Category Archives: General info

Q & A For Women’s International Day

We recently asked Easterseals staff, volunteers and family about their experience with the pandemic and their thoughts on how it has affected women in particular.

Name: Jeanine Johnson
Administrative Assistant, Easterseals of SEPA Philadelphia Division
Autumn Williams (Easterseals Nurse)
Pets: Dog –
Aurora, Cats – Me-Mo and Fieval, Turtle – Ursula

In what ways do you think the pandemic has been harder on women?

While family dynamics have evolved, the truth of the matter is that women still carry the bulk of the parenting responsibilities.  The pandemic in a lot of ways has amplified this.  The juggling of family and work has always been a fine balance, add to that, a scenario where there is no separation from the two and increased responsibilities of monitoring homeschooling.

What is your favorite Pandemic TV Binge?

I caught up on “This Is Us” and made my husband binge watch the complete 12 seasons of “Bones” with me.

What is the best part of working from home? What is the worst part of working from home?

The best part of working from home is the time you save not commuting.  My daily commute is 1 ½ hours each way every day.  The absolute worst part is not having the face to face interaction with the children and my co-workers!

What have you learned about yourself because of the pandemic?

I have learned that although I like my solitude, I am not a solitary person.  More than ever, I treasure my connections.  We always stress steady routines for our children.  I’ve learned that the same is kind of important for adults too!

Name: Linda McDevitt

Career/Job Title: Owner Tax Advisors, LLC.  I am a tax and financial planner, Easterseals Board Member
Children: 2 sons, ages 19 and 16
Pets:  none

In what ways do you think the pandemic has been harder on women?

This pandemic has created even more pressure on women with families as not only does everything that used to get accomplished get completed, but there are added burdens of protecting the family and providing for the family during the pandemic.  My husband is a bit older than me and that meant that for the first 3 months of the pandemic, he did not go out of the house as we didn’t think it was safe.  In addition to doing anything that required being outside, I had to be sure the boys were doing their school work and logged into the school properly and that their assignments were submitted and accepted while trying to keep life as normal as possible for the family.  In our particular situation my firm, Tax Advisors, is the main source of income for our family.  While the workload was consistent so we did not have a financial concern, some of our employees could not continue to work as they had to be home to watch over their own children.  Tax season 2019 never seemed to end and just ran directly into tax season 2020.  It will continue to be a challenge to get all the tasks completed in a safe, efficient manner.  It is automatically expected that the woman would take on the schooling issues of the family. 

What advice would you give to your pre-pandemic self? 

Life was busy and hectic but we managed to make it work well pre-pandemic.  Being the leader and organizer of our family is something that I was good at and probably didn’t give myself enough credit for keeping it all together.

What is a silver lining of the pandemic/staying at home? 

My workload only increased with the pandemic so while actors and others had the benefit of being home with their families and catching up on movies and family time, I had to take on the work of 4 people to be sure my business remained efficient and productive.  There has been no down time for me so it is difficult to find a silver lining.  The glimmer of hope that I hold onto is that at some point in time we can meet with people again, see our families and friends and travel again.  Vacations will be even more appreciated going forward for sure.  We have an official office and a home office so I am so tired of the home office and look forward to using the official office again soon.  We were fortunate that other than the mail being an issue, we were well set up for work at home.

What is one new thing you did during 2020/stay at home? 

I enjoyed going to get gas in the car just to get out of the house!  In 20 years of marriage, I never got gas in my own car no less enjoyed the experience of just being in my car!

What is your favorite Pandemic TV Binge? 

 The Bradshaw Bunch

What strength did you discover about yourself that you didn’t know you had? 

I’m good at putting fear aside and doing what needs to be done for the sake of the family.  Also there is always more in the tank than one thinks there is.  When you think you have given your all, there is always more to give.

What does your work from home situation look like?

We are fortunate that years ago we converted our 2 car garage to an office so I have a formal office to work from each day.  The hardest part was not kicking the kids off their school work or zoom meetings when I had zoom and teams meetings.  The problem with a home office is that work and home can blend.  I am cleaning out non-work items that found their way into the office. 

What is the best part of working from home? What is the worst part of working from home? 

