Easterseals Welcomes Local Community and Disability Advocate Staci Tramont to the Board of DirectorsRead Now
What prompted you to begin your board relationship with Easterseals?
As a mother of two children on the spectrum and the caregiver of my adult sister with special needs it's imperative for me to help educate other parents, caregivers and our community of the resources available to them. I can think of no better organizations than Easterseals that helps bridge the gaps of accessible care and education early on in one's journey.
Were you involved with Easterseals or disability advocacy prior to joining the board ?
I have not, but am excited to be apart of Easterseals and hope to be a great asset to the board.
Why did you choose Easterseals as a recipient of your generosity, time and talent? What do you hope will be your niche within Easterseals scope of services?
I have a passion to serve families and individuals with unique abilities.
It's important that we strengthen and encourage the relationships, engagement and participation within our local communities. I look forward to assisting with "Community Outreach" and helping create lasting partnerships with community leaders and local businesses.
Why is Easterseals important to our community?
Early intervention is key to educating and getting families the services they need. Easterseals is leading the way!
Staci lives in Port Orange with her husband Chase, and together they have four children: Shea, Chloe, Jacob, and Kennedy Reagan.
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida, based in Daytona Beach, welcomes James M. Walker, MD, its first in-house, Board Certified Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician.
The focus of Walker’s practice will be twofold: autism diagnoses for young children (ages 18 months - 48 months) and support for families with children diagnosed with autism. Walker will be the first Easterseals-based physician who exclusively serves this growing and complex population.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Walker has joined our team of professionals focused on children with autism,” said Bev Johnson, President/CEO of Easterseals. “His commitment to our families is a gratifying culmination of years of our leaders strategizing and planning, as we comprehensively serve children with autism from the youngest age to full independence and their families.”
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the world today, affecting 1 in 44 children. In response to this trend and the resulting demand for services, Easterseals’ Autism Center of Excellence autism program has continued to grow at a rapid pace since its inception in 2008. Today, the program is a recognized autism leader offering early diagnosis, comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and intervention treatment for children with ASD.
“Dr. Walker is well known and respected in pediatric autism research, diagnosis, and treatment circles,” added Johnson. “By bringing him into the Easterseals network throughout North Central Florida, we open more avenues for families to receive the comprehensive services our organization offers.”
In various roles, Walker has served children in Ohio and Florida since 2000. These positions include Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Harbor Behavioral (Toledo, Oh.), University of Florida College of Medicine(Jacksonville), as well as Medical Director of Developmental Pediatrics at Harbor Behavioral and Director of Developmental Pediatrics of North Florida (Jacksonville).
Walker earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Plymouth, Montserrat, and is licensed to practice medicine in Florida and Ohio.
Walker’s services will be available to families who receive Easterseals autism services via the Autism Center of Excellence. Learn more about Easterseals Northeast Central Florida and its Autism Center of Excellence at www.easterseals.com/necfl. ###
About Easterseals Northeast Central Florida
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida offers life changing supports and services for over 5,000 local children annually, partnering with their parents and physicians to improve lifetime success. Children receive early intervention and developmental screening, early childhood education, autism diagnoses and functional assessment, pediatric specialty therapy interventions and family supports such as respite, wrap around care and adaptive technology focused on helping children reach their full potential in how they live, learn and play.
Ashley Leonhardt Lee was installed by her aunt Sheryl Cook at Easterseals’ annual meeting, who performed the ceremony as Easterseals only Honorary Lifetime Director, an honor her mother and Mrs. Lee’s grandmother Gloria Cook held for many years. Sheryl and her sister Vicki Cook Leonhardt, owners of Tom Cook Jeweler have followed the community footsteps of their parents Tom and Gloria Cook, who were Easterseals champions, locally and nationally for over 60 years. Now, Ashley Leonhardt Lee, Vicki’s daughter and Sheryl’s niece, is excited to embark on her own charitable journey as an advocate for her community and most especially, the children of Easterseals.
“I believe we have one of the best volunteer boards in our area with a healthy make up of seasoned, long term Easterseals supporters and a new class (or cohort) of diverse volunteers with a fresh set of ideas and experiences to help drive us into the future” says President & CEO Bev Johnson. “As a point of interest, we have a board where there is generational involvement. Several board members are 2nd generation volunteers and we have just inducted our first 3rd generation volunteer. We are incredibly fortunate to have longevity and history coupled with new vision and ideals. Our board members are able to honor our past with a strong vision for the future.”
