disability. His brother, now 41, has Down syndrome, cannot speak, and is legally deaf and blind. His son, 12, has autism. Many people would find a reason to complain, but what truly sets Dennis apart is his unbreakable commitment to his family, his community, and everyone with a disability.

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Dennis is the director of facilities and security at Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk, and one of his responsibilities is looking for ways to improve and streamline the day-to-day operations. The hotel has a green program focused on recycling, and he realized that finding a charity to benefit from the 5c recyclables would be a win-win for both the hotel and the charity – it would save the hotel valuable resources if another entity took over the program, and the charity would benefit from the regular revenue stream. Since his brother had been engaged with Easter Seals Hawaii for many years he made one phone call which, as it turned out, was all he needed to do to start the program which now provides many recipients the opportunity to be employed and engaged with the community.

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Working closely with representatives from Easter Seals Hawaii he has grown the program to extend far beyond the Trump Hotel and include other condos in the area. For Dennis, his passion and devotion to assisting people with intellectual disabilities has been a lifelong commitment. When he was in high school he worked in a summer camp for people with disabilities. Now, in addition to being engaged with Easter Seals Hawaii, he was a coach for several sports through Special Olympics and is also on the board of Autism Hawaii. As with many true heroes he sees the best in others, and is the first to give the credit to other people he has known who also give their time freely. He noted, “I have a child with a disability, I have a brother with a disability. I have a reason to do this. That is where it comes from. I give a lot more credit to those without a family member with a disability, those are the real heroes. The real heroes are the people that do not have a reason other than a big heart. I give them a heck of a lot more credit than I give myself.”

Roxann Kehus: Employment Services

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible.” –Audrey Hepburn

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So many of us float through our day-to-day lives forgetting the inherent simplicity of possibility: add a space, an apostrophe, and a rightfully earned, capitalized “I” and impossible transforms into I’m possible.

Roxann Kehus, the Statewide Employment Services Manager for Easter Seals Hawaii, speaks of this truth as it relates to the groundbreaking work she and the Easter Seals team are undertaking. Through years of work with non-profit organizations, she has become quite familiar with the impossible-to-possible transformation. These exciting possibilities center around the vision of a new program that, after many years of intent, is now being implemented: employment services. This program aims to foster true community integration and support of self. Focusing on individual strengths, interests, gifts, and talents as opposed to weaknesses and deficits, Easter Seals Employment Services strives to make every individual an equally respected and independent member of society.

Discovery Process
With the help of a practice known as Discovery, individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to experience, or discover, the workplace. They observe different jobs, speak to different people, and authentically establish an area of interest through experiment and/or experience to successfully facilitate job placement. Discovery is a valuable process, one in which Roxann believes in fully due to past experiences with it. As an employment consultant in Seattle, WA, Roxann worked with a high school graduate who had a Discovery meeting with family, friends, and neighbors. His interest in shredding papers caught the attention of one neighbor in particular, who turned out to be a local school principle. She offered him a job shredding old report cards and crafted a beneficial situation for everyone involved. The young man now had a job doing something he enjoyed, the school was getting rid of unnecessary documents, and the students were able to assist him, increasing their own awareness and interaction with people with disabilities. It eventually led to further work opportunities when the local city parks department requested his paper-shredding assistance as well. This epitomizes the beauty of the practice: one Discovery meeting can present unexpected and previously unimagined job opportunities, spawning chances for people with disabilities to actively contribute to and participate in society.

Through employment services (including the Discovery program) individuals not only expand their network of people and supporters – otherwise known as social capital – but also build character. They develop a greater sense of self, are better prepared to make decisions, and have a means by which to improve their current quality of life. A few job seekers on the Big Island are a testament to this. After working on pre-employment skill building (interview etiquette, question-response preparation, etc.), practice interviews exposed an air of confidence within each individual. They were able to communicate an answer, explain themselves, express their own thoughts, interests, and strengths, and appropriately partake in a conversational setting. This type of equality for all persons, in all environments, all of the time sets valuable precedence. And just as a bike tire need only an occasional flick to stay in motion, so too the employment services program need only a nudge to perpetuate its forward motion.

Roxann, therefore, sees herself in a supportive role – inspiring communication, teamwork, and learning throughout each of the programs on the various islands. She believes in possibilities: “We’re changing a system that’s been in place for many, many years but know that our vision is leading us in the right direction. I trust the process and know it’ll look and turn out in a way that’s greater than I even imagined in the first place.”

Easter Seals Hawaii TV Special on KFVE

Commemorating the 70th anniversary this year, Easter Seals Hawaii marks this special anniversary with a one hour prime time television special airing June 24 at 7:00 pm- 8:00 pm on KFVE.  This very special documentary film directed by award-winning filmmaker, Edgy Lee, highlights the diversity of families and the vast array of needs served by Easter Seals Hawaii over the past 70 years.  Historical highlights and personal reflections span decades. They include stories from community supporters like Don Robbs, Danny Kaleikini, Ed Sultan and others.

            

Narrated by Danny Kaleikini, the Easter Seals 70th Anniversary TV Special “Easter Seals Hawaii: Serving Hawaii’s Families for 70 Years” is produced by Filmworks Pacific and written by Marc Cohen & Edgy Lee.  The documentary film takes viewers into a unique and different world, a reality that redefines “ohana” to include not only family members and close friends, but the dedicated staff and many volunteers whose every day jobs are to provide life-enhancing services to people with disabilities and special needs so they may  achieve independent fulfilling lives.

Grandpa was pals with Ingram Stainback, who was the governor at the time during World War II.  They would have a cup of coffee every now and then and Governor Stainback would lament that public schools couldn’t handle crippled children, and the crippled children would end up staying in homes and families would take care of them and they never really learned how to interact in the community.

My grandfather would go home later that day and share this with his wife, my grandmother, and they came up with an idea of a school that teaches these children how to interact in society, how to stand up and walk, get them equipment that they might need and they would find braces or crutches for them and other resources.  The idea was that when you graduate from this school, you will be able to go into mainstream public school.  My grandmother became passionate about this and put together a group of people who had a lot of of energy and desire to help the community.  Through their caring and visionary efforts, The Sultan School for Early Intervention which later became Easter Seals Hawaii, was founded.   Ed Sultan III, President and Ceo, Na Hoku, Inc.

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS and TUNE IN!

WHAT:    “Easter Seals Hawaii: Serving Hawaii’s Families for 70 Years”
WHEN:    Friday, June 24, 2016; 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
WHERE:  Aired on KFVE