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Ambassador Families

Easterseals DC MD VA provides comprehensive direct care services to thousands of children and adults in our neighborhoods, no matter their disability, military status, income, race, or age: To help each child reach their full potential, we provide personalized child development and early intervention services. To improve health and reduce isolation in adults with disabilities, we offer engaging activities and expansive resources. To enable military families to integrate into the community, we provide a suite of services, including employment support and mental healthcare. And to sustain families and caregivers, we provide comprehensive services and supports. These ambassadors are some of those we serve.

The Grant Family

The Grant family continues to maintain hope, even when the odds seem stacked against them. For years, Dad was a single father of three children — ages 7, 9, and 10 — the oldest of whom has Autism, is non-verbal, and needs daily supervision and therapies.

The pandemic was especially hard on the Grants. When COVID-19 caused care sites to close, many of his son’s therapies stopped or were offered only virtually, which caused him to have frequent meltdowns and regress. Dad continued to be an advocate for his son, even when, as a firefighter/medic who also serves in the National Guard, Dad was called into active service to administer vaccines.

The other Grant children also transitioned to virtual schooling and Dad ensured that each child was as successful as possible. The return to in-person education helped in some ways, but challenges remained, especially for his son with Autism, who needed to catch up on the learning he had lost during virtual schooling.

Through it all, Mr. Grant has shown perseverance and has proven to be a positive role model for his children. Over the past few years he has worked multiple jobs to help support his family. He often works overtime to help cover the cost of everyday living, compounded by the expense of childcare, therapy appointments, and educational needs. At one point, Dad moved the family in with his mother to help them save money in hopes of one day purchasing a place they could call their own.

He does his best to protect his children from “grown up” issues like finances and harmful family dynamics. One thing that helps is time spent together having fun. Through Easterseals and the Robert S. Wilson Community Respite, a Signature Program of the Robert Irvine Foundation, the Grant family receives the monthly Family Kits, each filled with a new do-it-yourself activity. Every kit carries a different theme and is age appropriate for the whole family. Whether decorating cookies, painting bird houses, or unleashing their inner creativity with an arts & craft box, the Grant family always looks forward to these kits!

Recently, things have been looking up for the family. Thanks to their father’s hard work, dedication, and careful budgeting, the Grants have been able to purchase their own home. In addition, Dad has recently gotten married to a woman who has been an amazing support to the family. She has embraced his children and never pulled back when she saw up close how hard it can be to raise a child with a disability.

Things are still a challenge, but Dad is proud of what he has accomplished. He has also decided to enhance his career by going back to school to earn his full paramedic’s license. Although it requires intense schooling, while continuing to work and raise his children, he’s confident this will help him give his family a bright future. And for this father who works so hard to provide for his family, nothing is out of reach with hope and hard work.

The Scully-DeBatt Family

 

When Danny began having seizures at 4½ months of age, the doctors diagnosed him with a brain anomaly known as lissencephaly. They told his parents that Danny would never walk or talk, and may never smile or recognize them. Many children with lissencephaly die before their second birthday. Heartbroken, they vowed to give their son as normal and happy a life as they could for as long as he was with them. But Danny required a high level of care and both parents needed to work full time. That’s where Easterseals was able to help.

Danny enrolled in Easterseals Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Child Development Center, where a range of professionals was able to care for him. “His teacher is amazing,” mom, Megan, said at the time. “The therapists are world-class and have been wonderful coaches for us. The fact that the therapists are on site is also wonderful because Danny’s schedule is constantly changing, and they can work around him and his needs.”

Easterseals also had the equipment that Danny needed to help him socialize. “Danny has low muscle tone, so can’t sit up on his own,” Megan explains. “They have a toddler activity chair in the classroom that helps him sit up and play with his friends. Having access to this specialized equipment is a game changer for him.”

Danny’s parents were grateful that, while they’re at work, their son was engaged, developing, and loved. “It made us realize that anything is possible.”

And anything is possible for this seven-year-old, who is now a second grader at a DC public school. Thanks to Easterseals, Danny began using an eye gaze communications device while at the center. He is now learning to read, is able to participate in classroom assignments, and even has gotten in trouble for leading a protest for more recess time! He goes to birthday parties, fights with his brothers, and cracks jokes. After his first day of school, Megan asked Danny what he did that day. His response? "Some of these, some of that."

Megan attributes so much of Danny's accomplishments to the care and therapies and socialization he got at such an early age at Easterseals. But Easterseals hasn't just helped Danny. Their support helped this family navigate an incredibly trying time and gave them the knowledge and strength to not just navigate a life that was very different than they had imagined, but also to love and enjoy it!