For nearly 100 years, Easter Seals has been assisting those with disabilities and special needs through child development centers, physical rehabilitation, job training. And this past week, Tara Schneider, an interior designer at Carson Design Associates, selected the group’s Easter Seals Crossroads organization to donate her time and talents—as part of Carson Design’s community service initiative for their Indy team.
Easter Seals Crossroads exists to help people live better lives through a variety of “ability services,” as they call them, including deaf communication classes, job training and placement for disabled adults, physical therapy resources for disabled and returning veterans, speech therapy, daycare for the mentally/developmentally disabled, and many more.
As part of her volunteer service, Tara helped facilitate the group’s Fall Festival—an annual carnival that celebrates Adult Day Services Week (#ADSWeek2016), as well as the Easter Seals Crossroads Adult Day Care staff and members.
“It was a chance encounter,” Tara recalls how she first got connected to Easter Seals Crossroads. “I was on the United Way website looking for volunteer opportunities in the area. My only requirement was that I must be able to relate to the group and see myself returning to help in the future.”
It was an immediate and deep connection for Tara, whose 18-year-old stepbrother still cannot speak due to his severe autism. She knows there are many others like him—bright, funny and kind individuals—who simply want others to see the good internally that they cannot express externally. Easter Seals Crossroads created such an opportunity for Tara.
“I feel very strongly that people should not be judged for something that they cannot control—especially when it comes to first impressions,” Tara added. “Many people tend to hold unrealistic views about those who are disabled, and in turn do not afford them the same kindness as those without disabilities.”
But as much as Tara volunteered to help others in need, she was the one who left feeling well loved.
“What resonated with me was how nice and accepting everyone was. They had never met me, but were instantly ready to let me join in their special day. One man told me jokes all day, another asked me all about my family and weekend plans, and a woman—unable to speak—sat with me on the couch, held my hand, and snuggled in my lap just minutes after meeting me. I felt like I had witnessed more kindness in that one day than ever in a typical week.”
Throughout the year, Easter Seals offers services and programs for people of any age group and with any disability. Visit their website to see what opportunities might resonate with you, as they did for Tara.