Recently, during its annual meeting in Daytona Beach, Easterseals Northeast Central Florida officially recognized its 2019-2020 Board of Directors.
2019 Lily Award Winner and longtime Easterseals supporter Len Marinaccio commented to the assembled crowd regarding the board’s exceptional leadership and commitment. It’s because of that leadership, he said, that Easterseals is a thriving, growing and dynamic organization.
Officers of the board were installed:
Returning board members include: Matt Birnie, Lonnie Brown, Pam Browne, Sheryl Cook, Ed Dimayuga, Myra Middleton, Nancy-Ellen Otte, Paul Schandel, Don Sciotto, and Darlynn Tacinelli. Also pictured are honorary board members Jim Barocas, Patti Parsons and Becky Rutland.
The 2019-2020 board also includes new members, whose three-year terms begin this year. They are:
After recognizing the board, Len turned his attention to remembering two talented Easterseals champions who passed away earlier this year: David Hood and Gloria Cook. Both were Easterseals Honorary Life Directors.
Len remarked that during Easterseals nomination process this year, the Governance Committee unanimously favored bestowing the title of Honorary Life Director to another of Easterseals’ best and brightest champions: Sheryl Cook. With a wide smile and full heart, Sheryl accepted the honor.
Lastly, Len installed the new Board of Directors during the annual meeting, reminding the audience of the board’s values and expectations for service. Those key values include customer focus; commitment to excellence; dedication to stewardship and philanthropy; a focus on communication; dedication to respectful service; a commitment to integrity; and being an advocate for Easterseals, demonstrating its purpose in the community.
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida is ever grateful for the commitment of its volunteer board and looks forward to a productive year ahead! We thank the members for for their service.
I’m Tami Krüger, the Provider Relations Specialist for the Easterseals North Beaches Early Steps (NBES) program, covering Volusia, Flagler, Lake, Putnam and Sumter counties. The NBES program provides early intervention services to children aged 0-3 with special needs and/or developmental disabilities. My primary responsibilities as Provider Relations Specialist are provider recruitment of pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists/Assistants, Physical Therapists/Assistants and Infant Toddler Development Specialists (ITDS); provider credentialing with NBES; provider quality assurance (QA) via provider record audits and reviews; and provider liaison with the Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) Medicaid program and insurance networks.
Easterseals became an important part of my life when I enrolled my daughter, Chloe, in daycare at Easterseals’ Child Development Center in February 2016. She was a year and a half old and began in the infant room. I had noticed that Chloe was not trying to talk as much as other children I noticed at drop-off or pick-up times. Chloe’s second birthday was approaching in a few months and I brought up my concerns with her pediatrician. He said to wait until she turned two, as babies have a vocabulary explosion around two years old and he didn’t feel she needed my request for a speech evaluation referral.
One day while picking up my daughter from daycare, I was briefly talking with the receptionist about my concerns of Chloe talking and she told me to do a “parent referral” to Early Steps. I did not know what Early Steps was at the time and would discuss the option with my husband. Not long after, I found out about a job opportunity with Early Steps as the Provider Relations Specialist and applied for the position in June 2016. I got the job and began as the Provider Relations Specialist in August 2016. During my first few weeks, I spoke to my co-worker and Intake Specialist, Diane Brock about this “parent referral” for Chloe and how it worked. Diane explained how the evaluation and program worked. To my amazement, the parent referral was quick and easy, and by the end of the day, Chloe was scheduled for an evaluation with Early Steps in late August 2016 – she had just turned two and there was not much improvement with her speech.
Chloe was evaluated by the amazing Early Steps team, a Speech Therapist and an Occupational Therapist, with my assigned Family Services Coordinator present as well. Chloe was found eligible for the program and would begin receiving Speech Therapy once per week. There was no out-of-pocket cost to parents, either insurance paid for the sessions, or Early Steps would pay as last resort if child had no insurance. Another perk to this fabulous opportunity for Chloe – the speech therapist saw Chloe in the natural environment, meaning where Chloe normally spent her days. Her Speech Therapist was fabulous and saw her weekly at the daycare, sending me updates each week on what they did during sessions and what my husband and I should work on with her during the week at home.