The best part of working from home that there is more time in the day and family and work can blend together.  The worst part of working form home is nothing is ever complete.  It is groundhogs day every day.  Not enough work gets done, not enough chores get done, not any me time.  The drive home after a client meeting is often relaxing and down time.  There is no such thing as down time with this pandemic.  I do enjoy being able to have time with my son that is a sophomore in high school during the day.  It is nice that he can still do activities like baseball and swimming so at least our lives a little normal.  We are able to adjust our schedule as needed so working from home certainly provides that benefit.  Our son that is a freshman in college can call at his convenience and we can make it work rather than worrying about work time/home time.  The problem with working form home is that it does not turn off.  I got a text from a client this morning, Saturday morning at 6:45.  It was not a great way to start my weekend.  Unfortunately the pandemic has blurred the lines between work and homelife and some clients act as if I should be available 24/7.  I have to be careful not to get caught up in their schedule.  We provide great tax and financial planning but it is not life threating so there is no emergency that has to be resolved the moment they think of the issue.  It will be nice post pandemic when people have more regulated schedules and there is a separate of home and work time.

Name: Tameka Love

Career/Job Title: Accountant/Accounting/Administrative Manager

Children: 3 – Including Easterseals Amabassador Timmy

Pets: none

In what ways do you think the pandemic has been harder on women? 

Typically, as women we’re expected to be keep moving because someone is always relying on us in both our professional and personal lives. The pandemic has caused a strain on our work/life balance. As a working mom, I’m now at home balancing a full-time job while taking care of my two young children which includes being their mother, their teacher and their therapist. Plus, you know trying to find time for myself somewhere in between. 

What advice would you give to your pre-pandemic self?

Enjoy life and don’t take things for granted. 

What is a silver lining of the pandemic/staying at home?

Spending time with my family and being a part of my children’s educational development. 

What is one new thing you did during 2020/stay at home?

I’ve dedicated myself to working on my professional development by taking classes towards my Bachelors’ degree. 

What is your favorite Pandemic TV Binge? 

I’m not a big TV watcher but I will admit that I did indulge in Tiger King! 

What strength did you discover about yourself that you didn’t know you had? 

Multitasking. Who knew I could balance it all without missing a beat?

What does your work from home situation look like?

I have two workstations. I switch between the dining room table and the kitchen counter near the Keurig (I need my caffeine throughout the day). Wherever I am, my kiddos are right there next to me. Best coworkers I’ve ever had! 

What is the best part of working from home? What is the worst part of working from home? 

The best part is being present to watch my children learn new things. The worst part of working from home is that the kids don’t understand that Mommy can’t play all day.  

Name:  Dr. Kimberley Brown-Flint          

Career/Job Title: Director of Programs for Easterseals of Southeastern PA

Children: A daughter and a son

Pets:  3- Giant Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd/Husky mix and a fat grey cat.

In what ways do you think the pandemic has been harder on women?

Well, unfortunately we still have many people who feel a woman’s place is in the home.  I see mother’s home schooling, working from home and caring for elderly parents or infants.  This makes thing really hard for women.

What advice would you give to your pre-pandemic self?

Get in better shape. The covid 15 is real and I was lucky to kick it to the curb.

What is a silver lining of the pandemic/staying at home?

I got to spend a lot more time with my family. 

What is one new thing you did during 2020/stay at home?

I went to a mostly plant based diet and I can’t believe how much better my lab work is and how much better I feel

What is your favorite Pandemic TV Binge?  

The last Kingdom and anything Viking.

What strength did you discover about yourself that you didn’t know you had?  

The strength to stick to a plant-based diet and the ability to directly impact my health with the foods I put in my body.

What does your work from home situation look like?

I work wherever I can find quiet. 

What is the best part of working from home?

The best part of working from home is being able to wear my pajamas all morning and all the together time we have had as a family.

What is the worst part of working from home?  

We keep our house cold and find that I am cold all the time. 

Race, Equity and Anti-Bias Training Staff Perspective, Part 2

This past year, our country faced race and equity issues that require conversation and change at every level. In an effort to truly understand these issues and affect change, Easterseals has begun Race, Equity and Anti-Bias training, which will be provided to every staff member. The process will include conversations about race, equity and bias within Easterseals and the communities we serve. These conversations will help guide future trainings to address concerns and issues within our organization.

