Bingo Bonanza is Back on February 3, 2023

image of children, bright color circles and message that bingo bonanza is back on February 3, 2023, festival license 000834

 

Have you bought your Bingo Bonanza tickets yet? They are selling quickly!

Bingo Bonanza is back with all the fun that has made this a signature event for over 20 years. Prizes are bigger and better than ever; with seven games of bingo to play, the odds are great that YOU could win one of the terrific prize packages!

This event – presented by Century 21 Scheetz with grand sponsor HSA Home Warranty to benefit Easterseals Crossroads – takes place at Northside Events & Social Club. Along with seven games of bingo, dinner and two drink tickets are included with your ticket purchase. We will play one bonus game for the chance to win $1,000; bonus game cards will be available for purchase at Bingo Bonanza. In addition to the bingo games, there will be many other fun contests and opportunities for prizes.

Tickets are $55 per person and available as advance sale only. Due to charity gaming laws, tickets cannot be sold online and must be paid via cash or check. Order your tickets today; you do NOT want to miss all the fun at Bingo Bonanza 2023! (Festival License 000834)

You must be 21+ to attend Bingo Bonanza.

Download your order form today!

2023-01-18T12:24:17-05:00January 18, 2023|Our Blog|

Following Audrey

In 2014, 4-year-old Audrey was featured on the cover of the annual engagement report for Easterseals Crossroads. When Audrey’s parents realized that she was not meeting certain age-related milestones, such as sitting up and crawling during her first year, they engaged early intervention services through First Steps and Easterseals Crossroads at 9 months. In 2014, Audrey used a communication board along with signs to express herself and was learning to eat with adapted utensils and dress herself. As a happy 4-year-old, she was always excited to visit Easterseals Crossroads, greet staff members and point out her favorite wall art.

images of Audrey at the age of 4 swinging, walking, smiling and communicating


Speech-Language Goals

According to Audrey’s mom Julie, Audrey’s speech has changed tremendously since 2014. Audrey is now fully verbal with no need for sign language or a communication board. Julie notes that Audrey can still be somewhat hard to understand, but the family has found that people who know Audrey can understand her. Those who do not know her can understand the majority of what is said.

I can’t imagine what life would be like if I couldn’t have a conversation with my daughter; I’m so thankful that I can! It’s not easy (for her or us) coming to multiple therapy sessions each week for virtually her entire life, but the payoff has already been huge, and I believe it will continue, said Julie.

Occupational Therapy Goals

During her time with occupational therapists, Audrey has worked to learn to eat independently with utensils, drink from an open cup, dress herself, type on her chrome book, turn faucets on/off, brush her teeth, buckle/unbuckle her own seat belt, open various packages on her own for meals and so many other fine motor skills. “All of these things make our lives as parents so much easier and are great for Audrey’s feelings of independence,” said Julie.

“I remember one night a few years ago, when I heard Audrey turn the bathroom faucet on and off. This was a huge moment for us – this seemingly simple moment that so many parents take for granted. For us, it was a moment of independence – Audrey no longer needed to ask for help getting a drink of water,” said Julie.

Audrey is working very hard with handwriting. It appears as though handwriting may never be Audrey’s best form of communication, but her family feels that being able to write her name is incredibly important. Audrey is progressing with this, yet it is still very difficult for her. Aside from writing her name, other current goals include expressing her emotions properly, alternating arm movement, building strength in her hands/arms, coloring, cutting and performing fine motor tasks such as stringing beads. Therapy is hard work and Audrey attends multiple appointments weekly. Her therapists plan activities that are engaging because the hard work can affect Audrey’s focus on tasks.

Audrey Today

Audrey is now in 7th grade where she enjoys singing in the choir, music and dancing. She enjoys swimming lessons, watching shows, supporting the Indianapolis Indians team and especially mascot Rowdie. As a huge baseball fan, she has memorized how to sing the national anthem at baseball games; she loves joining in with Take me out to the Ballgame after the 7th inning stretch; and she knows the announcements at the end of the game.

images of Audrey at Camp FUEL smiling with counselor and walking with pony

In addition to therapy appointments twice each week, Audrey has attended camps offered by Easterseals Crossroads. She began with CampAbility when she was 4 years old. According to her parents, Audrey would have not benefited from traditional day camp. “Audrey absolutely loves attending camps every summer and enjoys the photo book that the camp counselors have made for her after camp. This past year, Audrey attended Camp FUEL, which we called the big kids camp. We were worried that she would be among the youngest, but the counselors were great and Audrey loved it. It’s wonderful to know that we can always count on Easterseals camps to provide a fun summer experience for her,” said Julie.