Although Chloe understood what we said to her, she could not express what she wanted or needed. It was heartbreaking to watch her try to communicate with us and get frustrated and cry or shut down. Over a short time, we noticed a huge improvement with Chloe’s communication, her demeanor improved, and she was happier overall. I ended up moving Chloe to a daycare in Palm Coast, closer to home in 2017 just before Chloe turned three. Our amazing Service Coordinator set up transition for Chloe to receive Speech Therapy through the Flagler County Schools system after she turned three. The transition between the Early Steps program and the Flagler County Schools system was seamless and very easy.
Chloe just turned five, she is in the Kindergarten DREAMS accelerated program at the elementary school, is still receiving Language Therapy at school each week, and is a chatter-box! You would never know she had a speech delay a few years ago. That parent-referral was the best decision I have ever made in my life, and Chloe is living proof that Early Intervention works!
It has been three years since I began working with the Early Steps Program and over four years of Easterseals making a positive impact on our family. I have the unique ability to understand the value of Easterseals and the North Beaches Early Steps program as a parent and as an employee. I have had many discussions with NBES providers about my experience as a parent of an Early Steps child, and the benefits of open communication between the parents, therapists, and Family Service Coordinators, ensuring the child received the services they need. Over the past three years, I have learned so much about the North Beaches Early Steps program, but the most important thing I have realized is that every single person in our program genuinely cares about the children and their needs being met. I personally have seen my supervisor and the Program Director, Stephanie Ellis-Clark, bend over backwards to ensure the children and employees receive what they need. I am truly proud to be a part of this amazing program!
The Easterseals mission of “Taking on Disability Together” was experienced first-hand in my family. Beginning with the suggestion of making a “parent referral” for Chloe with Early Steps from the Easterseals’ Childcare Development Center receptionist, to the knowledgeable explanation of the program and providing the intake information, the ease of scheduling Chloe’s Early Steps eligibility clinic evaluation, the expertise of the evaluating therapists, the amazing service coordination, and the beneficial weekly therapy, my daughter found her confidence, her happiness, and most of all her voice.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone involved in Chloe’s amazing transformation and helping her find her voice!
I’m Lauren Burkhalter, a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. I’m also the Chair of the Easterseals Northeast Central Florida board of directors. My primary responsibilities as board Chair are to lead the board of directors in its many responsibilities as well as help drive mission awareness and board participation for the organization.
Amazingly, I’ve been a board member for more than a decade; time flies! My father Steve served for many years on the board before me. I was aware and appreciative of Easterseals’ mission and services to our community during his time of leadership, and I soon wanted to serve on the board and continue to make a difference myself.
I have a long history with Easterseals. When I was young, my parents brought me for pediatric hearing tests after discovering I may have had early hearing loss. Their positive experience was the beginning of a longtime relationship that my family would have with this incredible organization.
I’m excited about many things coming up in the next several months at Easterseals, including our “Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA” event this November 1-2. (I hope you’re excited too!) This year I have been able to get my Morgan Stanley Complex Manager to agree to go “Over the Edge” for Easterseals in the amazing rappelling event. Not only will it be fun and raise important funds for Easterseals, but 2019’s Over the Edge also will involve multiple offices across Central North Florida/Southern Georgia and include more than 200 advisors at Morgan Stanley!
As a professional with financial expertise, I know it is of utmost importance for nonprofits to have the support of their local community. I can’t think of a better way to introduce Easterseals Northeast Central Florida and all we do to my coworkers than through Over the Edge!
Why do I believe so strongly in Easterseals? Easterseals is important to our community because it provides crucial services to people all over that, without our organization, would go underserved or possibly not served at all. We bring awareness to all kinds of disabilities –- those that are seen and unseen. We provide therapy, early intervention services and even pioneered the effort to bring pediatric medical services to Daytona Beach to serve our children locally. And, we have an acclaimed Autism Center of Excellence and Charter School too. That’s just the beginning!