The training will occur in small groups to help ensure that staff feels comfortable to discuss their experiences and their concerns about these issues. The trainings are being facilitated by Andrea Lawful Sanders. You can learn more about her at

Ivy Lewis, Easterseals CFO, shared her experience through a Q & A session after her recent training.

Why do you think this type of training is important for Easterseals? 

I think this type of training is important for each and every human being. It is important that Easterseals begin and continue to conduct this type of training to open the lines of communication on the often avoided conversation of Race and Equity. Easterseals serves a diverse population and while there is some diversity among its staff, it is far from proportional with our clients. It is equally important for Easterseals to help its employees break down the barriers that exist due to implicit bias and dispel untruths that far too long been taken as fact. By providing Race, Equity and Anti-Bias training to employees, Easterseals will ultimately provide a greater service to many of our clients if staff truly understanding the disabilities they face often outweigh their medical diagnosis.      

How do you think working at Easterseals has impacted your view of equity and inclusion? 

My view has widened during my time at Easterseals in terms of equity and inclusion for differently-abled (instead of disabled) people. However, working at Easterseals has done nothing to change my view on Race and Equity. Easterseals is a microcosm of the nation as a whole. I am a black woman living in America for all of my life, more than half a century now. Whether within in the confines of an Easterseals building or not, what I experience as a black woman does not change. My blackness doesn’t go away if I don’t mention it or people claim they don’t to see color. However, I appreciate Easterseals for taking the first step in recognizing the enormity of this problem and providing staff with this training. Perhaps with this training staff will be inspired to learn the truth about the inequities that exist for people of color which began more than 400 years ago and surprisingly still exists today. If staff share this knowledge with those outside of Easterseals to affect change, working at Easterseals will have an impact on my view of equity and inclusion from Race, Equity and Anti-Bias perspective.    

What was the most valuable thing about this training from your perspective? 

The most valuable thing is that Easterseals thought it important enough to provide this training to every employee. Equally important is engaging the incomparable Ms. Andrea Lawful-Sanders to facilitate the discussion and provide tools to break down the barriers that separate different points of view as well as building blocks for a better understanding to bridge the divide.

What are your thoughts on how we can be more inclusive in our everyday lives? 

I think it’s simple, to be more inclusive in our everyday lives we just need to take these words to heart…  “I’m starting with the (wo)man in the mirror, I’m asking him (her) to change his (her) ways. And no message could’ve been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a CHANGE.”
Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson

Race, Equity and Anti-Bias Training Staff Perspective, Part 1

This past year, our country faced race and equity issues that require conversation and change at every level. In an effort to truly understand these issues and affect change, Easterseals has begun Race, Equity and Anti-Bias training, which will be provided to every staff member. The process will include conversations about race, equity and bias within Easterseals and the communities we serve. These conversations will help guide future trainings to address concerns and issues within our organization.

The training will occur in small groups to help ensure that staff feels comfortable to discuss their experiences and their concerns about these issues. The trainings are being facilitated by Andrea Lawful Sanders. You can learn more about her at

The following post is by Mildred DelValle Morales, a Speech Language Pathologist at our Early Intervention Center, in which she shares her perspective on the training.

I have been working for Easterseals of SEPA for 4 years now and have met a wonderful group of peers that address each day with passion. Many of them I can say are now my friends. Working every day in an intensive roller-coaster of emotions, adventures, challenges, celebrations and paperwork can be overwhelming if you take it on by yourself. Feeling part of a team was my first expectation when I started working at Easterseals and it has truly been a dream come true. I couldn’t serve the population we serve without such a supporting staff.

After 25 years in my profession as a Bilingual Speech and Language Pathologist, I can honestly share that I feel like a student. I learn from everyone around me including the kiddos we serve every day. As part of this agency, I am used to attending trainings but this year’s Anti Bias training really touched my heart. I guess we all expected the same type of training where you listen and ask questions, but this time it was different. I felt as if I was participating of a retreat where I had the chance to know about others true stories and how everything happening now in our community impacts what they do. Feelings can easily be dismissed by stating a word or simply describing it with a sentence but sharing your feelings and thoughts as part of a conversation where we all participate as equals, is refreshing. During the training I was able to transport myself to my childhood even when others were sharing their own experiences. I found myself feeling excited, happy, mad, emotional as I listen to my coworkers shout out the truth about what is true in their lives. I did hold back many times so that I could listen to others, because I grew and added to my experience of life as they shared theirs. I can’t wait to meet again and continue this journey building relationships, learning from each other and coming up with strategies that will allow us to see with new eyes.