“Easterseals has been a resource for Audrey and services have grown with her adjusting therapies to her specific needs and to our desires for her. The therapists care about what is important to our family, and these are the skills they will work on,” said Julie.

“Easterseals has been a huge blessing in our lives. Her therapists over the years have done things to show their care for Audrey as a person, not just a client. Things like taking photos of their pets to show Audrey when she asked; showing her their pets via zoom when we did therapy virtually during Covid; gifting her a weighted stuffed animal because she liked one at therapy. We love how everyone here knows her and us. It isn’t uncommon for the maintenance staff to greet us and comment on how far Audrey has progressed over the years,” said Julie.

And you know – as a mom, I love seeing the different abilities of the staff at Easterseals Crossroads. Seeing adults at work who may have ability levels similar to Audrey gives me hope and confidence for her future as a working adult, said Julie.

2023-01-05T11:36:07-05:00January 5, 2023|Our Blog|

The Spirit of Giving

Easterseals Crossroads serves and advocates for people with disabilities. This mission is powerful and relies on delivery to fulfill the promise. The why behind the mission is clear – Easterseals Crossroads envisions a community with 100% equity, inclusion and access for people with disabilities. This vision depends heavily on the actions of staff, volunteers, donors and partners to turn the goals into reality.

People who act for Easterseals Crossroads in support of the mission and vision are making an investment in the lives of those with disabilities. This investment includes support for children who need therapy services to communicate, grow and learn. Investment continues for adults with disabilities who want to work independently and be a vital part of our workforce. Investment honors our veterans who have served our country yet now need resources and support to thrive again.

Investing in people with disabilities and veterans is what staff members at the agency do every single day. Community support drives us forward as the agency depends upon philanthropy for 25% of its operating budget each year. Without support from our partners, donors, sponsors, volunteers and friends, we would not be able to meet the needs of individuals, families and veterans in central Indiana.

Join us and those in our community who connect with us through time, talent and resources.

Individual Donors

Karen and Rich live on the north side with their dog Charlie. They have been supporters of Easterseals Crossroads for many years; their support extends to yearly donations and attendance at events, such as Bingo Bonanza, which returns this year on Friday, February 3. (Bingo Bonanza 2023 tickets will go on sale on January 3; watch for more information soon – festival license 000834.)While they have not needed services from Easterseals Crossroads, they know they could at some point in their lives; they give for that reason. They realize a community such as ours needs resources so that every member has equal access to independence at work, home, school and play.

We give because people with disabilities need support from a resource that is truly a pillar in our community. I remember Crossroads from when I volunteered there as a Girl Scout in the 60s; we helped prepare mailings by stuffing envelopes. Disability can happen to anyone; no one is immune. I want to know that Easterseals Crossroads would be there for me or someone in my family if the need was there, said Karen.

Sandra lives on the south side with her husband; her three children are grown and have families of their own. She has taken an interest in Easterseals Crossroads since 2007 when she participated or volunteered at various fundraising events from walks to Bingo Bonanza.

2 photos of Sandra and family members

 

She chose to continue her support for the agency the more she learned about the services provided by the agency. In fact, her grandson receives speech-language therapy services from Easterseals Crossroads. Sandra has observed the progress and changes that her grandson has made and has been very impressed.

My daughter has selected Easterseals Crossroads as her service provider for her son. She has seen firsthand the increase in independence evident with Theo. Theo feels right at home with his therapist and he has made huge progress. Easterseals Crossroads is actually part of our family at this point and we have all gotten behind that support that is so beneficial to us, said Sandra.

Sandra feels that Easterseals Crossroads fills a void for so many people in our community who depend upon services. As a donor, she is motivated to continue her support because she knows that without donations of time, resources and money, many vital programs would suffer in ability to deliver.

