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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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.


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.



Mahalo to all those that supported our Gingerbread Family Festival!

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From all of us at Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH), we’d like to say thank you for all of the support and your participation in our statewide Gingerbread Family Festival! Hundreds of families enjoyed decorating their gingerbread houses, pictures with Santa, live entertainment and even a craft fair!

Please enjoy a few of our favorite moments from each island.


Gingerbread Family Festival

Our Easter Seals Hawaii participants had so much fun greeting and meeting families that came to participate in our Gingerbread Family Festival at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on Sunday, Dec. 8.

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At ESH Hilo, Chevez and Keli’ikoa had so much fun decorating their gingerbread house, they wanted to eat it after! Hilo’s festival was also held on Sunday, Dec. 8.

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Kids created some wonderful masterpieces at ESH Kauai’s Gingerbread Family Festival on Saturday, Dec. 14.

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Please join us next year!

More photos available on our Facebook page.

Funds for Friends event raises $6,200 net for ESH Kauai

By Ellen Ching, Director of Kauai Development and Program Growth

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More than 800 people arrived to see what goodies they can get at the Funds for Friends event.

Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) – Kauai Home and Community Based Programs raised $6,200 net for their Adult Day Health and Support Services programs on Thursday, November 14th at the Convention Hall in Lihue.

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Staff and participants thank those who donated items to be sold as part of the rummage sale.

Spearheaded by the event committee, made up of staff and participants, the event was full of rummage items, baked goods, plants, crafts and participant micro-enterprises selling their art and craft items. More than 670 plate lunches were sold. In addition to learning a lot of great skills, all funds from this pre-vocational event are used for camps, holiday parties, summer bashes and more.

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Adult participants, like Bertha (pictured) were able to market and sell their own items as well as manage their own business.

Our ESH Kauai staff would like to thank the All Saints Episcopal Church for their donations, everyone who supported the fundraiser through buying plate lunches or donating items. We are so happy to announce that we have paid it forward and donated all clothes and soft sided luggage to the King’s Chapel Church to ship to the Philippines for the disaster relief and the Salvation Army to help raise funds to feed our ohana on Kauai. It was truly a full circle event.

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Boxes of clothing from ESH’s Funds for Friends event were donated to King’s Chapel Church in Hanamualu destined for disaster relief in the Philippines.


We’re getting ready for the biggest holiday festival of the year!

DSC_0043Wait until you see all the candy we’ve packed for you all in your gingerbread kits!

Nearly 160 volunteers arrived at the University of Hawaii at Manoa last Sunday to help Easter Seals Hawaii prepare for the Gingerbread Family Festival. The volunteers helped put together 2,000 gingerbread kits. Safeway donated 2,000 gingerbread houses and CVS Caremark/Longs Drugs donated 16,000 bags of candy!

DSC_0040Here we have some UH students helping us out with packing fruit slices.

ESH and the Gingerbread Family Festival event directors had a gummy bear station, fruit slices station, peppermint station and more. Our volunteers had a blast unwrapping all the of the fruity candy and placing them in bags for our gingerbread kits.


Mahalo to our volunteers!


Some of our adult participants and their family members helped to pack candy and assemble gingerbread kits.

The Gingerbread Family Festival, presented by The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and now in its 14th year on O‘ahu, its 12th year in Kauai and Hawai’i Island and its first year in Maui. It is Easter Seals Hawaii’s largest fundraiser, raising nearly $200,000 annually to support programs and services for infants, children and adults with developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and muscular dystrophy.

To reserve your kit, volunteer or learn more about how you can help Easter Seals Hawaii, visit GINGERBREADHAWAII.COM!

Let’s get ready to CRUMBLE!!!

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Let’s get ready to crumble! Our 14th Annual Gingerbread Family Festival is coming up in THREE WEEKS!

In December 1999, friends, family and supporters of Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) gathered in a small conference room at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center to enjoy the fun of building and decorating 50 gingerbread houses to raise funds for ESH. Fourteen years later, with a creative vision inspired by Chef Alan Wong, what began with a few sheet of freshly baked gingerbread, handfuls of candy and icing, and a desire to help ESH has grown to become Hawaii’s most exciting and beloved island holiday tradition!

Today, ESH’s annual Gingerbread Family Festival has grown statewide with more than 6,000 guests and volunteers of all ages building and decorating more than 1,400 gingerbread houses. Join in the fun and bring your holiday spirit!

This year our Gingerbread Family Festival will be held on:

Sunday, December 8th on Oahu

  • at the Neil S. Blaisdell Center
  • from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (first session)
  • from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (second session)

Sunday December 8th on Hilo

  • at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Sanha Hall
  • from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Saturday, December 14th on Kauai

  • at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center
  • from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (first session)
  • from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. (second session)

Saturday, December 14th on Maui (our first year on Maui!)

  • at the Easter Seals Hawaii Kahului location
  • from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (first session)
  • from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (second session)

Reserve your gingerbread kits today at www.GINGERBREADHAWAII.com.

Halloween Across the Islands

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Halloween at Easter Seals Hawaii is not just another fun holiday for us…it’s a reason to party! Our programs across the Hawaiian Islands have hosted “Spooktacular” parties for their participants and their families.

On Hilo, ESH Hilo Early Intervention held a party that featured an obstacle course, arts, crafts and snacks! Fifteen families attended and had so much fun with the various ‘sensory’ activities and cool decor! Our Hilo EI Program Social Worker, Cheryl Jackson, said, “The weather was great for playing in the goop outside and riding rocking horses after crawling through tunnels inside. Some families didn’t want to leave!”

On Kauai, the Lihue Service Center held a Halloween Party for adult participants at Lydgate Beach Park! The sun and weather were perfect for swimming and spending the day at the beach. The party featured games, costumes, yummy treats and even a Halloween Sculpture Contest!

On Oahu, the Sultan Early Intervention Program held a fun “trick or treat” party in the courtyard. ESH staff gave out cool toys, stickers and yummy treats. Top costumes were The Hulk and The Quarterback.