Feeling thankful and excited at what is to come!

Milly and her husband, Dr. Jose R. Irizarry and their dog Ginger, participating in the virtual Walk With Me


A Q & A with Jennifer Lynn Robinson

To kick off the Easterseals’ virtual, free Quarterly Town Hall Series on Thursday, January 28, 2021 on Zoom, our special guest speaker Jennifer Lynn Robinson, Esq., CEO of Purposeful Networking, will help us explore how the small practice of gratitude can have big impact on your life and well-being. This engaging conversation with Ms. Robinson will provide action-items and takeaways that you can use in your daily life.

We spoke briefly with Jennifer about gratitude.

Easterseals: So, why do you think gratitude is important?

Jennifer: “Gratitude leads to greater happiness. It also helps with health benefits, building stronger relationships and dealing with adversity.”

Easterseals: Given the events of the last year, why is gratitude even more important right now?

Jennifer: “We are almost a year into this. Obviously we are dealing with large issues such as COVID and a racial reckoning in our country. But there are also the smaller but no less important things. We are mourning seeing friends & family, missing reunions, weddings, vacations–and even just the everyday normalcy of making small talk and seeing the people we interact with smile instead of behind a mask. Gratitude is even more important right now to combat those dips in our emotional and mental well-being. Additionally, by focusing on the positive we tend not to spiral and reach high anxiety levels about those things we cannot control.”

Easterseals: What is something small we can do right now to bring more gratitude into our day?

Jennifer: “Start a gratitude jar for the rest of 2021. Each day write down something you are grateful for or a highlight of your day. On New Year’s Eve read all of them! Some days it may be hard to find a silver lining but find something small. I remember one year at Thanksgiving we were going around the table asking everyone what they were thankful for and my youngest nephew said he was thankful for the color yellow. I still remember it years later.”

Want to learn more about gratitude? Register for our free, virtual Quarterly Town Hall Meeting today.

Jennifer Lynn Robinson, Esquire
Speaker| Moderator| Media Contributor |Emcee|Trainer
CEO Purposeful Networking
As seen: CBS, NBC, FOX, PHL17
Watch my TEDx talk:

Social Emotional Learning Elf

by Lisa Wzorek, OTD, OTR/L

This week I decided to do an experiment with our Elf on the Shelf.  Our son recently turned 10 but surprisingly (and gratefully on my part, I will add!) still believes in the magic of the Elf.  I won’t lie and say that the pandemic has been easy for us at home; our son is an only child and is participating in virtual learning, so his interaction with other kids his age is very limited. 

Like most families, we have good days and bad days with all of us at home together all day, every day.  Because I have such an interest in social emotional learning and adding that to my practice as an OT, I decided to experiment with the Elf as a partner in crime regarding helping my son’s outlook.  When he wakes in the morning, he will typically search for the Elf in the house.  Along with a surprise location of the Elf, I started leaving positive notes “written” by the Elf.  The notes always praise something good that he did the day before.  For example, Friday he cleaned his schoolwork area without being asked to, so on Saturday he woke up to a note that read, “You cleaned your school area without being asked! That is being a good helper!  Your Elf.”  Another note read, “Awesome job reading yesterday!”  Now, I know I did not invent this idea of a positive note-leaving Elf; I’m sure many other parents have thought about this as well!  Sometimes it is hard for us to think of the good things we are doing, but it certainly feels good when it is pointed out to us. 

Activities like this help us to keep focused on the positive things we are doing.  And, how nice to start the day with a compliment! So, what is the verdict on the experiment? I can report, although it has only been a week, that my son starts the day with a big smile and has been doing some things around the house without me asking him.  I would say, so far, so good!