Volunteer and Donor

Vally is a long-time supporter of the agency. She joined the volunteer group Crossroads Guild in 1989; since then, she has donated her time, her talents and her resources frequently. She is often in the main building helping with events for children’s programs and she works with other members of the Guild to create items that are sold at craft and hobby shows. The Guild generates income from these events and other activities to donate back to the agency.

“I know how important services from Easterseals are to so many families in our community. I have worked within the children’s programs as a volunteer and I have seen the progress, growth and overall results in preparing these kids for a better life as they mature. The therapists literally change and improve the quality of lives for so many by building confidence and ability with life skills,” said Vally.

Vally and other Guild members are always on call to assist with agency needs. The group firmly believes in the motto of providing helping hands and they acknowledge that those helping hands come in many forms from contributions of time, money, knowledge, skills and kindness.

“Easterseals Crossroads is a very reliable, trusting and capable agency and our community is fortunate to have them as part of our healthcare system. Services come in so many shapes and sizes because of so many needs that need to be met. Veteran services have a special place in my heart. Many community services provide for children, underprivileged or elderly, but often our military or returning military members are thought of last. While we think of our military as always strong, willing and able, that is not always true. Sometimes needs are not always obvious, but they are so critical and important to address. Easterseals Crossroads meets many of those needs for our veterans. My parents and many of my uncles served in the military and  I support military services financially to honor my family,” said Vally.

I have seen firsthand the dedication and loyalty from the Easterseals Crossroads staff members. The fact they each of them could work anywhere and are choosing to serve at Easterseals Crossroads tells me that they are invested and that they clearly believe in the mission, said Vally.

Corporate Donors

Eight Eleven Group strives daily to create a culture that attracts, retains and grows people from all backgrounds. By taking great pride and responsibility in constantly improving their methods, they can maintain an environment that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion. Through their inclusive pipelines of talent, they build teams reflective of their communities celebrating differences and aligning with both the goals of their partners  and core values. With service being one of those core values, the group understands how important the work of philanthropic organizations is to the communities served. Indianapolis holds a special place in their hearts as it has been the home of their humble beginnings in 2000 and now home to their national headquarters.

Eight Eleven Group has joined us this year as our matching gift sponsor – the group is matching all gifts up to $30,000. Supporting Easterseals Crossroads and the Indianapolis community is a true honor for the group and having 30+ offices around the country gives them an opportunity to make a broader impact.

colorful circles, words donate now and matching gifts plus link to donate

2022-12-27T09:29:21-05:00December 27, 2022|Our Blog|

Following Theo

You might recognize Theo as part of our Stronger Together campaign a few years ago! Theo still receives speech therapy services at Easterseals Crossroads, and we wanted to catch up with him and see how his journey is going.

Theo has been working with his speech pathologist Brittnie since January of 2021. She has seen him achieve numerous goals in the time he has been with her. Theo is now working on more challenging language and speech sound goals. “We hope to improve his overall intelligibility of speech and work on higher-level language tasks that will help within his academic setting,” mentions Brittnie.

 

Theo also receives speech therapy at his school building in a small group setting and Brittnie mentions the importance of open communication between parents, school therapists and herself. “I only see Theo for 45 minutes every other week during the school year. It is vital to know how Theo is doing with his speech and language skills outside of the speech therapy room,” says Brittnie. “This maximizes his progress and ensures carry-over of his skills across settings.”

 

“We truly work as a team, this is a partnership with one goal; to see Theo thrive and succeed,” says mom, Allison. “We compare IEP plans and goals from school with Brittnie in order to make sure we are all working on complementary tasks and goals.” Theo’s family has witnessed the benefit of small group setting in school in addition to individualized one on one sessions at Easterseals Crossroads.

“Theo is such a hard worker. He is extremely motivated to develop his skills and always puts forth his best effort. When new skills are targeted, he never gives up, and will continue to try until he is able to complete all tasks presented,” Brittnie points out.  “He is a happy and easy-going kiddo. He is always willing to work on anything I ask him to work on and is always glad to participate during speech therapy sessions. Because of this engagement, he continues to make awesome progress. It is truly a pleasure to work with Theo and I look forward to seeing him each week.”

 

2022-12-16T10:08:00-05:00December 14, 2022|Our Blog|

Eight Eleven Group – Corporate Partner Highlight

Easterseals Crossroads has been a community resource for over 85 years. Along with individual support, we depend upon relationships with businesses and corporations to improve our ability to deliver services to those in our community who depend upon our services. In fact, we rely on philanthropy to meet approximately 25%  of our operating budget.

