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.
By Guest Blogger Diana Lindley
My name is Diana Lindley and I’m a proud Easterseals Northeast Central Florida team member.
One of my responsibilities at Easterseals is assisting with the Community Equipment Loan Closet. The Community Equipment Loan Closet is a community resource intended to support anyone with physical challenges or disabilities. All equipment is loaned at no charge; Easterseals asks individuals to make a small donation to support the program. The Community Equipment Loan Closet provides canes, crutches, shower chairs and benches, folding walkers, four-wheel walkers with seats and wheelchairs.
Recently, I received a note from a client named Sandy describing how much our Loan Closet program has meant to her. She wrote, “Thank you so much for the use of the shower bench! After nearly three weeks (of doing without), being able to take a shower felt like paradise! It was the best shower of my life.
“It’s the little things we so often take for granted,” continued Sandy. “Thank you for the service you provide our community. It is truly needed and very much appreciated!"
It’s such a good feeling to know that those living in our community have the opportunity to live a full life and have not been forgotten. It always puts a smile on my face knowing that a piece of equipment that was needed was received and knowing how happy it makes the recipient feel.
I’m proud to be an Easterseals advocate. We at Easterseals help others by showing love and support to families so they do not feel alone and by providing the services and programs that meet the needs of the families. It is a team endeavor, not a one-man show. When you put the needs of others before your own needs, your life is better for it and you are truly blessed.
Are you interested in supporting Easterseals’ Community Equipment Loan Closet? Loan Closet accepts donations and always needs donations of durable medical equipment. Simply drop off the equipment weekdays between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Easterseals, 1219 Dunn Ave., Daytona Beach, or call to arrange a pickup of large items or large quantities of items. For more information, call 386-944-7821 or toll-free 877-255- 4568, ext. 321.