Holiday Mindfulness Activity Ideas

by Lisa Wzorek, OTD, OTR/L

It is officially holiday season, which although for many is a joyous time, it can also be a time of sadness and increased stress for others.  This year brings more of a challenge to celebrating the holidays while living with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Even though we have been living with the pandemic since March, and the related closures and recommendations for social distancing, it can be upsetting and unsettling to not be able to celebrate holidays the way we normally would.  And this can be harder to understand for our children.  Spending time with our immediate families on some mindfulness activities can help alleviate the stress we are feeling.  Doing a stroll around the internet, I found a variety of activities and resources that may satisfy this need to take some breathes, acknowledge how we all are feeling, and find the gratitude in what we do have in this time of pandemic.  One of my favorite mindfulness activities this time of year is taking an after-dark walk in the neighborhood to enjoy the lights and decorations that people have put up.  Bundle up, make some hot cocoa and grab flashlights for this activity with your family.  Wishing all a safe, healthy and peaceful holiday season!

Christmas-related Mindfulness Activities:

  1.  From the website Counselor Keri, follow the link for instructions and activities.  I like the breathing exercise called Breathe Like Santa, the listening activity called Shake the Bells, and make your own snow globe or a “snow” mindfulness jar.
  •  From the blog Education’s Voice, follow this link for activities and instructions.  I like the
    Christmas Advent Chain and the YouTube links to Christmas meditation music, which are listed below:

Hanukkah-related Mindfulness Activities:

  1.  From Stress Free Kids, follow this link for activities such as a Light the Menorah medication:
  •  On this webpage by Swami Mommi, this is a great article about teaching about diversity and a variety of mindful Hanukkah activities:
  •  This link has a free, printable Menorah coloring page:

  •  This link contains a simple craft activity, making a paper plate Menorah:

Kwanzaa-Related Mindfulness Activities:

  1.  If you celebrate Kwanzaa or would like to learn what Kwanzaa is about, check out this website that discusses the five traditions of Kwanzaa:

  •  Kwanzaa-related crafts and information at this website.  I like the Kwanzaa wreath using hand cut outs and the Kinara place mat. 
  •  Other link for Kwanzaa crafts and information.  I like the crafts using corn kernals and the African drum idea:

It feels good to do good

by Kristine DelMonte, Development Specialist
This week I am attending a virtual conference from my makeshift (and yet somehow more and more permanent) office in my dining room.
It is an annual conference for fundraising professionals hosted by Blackbaud, the platform Easterseals uses to manage donor data.
Initially, I wasn’t super excited to be glued to my computer for Zoom Keynotes and Zoom breakout sessions and Zoom networking (what even is that?). That PLUS my regular Zoom meetings seemed like maybe too much zooming.
Then, the people at Blackbaud scored Amy Poehler as a keynote speaker.
(If you don’t know Amy Poehler’s alter-ego Leslie Knope from the long-running TV show Parks & Rec, you *must* go right now and binge-watch it on Netflix. It is a definite pandemic pick-me-up.)
#BBCON, you had me at Amy Poehler.
Leslie Knope is known for her commemorative scrapbooks and detailed event binders, her dedication to her job, and her enthusiastic encouragement of absolutely everyone to be their very best. She is the ultimate development professional: nothing gets her down, she can always find a way to work around a “no,” and she has never-ending energy.
(I kind of love Leslie Knope.)
But it was the actress, not the character giving the keynote, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Turns out, Amy Poehler is her own brand of Leslie Knope, having recently started “Amy’s Smart Girls,” a nonprofit “dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves.”
She was amazing.

She talked about the physicality of doing her voice work as the character “Joy” in Disney Pixar’s Inside Out. She talked about the world right now, about finding happiness in uncertainty, and about philanthropy.
Two things she said stuck out to me.
First, she said “Do work you are proud of with your talented friends.”
CHECK. I am proud of the work we do at Easterseals. It’s SO hard right now because of COVID pivots and uncertainty, but I know that what we are doing makes a difference in the lives of the kids and families we serve. And boy do we have some amazing talent. From our teachers and assistants to our PT/OT/Speech and Music therapists to our Assistive Tech Department and even accounting, we have staff that work here because they love it, and it shows.
Then, when talking about philanthropic giving, she said “Giving is self-care.”
It feels good to do good.
Leslie Knope couldn’t have said it better herself.  
As we approach the season of giving, I don’t want our donors to “give till it hurts.”
I want to help our donors learn more about what we do, about how we serve people with disabilities, and how we continue to serve families through COVID. I want donors to get Leslie Knope-level excited about our mission. I want them to understand why their gifts are so critical (especially now), and to see the absolute joy on a child’s face when they achieve a goal… a goal made real in part because of our donors’ gifts. 
I want our donors to give until it feels good.
I’d even be willing to make a scrapbook to commemorate the occasion.