Eight Eleven Group is a valued partner to Easterseals Crossroads; in addition to other initiatives with us, they are also our matching gift sponsor for our annual engagement campaign. The group is matching  all donations up to $30,000 through December 31, 2022.

Part of the Central Indiana Community

Eight Eleven Group is the parent company of three separate professional services and consulting organizations: Medasource, Brooksource and Calculated Hire. Brooksource is specifically focused on providing support for organizations’ engineering and IT needs; Medasource is specifically tailored to serving the unique needs of the healthcare industry with focus areas in HIT, nursing, life sciences and more. Lastly, Calculated Hire works to support companies across various industries with the more traditional business roles like marketing, accounting, HR, sales and customer service.

As a parent company, Eight Eleven Group provides the operational support to help all three of these organizations excel. The Eight Eleven family of companies often say Relationships are at the center of all we do. This driving mission has been at their core ever since they started in 2000. Just as they value the relationships with clients and consultants, they also value investing in the communities they serve. Thanks to partnerships and workforce transformation program Elevate, they have been able to secure promising careers for emerging professionals from diverse talent pools, US Military veterans and other underserved members of the community. Though their focus areas have continued to mindfully evolve, their unyielding commitment to relationships and the customers’ needs remain consistent and firmly rooted in their core values.

Partnership with Easterseals

Eight Eleven Group is proud to partner with Easterseals Crossroads for the first time as part of their quarterly impact pledge. Thanks to the partnership, Easterseals will be receiving a financial donation from Eight Eleven Group that will match each gift given during the end of year campaign to further support efforts to help individuals with disabilities and their families live better lives. In addition to this matching gift sponsorship, the group has been collaborating with Easterseals Crossroads for informative webinars that educate their employees about the challenges faced in the workplace by many professionals with disabilities. Through these eye-opening conversations, the group hopes to foster better understanding and accommodation for those who need it most. They will continue to encourage employees to get involved through volunteering as they maintain their commitment to finding new ways to support the community.

Committed to Giving Back

Throughout the year each of the group’s markets participate in small local philanthropic endeavors from working at food kitchens, holding donation drives and cleaning parks. This is possible thanks to their VTO hours where each employee is given eight hours of paid time off a quarter to volunteer with an event or organization. Each year they also send roughly 30 of employees to Mexico on a home building service trip. Last year they were able to build houses for two separate families in need.

In September of 2022, they held their fifth annual E3 Day of Service, a nationwide day of volunteering for the whole organization. Across the nation, their  markets partnered with local philanthropies to help support the communities they serve. Our HQ partnered with Million Meal Movement to raise $16,058 for the organization and pack 23,000 individual meals. The year of 2022 marked a few new beginnings for Eight Eleven, including the start of Eleven Days of Giving, a veteran-focused campaign that counts down to Veterans Day by donating $55,000 to eleven different organizations who are equally committed to supporting the military community.

The year 2022 also marked the start of their quarterly impact, a pledge to donate to a national organization aligned with one of their employee-led connection groups each quarter. So far, they have donated $44,051 to YearUp, an incredible organization helping young adults gain access to meaningful careers and futures;  $45,212 for 4Ocean, an ocean cleanup company dedicated to ending the ocean plastic crisis; and $50,000 to The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for LGBTQ young people.

Making our Community a Better Place

Eight Eleven Group strives daily to create a culture that attracts, retains and grows people from all backgrounds. By taking great pride and responsibility in constantly improving their methods, they can maintain an environment that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion. Through their inclusive pipelines of talent, they build teams reflective of their communities celebrating differences and aligning with both the goals of their partners  and core values. With service being one of those core values, the group understands how important the work of philanthropic organizations is to the communities served. Indianapolis holds a special place in their hearts as it has been the home of their humble beginnings in 2000 and now home to their national headquarters. Supporting Easterseals Crossroads and the Indianapolis community is a true honor for the group and having 30+ offices around the country gives them an opportunity to make a broader impact.