Many people have heard of Easterseals, but few know the depth and breadth of what we do and who we serve, and that we do it with a dedicated and knowledgeable team. I encourage you to explore our website to learn about the full scope of our services and get to know us better! When you do, it will become even more apparent why I’m proud to serve Easterseals with my time, talent and treasure.
I hope to see you at Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA! A good time will be had by all!
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida’s inaugural IMPACT Team – the Spring 2019 class – recently was recognized at Easterseals’ annual meeting in Daytona Beach.
IMPACT Team was formed as a result of strategic planning at Easterseals and is a method for enhancing employee engagement. The purpose of IMPACT Team is to create opportunities for employees to affect the future progress of Easterseals and to empower them to be leaders who bring their strengths and ideas into their leadership roles.
To President/CEO Bev Johnson, the group as a catalyst for making positive changes throughout the organization as well. She empowered team leaders Susan Moor, Brenna Giblock, Debbie Neller, Michelle Bucalos and Teresa White to design the program around Easterseals’ strategic planning goals that related to employee engagement and visibility.
Future IMPACT Teams will commence twice annually and will consist of several required components: five sessions, team projects and participation in an Easterseals fundraiser.
This year’s IMPACT Team had many goals for their involvement, including encouraging positivity and growth for employees, gaining greater insight into programs, serving families better, and using the new skills on and off the job. The team is comprised of members who have been endorsed by their supervisors and directors to participate, who also are excited about the opportunity for their employees. They are:
Congratulations to the Spring 2019 IMPACT Team participants! We are proud of this first “graduating class.”
by Dorothy Lefford,OTR/L, VP Clinical Services, Easterseals Northeast Central Florida
It’s back to school time again (post Hurricane Dorian), and getting back into routines can be quite a challenge for children...and parents!
Tackling the return to school alone can be a monumental task, so Easterseals Northeast Central Florida is here to offer some help with that other monster: homework!
Try these tips:
• Identify homework/study zones
• Establish regular study time in the daily routine
• Keep distractions to a minimum
• Help children make a plan or organize their assignments while supporting them in accomplishing their own work.
A change in the day-to-day operations is a struggle for all of us, but presents an extra challenge to children with autism or other diagnoses that thrive off routine and knowing expectations.
Here are some additional tips to help everyone be successful:
• Make a "to-do" list. This helps keep homework sessions predictable.
• Consider the child's sensory needs and strengths. How can you set up the environment for success? Accessible movement breaks? Adapted utensils? Open space vs. more defined space?
• Consider reward charts. Always praise and reward your child for taking initiative and completing daily work.
• Break up the assignments into smaller segments. This also gives you more opportunity to praise your child, offer a needed movement break or a chance to gain a reward to reinforce the completion of a task .
Ask your teachers and or therapists about resources they can provide to you or direct you to for use at home particularly those which might carryover successes had at school. Always work closely with the classroom teachers; you have valuable insight into your child’s learning and they can learn from you too!
Lastly, enlist siblings, friends and relatives to serve as mentors and tutors as needed. This helps generalize skills and encourages socialization, as well as gives mom and dad an occasional break.
It takes a village to raise a child. Keep building your village!
The leaders of Easterseals Northeast Central Florida readily recognize that its staff is extraordinarily involved in Easterseals overall success and adherence to its mission. These dedicated professionals do the meaningful, hands-on work at Easterseals and are the driving force behind Easterseals’ purpose. They are the link to clients as well, giving insight into the real impact Easterseals has in stories and in numbers.
Recently, Easterseals honored outstanding staff members at its annual meeting. In addition to recognizing longtime employees, Easterseals’ Chair-Elect Steve Sevigny honored select team members with “Extra Mile Awards.” The honorees were nominated by the Easterseals leadership team for being living examples of the values Easterseals represents. Below are this year's honorees:
Terri Borzner (Early Steps) – Terri was recognized for the many hours she has dedicated to Early Steps billing to bring all the records up to date.