Mindfulness Activities for All!

by Lisa S. Wzorek, MA, OTR/L

I wanted to share a few activities that can be done to help our children (and ourselves) practice mindfulness, based on last week’s post.  One activity is a tried and true one in my family, and the other is a new one that we tried over this past week.

One thing that I loved doing as a shy and introverted kid to be calm and away from my loud family was building a fort.  It was usually a small, dark space but it was my own space and a great getaway.  Lots of people and classrooms these days use tents as a “calm corner” for our children to have a place to be calm.  When my son was younger, I discovered a fun and easy way to make a tent without the need to purchase another item:  simply putting a sheet over our table!  Then we would pile blankets, pillows and stuffed animals inside.  Calm and relaxing!  The one we made in the picture below is using a lighter sheet.  You can make use a dark sheet or blanket to make the space darker.  You can also put your child’s favorite toys, books, light up toys and wands, and flashlights.

Screen Shot 2020-05-28 at 11.18.51 AM

Another activity is making a Mindfulness Jar.  You can google this and find different names for it, such as Calming Jar, Meditation Jar, Time-Out Jar, etc.  I found two simple recipes that work really well and, if you are a crafter, you may already have all of the ingredients at home.

Screen Shot 2020-05-28 at 11.19.13 AM


For the calming jar, you can use an empty plastic bottle or a glass jar.  If you have a child that tends to throw objects, the plastic bottle may be your best option.  You can use white glue if that is what you have, too.  This activity is, in itself, very calming!  Fill your container about 1/3 of the way with glue, add about 2 tablespoons of glitter (or however much you want!), then fill the rest of the way with warm water from the tap.  At this time, you can add 1-2 drops of food coloring into the mix if you like.  Cap it and shake it up until all of the ingredients are mixed together.  Here are some of our finished products:

You may be wondering…what do you do with the jars and how do they work?  Sit with the jars when you need a calm moment and give them a good shake.  Set the jar down and watch the glitter swirl.  Focus on the movement of the glitter and take some nice, deep breaths.  Focusing and breathing helps to calm our brains and our bodies.  Do this until the glitter settles down; then do it again, if you like!  When you do this with your child, describe what is happening in the jar.  This will help them to focus just on the movement of the glitter and to be mindful.

The act of “doing” with both of these activities has both strengthening and healing components.  We’ve already pointed out the aspect of mindfulness and calming.  But making our tent and our jars also taps into problem-solving, motor planning, visual motor skills, visual perceptual skills and fine motor skills.   Maybe even some math if you are able to work on measuring with your child.  If your child cannot participate in building the tent or making the jars, talk out the steps you are doing and bring them into the activity in this way.  Talk about the colors you are using, the textures (sticky, wet, warm, messy) and help them to experience it, too.  Maybe you can try different positioning with your child inside the tent to read books together and play flashlight tag.  Hope you enjoy these mindful activities!

A therapeutic gift from a friend!

by Kathryn Murphy, MSPT

My name is Kathryn and I am a Physical Therapist at Bucks. With all of the virtual services going on now, I do not have all of the tools at my home that I need for my sessions. I had a friend of mine, Mike, come to my rescue. I met Mike a few years ago at the indoor rock climbing gym where I climb. He recently purchased 3-D printer. He printed me a red shaker and even did a non-contact drop off!

This shaker filled with rice will help me:

  • Get the visual attention of my students with decreased vision.
  • As a teaching aide for parents. I can now show them exactly where to place a toy with their child when working on gross motor skills. I use a doll to help teach parents and now I have a toy!
  • Get the attention of the student using their hearing.
  • Cheer for my students in a fun way when they do something great!
  • Participate in music class with Ms. Amanda 😉