My name is Dawn Melani, Charter School Principal. This is my 4th year with Easterseals.
My Primary responsibilities as the Principal are handling all of the day-to-day operations of the Charter School including teacher and paraprofessional supervision and training.
I enjoy building strong relationships with families. Our students benefit in so many ways when they have a strong home-school connection.
I believe to be successful you have to grow both personally and professionally. I have set my goals high and I’m committed to learning everything I can about my position. I embrace change and that has helped be grow personally as well.
I want to be known as the person any staff member or parent can go to for support or resources.
I love to be a mentor, help and give back!
I hope that when people think about Easterseals, they think about all the valuable child development and educational services we provide to help guide parents through the preschool years.
We are offering any family who has a child with autism the opportunity to attend the PLAY Intensive Workshop Online FREE. Please Share with any family that you feel would benefit from this training. Follow the link and enter CODE: IWOParent1021 https://playproject.org/project/intensive-workshop-online/
The PLAY Intensive Workshop Online (PLAY IWO) is a professionally designed course that is fun, engaging, and educationally effective.
You will learn to effectively and playfully engage young children with autism by taking The PLAY Intensive Workshop Online (PLAY IWO), a professionally designed course that is fun, engaging, and educationally effective. The IWO has approximately 10 hours of content to be completed asynchronously and has two live sessions to answer your questions in person.
Instead of having to attend two full days of training, missing work, and/or planning for childcare, learners can take the course when it is convenient for them over a three-week time span! Contact Dorthy Lefford at email@example.com for more information.
We celebrate and thank Rep. Tom Leek and Sen. Tom Wright for advocating tirelessly for legislative dollars to address autism diagnosis in our communityRead Now
Easterseals offers public recognition and personal thanks to Rep Tom Leek and Sen Tom Wright for their efforts on our behalf to secure and maintain important funding for our Autism Center of Excellence. In a budget year riddled with pandemic related caution and concern, and nearly, our advocates fought hard to serve our families. An appropriation of $250,000 was approved and is being utilized today to guide dozens of local families towards a definitive diagnosis of autism and evidence-based interventions for the best chance of childhood and lifetime success.
"We are so excited, grateful, and appreciative of the renewal and increase of funding for our Autism Center of Excellence, and the statewide expansion of the PLAY Project. Our autism program staff, in particular, is already preparing to start the new fiscal year strong. In the month of May, 2021, their volume grew from an average of 40-60 physician referrals each month to a whopping 89 referrals! Each referral represents a family and physician that has significant concerns about their child's development, in most cases a family that is significantly underinsured, and an entire team of folks eager to help their child succeed! They are so very grateful for the services we are able to provide." ~ Dorothy Lefford, Vice President Clinical Services
A fairly new and special category of recognition for Easterseals staff is our Emerging Leaders awards. These select staff members have been nominated by their supervisor for overall initiative and growth mindset for our organization.
Bobby Cyril, Supervisor, Case Management, Pediatric Specialty Therapy Services
Bobby is new to Easterseals but has jumped in with 2 feet to learn case management and research next steps to elevate the team to Targeted case managers. He was promoted to SOAR manager and has held two successful programs with teens promoting social skills, wellness and nutrition as well as Activities of Daily Living (ADL's). He has a gift for structure, organization and mentoring lending which definitely are qualities of rising leaders. Bobby also is a graduate of this years IMPACT Team.
Brenna Giblock, Program Manager, Easterseals Early Steps, North Beaches
Brenna K. Giblock, MSW Program Manager, Early Steps North Beaches, is responsible for assisting the Program Director with implementing the State Early Steps program locally, supervision of Early Steps program staff as well as meeting the needs and responsibilities of program staff, and maintenance of grant standards to meet the needs of Early Steps clients and their families. In everything she does, Brenna exemplifies her philosophy for her leadership success which lies in one simple concept -being approachable, listening - ensuring both families and staff feel heard.
Jillian Overbey, Charter School Teacher, Easterseals Charter School, Daytona
Jillian has recently stepped into a new role connecting the Charter School and the Early Childhood Education Center in Daytona. Jill is ever so eager to assist wherever is needed and is bringing her knowledge of ESE to the afterschool programming. Jill is always upbeat and happy and her energy is contagious.