John Borzner (Admin/Maintenance) – John was honored for handling the DeLand facility updates, all the room changes in Daytona CDC and keeping the building(s) functioning while staying completely calm and good-natured about it!
Debbie McLaughlin (Accounting) – Debbie was recognized for jumping in whenever she is needed and helping get Early Steps billing up to date too.
Deanna McGrath (School Therapy) – Deanna was honored for embracing the school therapy coordinator position and bringing it to new heights.
Susan Tyler (School Therapy) – Susan was recognized for jumping in whenever needed and for helping with all the staffing changes in Speech Therapy.
Kasey Grebosz (School Therapy) – Kasey was honored for managing an incredible caseload in school therapy and staying positive throughout!
Debbie Raiman (School Therapy) – Debbie was recognized for managing an incredible caseload in school therapy and staying positive throughout as well!
Debbie Neller, Shari MacFarlane, Davine Vincent (Autism Center of Excellence) – These three ladies – our 'power Autism Center of Excellence team' – were honored for working many evenings and Saturdays in support of ACE outreach and its clinic operations.
Ammy Schleifman (Daytona Early Steps) – Ammy was recognized for going above and beyond with interpreting services (covering three counties) while maintaining a large caseload of clients.
Crystal Smithers (DeLand Early Steps) – Crystal was honored for her connection and commitment to the families served by Easterseals Northeast Central Florida.
Diane Barber (Leesburg Early Steps) – Diane was honored for her outstanding work as Service Coordinator lead, through which she managed two locations. During the process, she maintained an above average caseload in a challenging service area.
Erica Garris (Daytona CDC/Project WARM) – Easterseals recognized Erica for bringing creativity and passion to the Child Development Center and for managing a large amount of staffing transitions at Project WARM.
Angela Crooks (Project WARM) – Easterseals honored Angela for assisting in every way possible to help with a variety of transitions at Project WARM.
To all these outstanding employees all our team members, we thank you for you continued dedication to serving Easterseals families. You are the reason we can take on disability together and change lives.
Len Marinaccio, owner of Bomar Construction, was honored with the 2019 Lily Award by Easterseals Northeast Central Florida recently at the Easterseals’ Annual Meeting in Daytona Beach.
Each year, an honoree is chosen for the Lily Award based on his or her dedication to Easterseals’ mission to providing exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.
From the moment Len learned more about Easterseals when his firm won the bid to lead the renovation of Easterseals' main building in 2001, he’s been a mentor, advisor and friend to the organization. To date, he’s has given more than 18 years of dedicated service to Easterseals and has been active at all levels within the organization.
His committee work has included Finance, Special Events, Governance and Executive. Further, Len has served as chairperson for many committees, including Finance and Endowment, Audit, Facilities, Program and Governance. And, he was Easterseals’ Board Chair between 2010 and 2012.
Len's leadership and dedication even took him to Chicago as he embraced a leading role for Easterseals as the organization proposed changes to the House of Delegates. In person and in countless teleconferences, Len ensured Easterseals Northeast Central Florida’s voice was heard in a professional and intentional manner during the process.
Further, Len and Bomar Construction are charter and annual sponsors of Easterseals’ Walk With Me event and client holiday party, thus demonstrating their dedication to Easterseals’ financial success as well.
Len’s consistent efforts in mentoring, advising and consulting the Easterseals leadership team makes him most worthy of the 2019 Lily Award. Congratulations, Len! We appreciate you!
Ready to challenge yourself with a new language? Easterseals Northeast Central Florida's American Sign Language classes return this September. The nine-week programs will be held in DeLand and Port Orange, Florida, beginning Monday, Sept. 23.
Classes begin Monday, Sept. 23, at YMCA DeLand (761 E. International Speedway, DeLand), and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at YMCA Port Orange (4701 City Center Parkway). All classes are 1.5 hours in length.
Need a few good reasons to enroll in sign-language courses? We have some! For instance...
1. Sign language is more common than you think. American Sign Language is more widely used in the U.S. than Chinese, French, Vietnamese or Korean. Thus, it’s likely you’d be practicing with people you meet day in and out.
