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!
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.