Looking Ahead

Eight Eleven Groups elevates our community by providing better employment opportunities and experiences for professionals with disabilities. As an organization whose operations revolve around the hiring process, building diverse teams and providing individuals with promising careers, they are always looking for better ways to ensure a welcoming environment regardless of one’s background. This is key as to the partnership with Easterseals Crossroads  since we have been helping individuals with disabilities and their families live better lives for more than 85 years. The group also saw this partnership as an opportunity to increase the awareness and education of their own employees as well as clients about challenges and misconceptions that many professionals with disabilities face.

Eight Eleven Group is encouraged by Easterseals work to help adults with disabilities who are seeking meaningful employment opportunities. Through awareness and education, the group hopes to better their own efforts in supporting these underserved individuals. The Eight Eleven family of companies’ core business operations revolve around professional services and consulting. By partnering with Easterseals Crossroads, they know they can combine efforts and grow the employment offerings for professionals of all backgrounds.

Although this is Eight Eleven Group’s first time working with Easterseals Crossroads, they are aware of our agency’s commitment to enriching the lives of the Indianapolis community. This is especially true when it comes to the ability to provide resources and training that help individuals learn, grow, develop and thrive.

Learn more about Eight Eleven Group.

2022-12-06T13:34:07-05:00December 6, 2022|Our Blog|

Meet Harrison – Early Intervention Services can redefine Ability

Harrison’s family knows him as a kind, loving child who is very social; they never know what he is going to say or do next. Harrison’s mom Amy describes her pregnancy with Harrison as typical, but once he arrived, a heart murmur was detected. This lead to open heart surgery along with some other medical issues; eventually Harrison was diagnosed with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that is present at birth and characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning challenges.

At around 6 months, the family knew that early intervention services were critical for his development and started with physical therapy and occupational therapy. Speech-language services began later.

Williams syndrome is rare and we learned to take it all one day at a time because the range of ability with Williams kids is so broad. We realized we couldn’t control outcomes, but we could provide Harrison resources to advance, said mom Amy.

When Harrison aged out of early intervention services at 3, his family wanted to continue his therapy appointments at Easterseals Crossroads. Now 8 years old, he is working on occupational therapy skills that include buttoning, zipping, tying and holding a pencil to write. He continues to work on conversation, chewing and swallowing with his speech-language pathologist.

“It was a game changer for me when I could see that Williams syndrome did not have to define Harrison; he is Harrison first and everything else comes second to that. He can still do what he wants to do; it just may be a little harder. This does not have to define who he is for his life,” said Amy.

Learn more about Harrison’s early intervention services by watching the video below.

2022-12-05T14:58:37-05:00December 5, 2022|Our Blog|

Meet Alec – College Intern who is Redefining Ability

image of Alec, College InternXperience participant and colorful circle images

Alec is a senior at University of Indianapolis working on both his master’s and his bachelor’s degrees. According to Alec, being busy means he is never bored. His quest to stay busy led him to his desire for an internship opportunity arranged through his school and the College InternXperience program at Easterseals Crossroads. In its seventh year, the program partners with eight local colleges to help recruit qualified students who have a diagnosis of autism.

“I have seen less anxiety and increased confidence with students who participate in an internship. The program benefits employers because they learn more about inclusion, which is essential for work environments,” said Easterseals Crossroads program specialist Rhonda Wood.

Alec’s skills and interests made him a terrific candidate for an analyst position in the Treasures of the Earth exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Alex researches in the lab and fields questions in the exhibit.

“The internship has given me confidence. I now know that I want teaching position in my field of study,” said Alec. “It feels amazing to know that I’m teaching someone and that they’ve learned something from me.”

“Partnerships with community organizations are very important because no organization can do it all alone; creating a better community depends on different voices working together to make that happen. We want families who visit our museum to see themselves in our workforce and Easterseals Crossroads helps make that happen,” said Grant Goshorn, STEM Galleries Interpretation Manager, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Watch the brief video below to learn more about Alec and his internship.

2022-12-01T14:09:25-05:00December 1, 2022|Our Blog|

Meet George and Geofferey – Twins who are Redefining Ability

George and Geofferey are mom Frankie’s miracles and little angels. When Frankie was seven weeks pregnant, her husband was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. He knew Frankie was pregnant, but passed away before he learned that she would have twins.

When the boys were 15 months, Frankie began to see signs that Geofferey’s development might be delayed and a few months later saw signs with George. She learned that both boys did have autism.

