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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
If you plan to attend the Nov. 1-2 Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA fundraiser for Easterseals and NASCAR Foundation, be sure to cheer for Matt Birnie as he stands atop the 8-story International Motorsports Center and prepares to rappel. He’s not fond of heights, but he loves Easterseals, and that’s why he’s being brave for courageous kids again this fall.
The 38-year-old account executive at Brown & Brown has been connected to Easterseals for more than 30 years – ever since his brother began receiving services as an infant. Matt’s brother signed up to go Over the Edge in November and Matt will be joining him again in a show of support.
Last year, when Matt was approached by Easterseals Northeast Central Florida’s VP-Planned Giving Susan Moor about rappelling in support of Easterseals for the first time, he had an instant and strong reaction.
“I asked Susan if she was crazy,” he recalled. “Heights are not my favorite thing.”
As a veteran “Edger,” Matt’s hoping to continue to motivate others to keep conquering and overcoming their fears.
“Considering all the challenges children who are helped by Easterseals face, (rappelling) is a minor challenge for me,” he said. “When I’m up there, I just keep saying to myself, ‘Don’t look down. Don’t look down.'
“I’ve seen what Easterseals has done to change our family in time of need, and I’ve seen how it’s helped my brother become who is today,” said Matt. “I feel very passionate about supporting it.
“Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA is a fun event that really makes a difference,” he added. “I know firsthand how Easterseals serves the community; Easterseals is an organization that does things for families in need and can help kids live out their dreams. Why not do it?”
We want YOU to consider being an Edger with Matt this November! Raise funds for Easterseals and NASCAR Foundation while having a blast being brave for courageous kids. To learn more about Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA, to sponsor a rappeler, sponsor the event or sign up for a spot on the ropes, visit www.daytonaovertheedge.org.
Everyday heroes, thrill seekers and community leaders are invited to BE BRAVE FOUR COURAGEOUS KIDS during the third annual “Over The Edge At ONE DAYTONA” (OTE) event on November 1-2, 2019.
Registration is now open for individual fundraisers! The first 140 fundraisers who raise a minimum of $1,000 will earn their spot to go Over the Edge of the west-side façade of the 102-foot-high International Motorsports Center, the headquarters of NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation (ISC).
Register and learn more about the event at www.DaytonaOverTheEdge.org, and follow the event’s progress at https://www.facebook.com/DaytonaOverTheEdge/. We want to cheer you on as you go Over the Edge for kids!
About The NASCAR Foundation
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Inc. (NASCAR) established The NASCAR Foundation in January 2006 to support initiatives that positively affect the lives of children throughout the United States. The 501(c) (3) non-profit entity partners with medical experts and other charitable organizations to fund children’s health care programs. The NASCAR Foundation has cumulatively donated $32 million to reach more than one million children.
About Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida
Easterseals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for nearly 90 years, and serves more than 17,500 individuals and families with a range of disabilities to achieve their full potential. With facilities in Daytona Beach, DeLand, Bunnell, and Leesburg, Easterseals’ purpose is to the way the world defines and views disability...whether physical, intellectual, emotional or social, by making profound, positive differences in people's lives...everyday.
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida is offering free autism spectrum disorder (ASD) screenings for children ages 18 months to 17 years at its Daytona Beach location, 1219 Dunn Ave.
Walk-ins are welcome weekdays from 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Parents and guardians should allow 20-30 minutes for the screening once the appointment begins.
More than 2 million Americans live with ASD, a neurological developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact. With love and community support, they can live independent and productive lives.
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.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery is at the top of the heap of the fantastic options at ONE DAYTONA – the Daytona Beach area’s epicenter for premier retail, dining and entertainment. And again this year it's joining forces to support Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida and The NASCAR Foundation for Charity Pint Nights, a unique beer tapping with $4 pints from 6-9 p.m. on Thursdays Aug. 15, Sept. 19 and Oct. 17.
All donations go to Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA, which benefits both charities with its rappelling event Nov. 1-2. (Rappelers sign-up is live on daytonaovertheedge.org. Don’t miss the fun!)
Rock Bottom is passionate about pints and maniacal for malts! Its local brewmaster creates handcrafted brews that range from crisp to roasty and everything between. Rock Bottom beers have won gold, silver and bronze awards around the country.
If that’s not enough to get you to hit Rock Bottom for Charity Pint Nights, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery serves fine fare, too. The menu features savory starters like asiago artichoke & crab dip andbacon cheddar poppers and wings, while the entrée menu features steaks, salads, pizza, tacos and crafted items including pretzel-crusted chicken, Cajun pasta and shrimp & grits. Lighter fare is also available, as are mason-jar desserts! Who’s ready for bourbon pecan pie or salted caramel toffee? Yes, please!
Find Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery inside ONE DAYTONA at 1864 Victory Circle, building K. Rock Bottom is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
ONE DAYTONA is open from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday - Saturday, and Sundays from noon – 6 p.m. Check out all its offerings – including Cobb Daytona Luxury Theatres and soon-to-open GameTime Family Entertainment Center, and get to know ONE DAYTONA.
To learn more about Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA, to sponsor a rappeler, sponsor the event or sign up for a spot on the ropes, visit www.daytonaovertheedge.org.
My name is Kelly Parsons Kwiatek, and I’m the Immediate Past Board Chair for Easterseals Northeast Central Florida and Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Halifax Health.
At Halifax Health I am responsible for “all things legal” within the Halifax’s healthcare system. In my board position with Easterseals, I participate in the oversight and strategic direction of the organization. (I also see myself as a sounding board for our President/CEO Bev Johnson when needed.)
If my calculations are correct, I began my role on Easterseals’ board of directors 15 years ago, and I never looked back.
Like many volunteer leaders at Easterseals, my relationship with the organization has a personal beginning. When I was a little girl, my mom was the fundraising chair for our local Easterseals. Among other accomplishments, she helped start the Harley Davidson Bike Raffle (with the help of then-staff member Mary Harowski). That annual raffle raised thousands for local Easterseals families during its glory days.
If you’ve been in Daytona Beach for many years you may remember the Harley raffle. I have memories of my mom going nightly to Main Street in Daytona Beach during Bike Week to volunteer, all dressed in her (conservative) leathers. She’d take donations for raffle tickets for Easterseals, getting bikers excited about the chance to win that pristine machine. Every year she’d take me with her for a daytime shift so I could help. That’s how my involvement with Easterseals began…via my mom!
Another reason for my passion for Easterseals is the experience that my family has had with my aunt. She was born with cerebral palsy. She went through several surgeries as a child, but she didn’t have the benefits of Easterseals programs. I feel they would have changed her life for the better. I was very close with her and had always wished for her an improved quality of life in several respects, which is what I feel Easterseals does for clients and their families. Our services are irreplaceable.
Looking ahead, I’m excited for all the events on the horizon at Easterseals; I hope you can become involved in them too! Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA on November 1-2 and Walk With Me in April…those are the kinds of events that are important to our Easterseals community. During those times, we share moments as a group of people within our “family” who assemble – be it for a few minutes or a few hours – to support each other and the cause. It’s meaningful.
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida gives people in our community -- real people who we know who are going through a difficult or transitioning time – something vitally important: hope. It gives them hope through community and guidance and services. Is there anything more powerful?
I invite you to learn more about Easterseals Northeast Central Florida and consider giving your time and resources to help us continue to make a difference as we take on disabilities together.
I’m proud to serve as your Immediate Past Board Chair and thank you for all you do to help Easterseals make an impact every day. What a wonderful mission to be a part of.