2. Sign language is a helpful tool for communicating with varied audiences. ASL-trained residents who work in service to the public may be able to better serve hearing-impaired individuals.
3. Sign language improved personal communication skills. ASL-trained family members, friends and colleagues of hearing-impaired persons can put immediately actionable signing to use toward more effective communication.
4. Classes are convenient and inexpensive! $50 covers each nine-week session.
Register now; space is limited! Register online here or call Shae, ASL instructor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been two years since Daytona Beach native Patricia Potts joined the Easterseals Northeast Central Florida family as a volunteer, and she continues to be a proud part of the organization.
Patricia is a virtual “Jill of All Trades” in her weekly volunteer role in the Easterseals Autism Center of Excellence, handling everything from filing therapy notes to updating medical records. She assists staff with making copies, keeps tabs on important office supplies and equipment and organizes information packets about Easterseals, among many other tasks.
Patricia’s love of Easterseals and organizations that assist children with disabilities blossomed at an early age. Her heart was forever changed by early interactions with them, so when it came time for her to seek volunteer work, she returned to support their missions.
“When I was a little girl growing up in Daytona Beach, my grandmother worked at a school for children with physical and mental disabilities,” said Patricia. “My school was next door, so I walked over after school and waited for my grandmother to get off work before we walked home together.
“During that time, I attended many field trips with grandma and the school’s teachers and children,” she continued. “I made friends with the students; we walked and talked and played games together. I was curious about them. I think that even as a child I knew I was seeing children who many other children never even knew about. It always has left a special place in my heart.”
Patricia is particularly impressed by the role Easterseals plays in supporting families of children with autism.
“I believe Easterseals’ work with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is especially important in our community,” she said. “Under Dorothy (Lefford)’s direction, the therapists and everyone involved have so many resources to assist children with autism.”
One of her favorite events at Easterseals Northeast Central Florida is World Autism Day.
“World Autism Day at Easterseals the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen,” remarked Patricia. “Educated people from all over come to this event and offer their time and expertise to help parents, grandparents, guardians, family members and friends who are affected by autism. I encourage everyone to take part!”
Patricia said supporting the staff is her goal in volunteering at Easterseals.
“I want to help them have a good day at work,” she said, “and take a little stress off their day.”
Each year, Easterseals Northeast Central Florida serves more than 500 children who have been diagnosed with ASD. The nonprofit agency also operates the Autism Center of Excellence – a one-stop center for diagnosis, interventions and case management for children who were referred by their physician for evaluation of ASD. To learn more about Easterseals’ autism services, visit http://www.easterseals.com/necfl/our-programs/. For questions about the free autism screenings, please call 386-944-7815 or email Davine Vincent at email@example.com.
Meet Margaret Smith, Easterseals Charter School Principal. Margaret oversees the Charter School programming at Easterseals Northeast Central Florida locations in Daytona Beach and DeLand.
For Margaret, building trusting relationships with Easterseals families through leading the Charter Schools is Job Number One.
“My goal is ongoing collaboration to assist families,” she said. “I want to be known as being an effective leader that always puts the needs of our children first.”
As a leader within the Easterseals family, Margaret strives to be known by others as visible, available, approachable and collaborative.
“One advantage to working in a team-focused environment is that I am always being surrounded by team members who want the best for our students,” she said. “The collaboration and motivation to do what is best for our children is at the forefront of all our decisions."
“Having a ‘Kids First’ philosophy means that we work with children and families to meet each child’s individual needs,” she added. “We collaborate with families to provide tools needed to shape the future of our early learners.”
Margaret said she’s grown personally and professionally watching Easterseals teachers learn new strategies and apply them to the students.
“Collaborating, watching the learning process of others and delving into the next steps are wonderful ways of ensuring the natural process of learning and problem solving,” she said.
When people think of Easterseals, Margaret wants them to think about positive relationships, entrusting the Easterseals team to promote the highest level of learning and development for our students.
Get a glimpse into the magic of Easterseals Charter Schools and learn more about this outstanding Easterseals’ program by visiting us online.