Today's post was written by Becky Lohman who has worked at Easter Seals Crossroads for 15 years, mostly in the Employment Division, as a Training Specialist and Benefits Liaison.
I recently celebrated my 15th service anniversary as an employee with Easter Seals Crossroads. Every day at work, I see firsthand the scope of services and feel the impact that our agency provides to adults and children with disabilities and their families. But, the work that we do as an agency was never more evident to me than last year when I was asked to help supervise preparing archived paper files of our consumers for digital imaging. The records would then be scanned and shredded at Crossroads Document Services, a division of Crossroads Industrial Services, whose production facilities are staffed primarily by those with disabilities.
As a computer trainer and IT staff member, I was very happy about “going digital.” It was the next logical step in our effort to become paperless. Most of our departments had already transitioned to using a secure Electronic Medical Records (EMR) database to track current consumer records and staff caseloads. We now would have a system to quickly access these archived records for our consumers, who often return multiple times for help as they progress through life.
So along with my colleague, Crista McIntosh, and six production workers who each had a disability, I quickly learned how best to remove staples from fragile, old computer or typewriter paper; smooth out wrinkled (sometimes coffee-stained!) pages; and keep a sharp eye out for paperclips, Post-it notes, or anything else that could cause a scanner to jam. I soon was wearing funny-looking rubber finger and thumb tips that allowed me to shuffle through thousands of pages a day. I even had to break down and buy a pair of reading glasses!
By the time the project came to an end, over 16,000 consumer records were prepared for the scanning process. As I was working through the last group of files, I took a moment to look around me. Surrounded by hundreds of cardboard file boxes stacked on wood pallets, I was overwhelmed by that swelling of warmth and emotion that you feel inside your heart.
Every file we had prepped--some with hundreds of pages of notes and reports, others with just a few sheets of documentation--has its own story. One that Easter Seals Crossroads helped to write over the years. These just weren’t pieces of papers stuck inside brown cardboard boxes. I was surrounded by people’s hopes and goals; setbacks and pain; triumphs and struggles; and most important their ABILITY to overcome.
Whether on paper or in digital format, there’s just no way to truly record what Easter Seals Crossroads has done and the chapters we will continue to write with our consumers, their families, and the community!