The boys have been involved in autism and behavior programs at Easterseals Crossroads ever since. They are now 5 years old and just graduated from early childhood classes; they are ready socially and academically for kindergarten and their futures.

“Parents of children with autism don’t always know the right thing to do. Having a team has meant all the difference — it has made me realize that I am not alone. I don’t have to be afraid of things that are different because they are different for the better,” said Frankie.

 Having boys with autism didn’t bring negativity into my life; it brought light. I have learned that you accept your life and you create your story. And with Easterseals Crossroads as a part of my story, it will have a much better outcome for George and Geofferey, said Frankie.

Watch the brief video below to learn more about George and Geofferey.

2022-11-21T13:04:53-05:00November 21, 2022|Our Blog|

Ability Redefined

Easterseals Crossroads has been redefining ability for over 85 years because our community is at its strongest when all people bring their own strengths to the table. While ability can change throughout the course of a lifetime, Easterseals Crossroads remains a constant for individuals with disabilities so that they can live their best lives.

Our pediatric therapy programs and autism services, as well as our camp and respite programs, ensure that our schools benefit from the full participation of the children and families we serve. Our employement services, our veteran services and our services for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people ensure that youth and adults are able to participate as valued members of the workforce. Our entire community depends on us to serve and advocate for people with disabilities and their families.

To continue to meet the needs of our vast community, we depend upon philanthropy to reach 25% of our operating budget each year. We know that a healthy and vibrant community includes equity, inclusion and access for people with disabilities and their families.

Donate today to make this a reality for central Indiana.

bright color circles with Easterseals Crossroads logo and words donate today, matching gifts

2022-11-16T13:26:55-05:00November 16, 2022|Our Blog|

They Have Your Six

written by Will Baker, video producer and writer

Easterseals Crossroads Provides Military Veterans With More Than Just Assistance

“Thanks to Easterseals Crossroads, I realized I could turn my life around if I decided to work hard and go for it,” said Deanna, a US Army veteran with a disability. “They supported me, gave me a shoulder to lean on, and provided the first steps to get my life back on track.”

image of Deanna at filing cabinet

Deanna, a soft-spoken woman who brings a spark of joy to every room she’s in, first came to Easterseals Crossroads in October of 2021, arriving in Indianapolis from North Carolina with the clothes on her back. “I didn’t have any of my identification documents with me. I was struggling with mental illness. I didn’t even have a coat. But the VA hospital put me in contact with John Goings.”

Goings is the Director of Veteran Services at Easterseals Crossroads–he’s a big man, beard down to his chest, with an even bigger personality–you can’t help but smile when you talk to him. “When the VA told me about Deanna, I immediately got in touch with her,” he said. “When I picked her up in my truck, she was real quiet–I would have been too. Strange guy, strange city. But after a few minutes, she really warmed up and started making little jokes here and there–things she was seeing in the city. When we got to my office, we sat up there for probably two hours, doing paperwork, and just getting to know each other. I didn’t dig deep into her situation–I’m not a social worker–I just wanted to find out what she was experiencing so I could best help her.”

Deanna now works at the same VA hospital that first connected her with Goings and Easterseals Crossroads. She was wearing her blue hospital scrubs for our interview, an ID tag hanging from the Army lanyard around her neck. At first, she was quiet and reserved, much like when she first met John ten months prior. And while her story has a happy ending, it was a series of traumatic events that first caused her to need the assistance of Easterseals Crossroads.

“I was a specialist in the Army, and I ended up getting medically discharged after a freak accident involving a duty truck.” She was reading her story softly off of prepared notes. “I dislocated my shoulder and was given the option to come home, so I did.” She stopped to collect herself, “Last spring, another tragic event took place. I was expecting a child, and the pregnancy,” she pauses again, longer this time, taking deep breaths. “The pregnancy did not last. And after that, I was really mentally off my game. Depression set in.”

Deanna said she knew she needed to do something to get her life back on track. “I was at a place in my life where I understood that I had so much more life to live. But depression and mental illness are real, and if you don’t get the help you need and get things under control, you can spiral, and it’s a very dark and lonely road. But finding the resources and the people who were willing to help veterans made a big difference in my life.”

