Here at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region, we recognize that volunteers are crucial to keeping our organization excellent. We recognize it so much that we recruit from different organizations. Recently, we went to Montini Catholic high school to raise awareness about Easter Seals. Over the years, we have found that having a recipient of our services provided speak and share their story is effective. Along with being an intern, I am a client so they asked me to go. Here is what I said:
During senior year of college, I was faced with a difficult decision. Do I go to Marquette University or Elmhurst College? Ultimately, I chose Elmhurst College. One of the many reasons that gave me confidence in my decision was that Easter Seals was fifteen minutes away. I have Cerebral Palsy and physical therapy is crucial to staying healthy. Let me explain my disability.
I have a form of Cerebral Palsy that is quite unique because my muscles are not super tight all the time. The actual cerebral palsy affects my balance and ability to talk. I have a lot of involuntary movement due to three movement disorders. I have a slight scoliosis on top of the constant movement and the cerebral palsy. As you can see, my need to be physically fit and have people watch everything going on with my body is great. I am a busy woman and I don’t have time to necessarily watch my body and worry about it. I was very involved in college, I was involved in a sorority, three honor societies, was active in Catholic campus ministry; I was a busy woman and still am.
Currently, I am interning at DuPage Easter Seals. This is an invaluable experience because not a lot of organizations would want to hire somebody with a disability. But Easter Seals doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. I have gotten hands-on experience. Its one thing to be in class, it’s another thing to work and gain experience.
I also am a professional speaker. I have spoken to doctors about how to treat patients with special needs, spoken to teachers and school staff about the challenges of high school; I’ve spoken to elementary schools about accepting people who are different. I speak to a variety of audiences.
Because of Easter Seals, I know my body is ready to go every day. I have two incredible physical therapists that have become like family to me. We work on physical therapy of course, but they know when I am having a bad day and they will make me talk about it. I am so grateful for both of them.
At this point, I want to stop lecturing at you and let’s have a lively question and answer session. You can ask me about anything, my disability, my equipment, my internship, or anything else, I am an open book.
The volunteer manager accompanied me and she explained how fun volunteering is. The students seemed to enjoy hearing from us. The best part was that three students had called our center by the end of the day wanting to volunteer. If you would like to volunteer, you can contact Cassandra Salinas at 630.261.6240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.