Embracing Abilities, Expanding Possibilities Episode 3: How to Turn Around a Nonprofit in Crisis
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Emergency personnel are likely to have encounters with individuals with disabilities and those on the autism spectrum. For example, some law enforcement data have suggested that people with disabilities are seven times more likely to have police encounters than the general population. In this episode, you'll hear from Shannon Wess, an Autism Specialist with the Illinois Autism Partnership, about our First Responder Trainings for local police, fire, and ENT departments, as well as public service agencies. Each training focuses on strategies that emergency personnel can use to support and help individuals with autism in emergency situations. They are provided at no cost to the departments involved.
Carter Sanders is a person who approaches everything with intention, dedication, and preparation. He is on the autism spectrum and is a graduate of Easterseals Academy, an alternative school placement for students with ASD, emotional disability, developmental delay, or intellectual disability. Carter is currently an Easterseals employee at HB Threads (formerly Harry's Buttons), as well as a Special Olympian and energy ambassador. In this episode, Carter joins Sara Ray Stoelinga, President & CEO of Easterseals Serving Chicagoland and Greater Rockford (ESCGR) as well as Jason Reis, former ESCGR Employment Services Coordinator, and shares his journey.
When Sara Ray Stoelinga became the new President & CEO of Easterseals Serving Chicagoland and Greater Rockford in May 2019, the organization was in financial and organizational crisis. They were more than $22 million in debt with an additional several million dollars in unpaid bills and were barely making payroll. The direction and sustainability of the agency were uncertain. This podcast delves into how Stoelinga — together with the Board of Directors, strong new senior leaders, and essential external partners — righted the ship at the non-profit and the lessons learned along the way on the journey from organizational peril to a future of growth and prosperity.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are essential values at Easterseals Serving Chicagoland and Greater Rockford, yet, in many ways, DEI has become politicized or performative in our society. Recently, members of our Human Resources team worked to make sure DEI is part of the organization’s DNA in a way that feels consistent, collaborative, iterative, and reactive to feedback from staff from across the affiliate. In this podcast, the HR team talks about why DEI is foundational, conversational, and needs to be approached with realness so that existing staff, but also new hires, know that they are entering a diverse, welcoming environment in which they will feel fully seen and appreciated.
Early Intervention is a statewide program that provides supports and services for families to help their children under age three meet developmental milestones. You'll hear from our Early Intervention Program Managers Peter Byrne and Marlene Strobe in a conversation with our host Reema about our Early Intervention services.This podcast is meant to demystify how Early Intervention works for parents and caregivers, as well as provide information on how to access services.
At Easterseals Serving Chicagoland and Greater Rockford, one of our pillars is expanding possibilities for individuals with disabilities. HB Threads is our non-profit and social enterprise providing employment opportunities, job training, and life skills development for individuals with disabilities.
In this podcast, we talk with our Director of Social Enterprise and Employment Opportunities, Cody Wass, and two of our associates who are neurodivergent, Terry and Tyrell, who work at HB Threads producing custom apparel and buttons. We discuss the importance of competitive employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities with HB Threads as an example of what is possible.