Over the past several weeks, Easter Seals has experienced some good news as well as some disappointment. On the one hand, we have been heartened by the show of support by so many local community foundations and United Way organizations, who recognized the need Easter Seals children and families are facing and have generously approved funding through the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund.
We were also able to successfully hold our first Butter Tart Tour through Muskoka, Camp to Camp, our first virtual event, and the Computer Golf Online Auction. All of the support received, including donations made to our direct mail program, has enabled us to provide funding to some of the families on our wait list, and I sincerely thank everyone for their generosity.
I am happy to say our first attempt at offering virtual camp was a big hit with campers, so much so that we are currently working on scenarios to make it available throughout the year. Please watch the website in the coming weeks for more details. If you missed all the action, the virtual campsite is still active, and you can re-watch the live events on YouTube!
As successful as we were with some new activities, we were disappointed that the vast majority of our regularly scheduled summer fundraising events had to be cancelled, resulting in a further loss of revenue. We rely on all of these events to meet the ongoing needs of families and will be making every effort to offset these losses with new initiatives and additional grant applications.
On September 13 and 20 we have our annual Telethons taking place in Peterborough and Sudbury, to be followed by Windsor likely in late October. We are cautiously optimistic we will be able to hold modified Celebrity Hockey Classic events in five of our regions later this fall. To this end, we have been developing plans for modified tournament structures and protocols in line with updated rules and public safety guidelines. The Celebrity Hockey Classics are an important source of revenue for our programs and services; however, the health and safety of participants, volunteers and staff remains our top priority, and we will not move forward unless we are confident it is safe to do so.
Regretfully, later this month, we will be saying farewell to Barbara Gray, long-time head of Easter Seals’ Recreation Program and Director of Camp Merrywood, who is retiring after 32 years of dedicated service. Barb has been the heart and soul of our Recreation Department, creating innovative programming, providing campers with memories to last a lifetime and being an extraordinary mentor to thousands of counsellors. We thank Barb for the outstanding contribution she has made to Easter Seals, and although she will be greatly missed, we wish her much happiness on her retirement journey. Read Barbara Gray’s biography.
As kids head back to school, what is normally an exciting time is proving to be a time of extreme trepidation for all parents and teachers. For Easter Seals parents, however, there are a number of additional concerns and questions. Our most recent Easter Seals Kids at School blog post discusses issues parents with children with physical disabilities should consider as they make their decisions about the return to school or remote learning.
Even though we have been able to fund equipment for some families, many Easter Seals families are not only in need of equipment but are facing additional challenges most of us can’t imagine. By offering assistance to help children get the equipment they need to stay safe in their homes, you are providing parents with peace of mind and alleviating some of the stress they are currently facing. The intrinsic value of your support is immeasurable – thank you!
To illustrate the impact your donations have made, I’d like to share a message we received from an Easter Seals parent who recently received funding for equipment for her child:
“Only thanks to all of you, dear donors, can we get such necessary equipment that will make our son’s and our family’s life much easier and safer. We wish all of you and your family great health and all the best! Thank you again and again!”
If you have already made a donation, your generosity means more than we can ever express. If you would like to help, please know your gift will not only make an important impact, it will be met with sincere and heartfelt gratitude.
Again, thank you all for your continued belief in our mission and for your compassion and caring during such unsettling times.
Kevin J. Collins
P.S.: You can read about how our donors have changed the lives of other children and families in our Fall Newsletter.