“Deanna has been a workhorse from the beginning,” Goings said with his big, signature smile. “She was determined to get things done, and she did a lot of the legwork involved in getting her birth certificate. It’s not an easy process, and it was made more difficult because she was born in Germany. As she worked to do that, we gave her job leads.”

Not only did Goings and the Easterseals Crossroads team help Deanna with job leads, they also made sure she had the clothing necessary to survive an Indiana winter. “I’m from North Carolina,” Deanna said, “and I had never seen snow last for more than a day or two!”

The team put together a custom plan for Deanna. “We figured out what steps I needed to follow to get back on track; honestly, the Easterseals Crossroads resources seemed unlimited. Anything I asked for, they were able to get for me, or put me in touch with the right person. They reminded me that I had skills from the Army and that I could apply those skills in a better career. I had inventory in my background, and I wanted to find a career in which I could do what I love and that I’m already pretty good at. So we zeroed in and targeted those opportunities.”

Deanna quickly found work in the VA’s compensated work therapy program. “That was the start of getting her into her career as an inventory specialist at the VA, which is where she wanted to be,” said Goings. “By working at the VA, she can finish out her federal time and buy back the time she served in the military, and earn her federal retirement.”

“I am finally in a place where I have full-time employment,” said Deanna. “I’ve got transportation; I am about to sign a lease and move into a comfortable place close to work–all the things I didn’t think I would have when I started this journey last year. I want to continue to do a great job and see where my career takes me in the next few years. The encouragement and the support that I received from Easterseals Crossroads–I hadn’t felt that kind of support since leaving my parents’ house after high school. And for me to be a disabled veteran, I know that so many of us are forgotten about or just caught up in the system.”

Goings said Easterseals Crossroads’ hands-on approach is what sets the agency apart from other programs, “we meet veterans where they are,” he explained. “We meet them on the streets. We meet them in parking lots because they may be living in a car. Our speed of service is our signature. We can provide services within a day–within a few minutes if it’s an emergency.”

Easterseals Crossroads helps 130 veterans a year as part of its grant program, with a 70% employment placement rate. “We actually engage hundreds more through events in various counties,” said Goings. “We go into the prisons; we go into the county jails; we try to assist as many as we can wherever they are.”

Goings said it’s easy for him to relate to what these men and women are going through, “I’ve been in some pretty awful positions myself. I lived in a ’74 Blazer at a truck stop for a while. In those situations, you learn how to adapt, just like you did in the military. The people we serve want to hear straight talk from me, directly, truthfully. I’m here to coach, but by creating a shared connection, I’m able to help our veterans redefine their abilities in new and modern ways by looking at what they did in the past with their jobs in the military and putting it to use in a job in the future.”

Goings said his staff works on the A-B-C principle – A job, a Better job, and a Career. “We’ve had everything from chefs to geospatial engineers come through. We move clients past that boring hourly job, and into the career they were looking for all along.”

As for Deanna, her experience with Goings and his staff was far more than she could have imagined. “A lot of different service providers make you do everything by yourself, but at Easterseals Crossroads, we did this together. They pushed me to reach my goals, and every accomplishment builds you back up.”

“With Deanna, I always said we spoke the same language,” Goings said. “I was able to connect with her on that level, aside from our military background. She still calls or texts me with random things, just to let me know she’s doing okay, or if she’s had a bad day. It’s good for her to know I’m here for her.”

“They treat me like family,” Deanna said. “There’s a sense of camaraderie, and a support system. I want my brothers and sisters in arms to know that it’s okay to ask for help, and that sometimes when you come home, it’s not the same home you left. But at Easterseals Crossroads, you can find a new family, and make the new home you need. The staff makes sure we know we’re appreciated for our service. They’re there for us–they have our six.”

As the interview was wrapping up, Deanna handed me her phone to take a picture of her in front of the American and POW flags. She said she wanted a nice, professionally lit photo for her profile picture. As we chatted, she was now fully at ease, her notes abandoned, and her personality was shining through. I asked her what she would say to anyone who was in a similar position to where she had been. “I’d say to them, if you’re having a hard time like I’ve had a hard time, and you’re struggling to find your balance and find support, I’d say reach out to Easterseals Crossroads. If you’re at their door, help is one step away.”

2022-11-08T11:38:23-05:00November 8, 2022|Our Blog|
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