The world is not the same place it was three months ago. However, for all that has changed and all the challenges we have faced, there is a sense of strength that comes from knowing we are in this together and there are people who care.
The past few months have been extremely stressful for everyone, and yet Easter Seals has been fortunate to continue to receive support from individuals, corporations, foundations and community groups throughout the province. I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has made a donation, responded to our mail campaigns, took our #21TimesChallenge, followed us on social media, or reached out to offer your assistance or services. Thank you – you are the heart and soul of Easter Seals, and we are deeply touched by your kindness and caring under such trying circumstances.
The generosity of our donors has allowed us to continue to provide important programs to families, including funding for urgently needed mobility and accessibility items. Requests for our equipment funding program currently exceed $1.1 million, far more than we are presently able to fulfill; however, we remain committed to directing as much funding as possible to this program for the remainder of the year. This week, we also opened registration for our virtual summer camp program, which will begin at the end of June. We are proud to be leading the development of this program and will be sharing it with those provincial Easter Seals organizations who have expressed an interest in participating with us.
The children we serve are exceptionally vulnerable, and it is important the issues they face are at the forefront with government officials and decision makers. While we advocate on behalf of Easter Seals kids year-round, in recent weeks our efforts have focused on pressing issues surrounding learning from home, transitioning back to school, the impact of COVID-19 and accessibility planning, as well as making recommendations for future emergency preparedness.
In addition, Easter Seals has been part of a large group of charities actively advocating to provincial and federal governments for emergency assistance for charitable organizations. In response, relief funds have been made available through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which we are now receiving, and the Emergency Community Support Fund for Charities, to which we are currently applying. We have also begun receiving funding from Human Resources Development Canada’s summer student grant program and will be hiring for these positions in the near future.
As the economy begins to reopen, we are entering a new normal with many changes still to come. With our fundraising events on-hold for the foreseeable future, our focus has shifted to generating more revenue online with initiatives such as the #C21TimesChallenge, our current Father’s Day online auction, and Camp to Camp, a brand new virtual event which will be launched at the end of June. Our team, supported by CEWS, is also looking at ways to modify our Telethons and other upcoming sports tournaments to accommodate social distancing.
Supporting each other has never been more important. COVID-19 has placed a hefty burden on Easter Seals parents. They continue to face significant daily challenges and fear for the health and safety of their child. No family should have to face this on their own. Together, we can be there when they need somewhere to turn for help.
If you haven’t already, and if you are able, please make a donation. You will be making a life-changing impact for a child with a physical disability and their entire family.
At a time when the world truly needs caring and compassion, we sincerely thank you for standing by us.
With deepest appreciation,
Kevin. J. Collins
President & CEO