Niki Roberts, Assistant Director, Early Childhood Education Center, Daytona
Niki is a new staff member to Easterseals, but has jumped in with both feet. Niki truly leads by example. There is not anything Niki isn’t willing to do….open the facility, run children to the classrooms, jump into a classroom, meet with parents. And Niki does it all with a smile.
Crystal Smithers, Family Service Coordinator Supervisor-Early Steps
Crystal is known to go the extra mile in all that she does. She was a member of the first IMPACT Team and this year she took a lead role on the planning committee. She shares her knowledge and experience as part of the team as well as Easterseals Early Steps as a whole. During the last year Early Steps brought on quite a few new Family Service Coordinators and Crystal has worked to enhance the trainings used and took on training many of the new FSC staff. She does not shy away from any task given.
Two of the leaders that we spotlighted last year as Emerging Leaders, have indeed, gone on towards promotions and increased responsibilities in their field.
Allison Berard, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, has taken on a new initiative, and a newly launching Behavior Services Program as Manager.
Gabriella Goeke, Assistant Director of Clinical Services, Speech-Language Pathologist was promoted recently in a newly created position to help manage our increased volume in pediatric specialty therapy services.
Congratulations to Easterseals Emerging Leaders!
Easterseals Power of Hope Award adds the Rotary Club of Daytona Beach to a distinguished list of recipientsRead Now
Of all the dynamic prior recipients of Easterseals highest award, the Power of Hope Award, formerly the Lily Award, one common theme among all of the collective accomplishments is dedication. Dedication that is sustained. Dedication that is measured by acts of true service and sincere giving. Dedication that is driven by intense passion for the clients that Easterseals serves, and the families who love them.
Last year, we were honored to award the inaugural Power of Hope Award to Kelly Parsons Kwiatek.
This year, we are honored to present the 2021 Power of Hope Award to the Rotary Club of Daytona Beach. The Rotary Club of Daytona Beach has hosted it's annual Golf Tournament for 40+ years to benefit Easterseals mission. During the height of the pandemic, they not only conducted a successful belated 40th anniversary event, but also rallied to get back on schedule just 8 short months later for the 41st year.
Both events exceeded expectations and pushed the total monies raised over the years over the $1 million mark!! Rosaria Upchurch, Dean Kurtz, Sheryl Cook and Bev Johnson accepted the award on behalf of the Rotary Club.
Easterseals is grateful for all of our volunteers year-round in the classrooms, special events, our holiday party and more. They are a loving extension of our staff and support the work that we do. There are some special folks that go above and beyond and we honor a few of our most involved.
Project Linus Volusia and their “Blanketeers” The volunteer “blanketeers” affiliated with Project Linus – both men and women – create beautiful handmade fleece and crocheted blankets and gift them to Easterseals about every six weeks. Their mission is to give “comfort blankets” to children in need, including new clients in therapy, Early Steps, audiology, and our classrooms, including Project Warm. They are beautiful!
John Yesolonia and PC Construction – A young, new dad with construction experience, John has volunteered to use his design and construction skills to help our Daytona center childhood staff and therapists build items for our clients that are normally cost-prohibitive for parents and clients.
Andy Peterson - Andy volunteered at the last minute on both occasions to help us with the Early Learning Coalition Annual Duck Race event- coming in 2nd place! and the Daytona Beach Rotary Club Annual golf tournament. He researched who we were before participating, wanting to be part of something meaningful for the community and was such a good sport and genuinely excited to help.
Generation Impact of United Way - Special thanks to the amazing crew of young professionals from the Generation Impact team of United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties. They’ve helped us several Saturdays with some prep as we reimagine and redesign our Early Childhood Center classrooms. More to come!!
We always appreciate the kindness and intentionality when folks choose to enhance our mission with their time, talents and expertise. Thank you!
Bev Johnson, President/CEO presented Attorney Channing Coolidge, the Excellence in Advocacy Award at our annual meeting at the Brannon Center in New Smyrna Beach.
"Channing is an advocate for Easterseals Northeast Central Florida in so many ways. I count on him to ask hard questions and talk through various situations that impact our operations. I know I can always pick up the phone and call him and he will thoughtfully and intentionally provide his thoughts. His insight is so very valuable and his passion for Easterseals' success is unparalleled."