Expanding Easter Seals critical autism, early intervention, inclusive child care and employment services nationwide to support thousands of families.
Today, executives from Safeway (NYSE: SWY), Easter Seals and Special Olympics launched the grocery retailer's annual fundraising campaign for people with disabilities in San Francisco. The three organizations challenged employers to remember economic recovery should include all segments of the population, including people with autism and other disabilities.
"Now more than ever, employers need to tap into an extraordinary resource, people with disabilities who are ready and willing to work," says Larree Renda, Safeway Executive Vice President and Chair of the Safeway Foundation. "Along with a paycheck, gainful employment affords people with disabilities a priceless measure of self worth and independence."
Each April, Safeway stores raise funds to help children and adults with autism and other disabilities by asking shoppers to donate to Easter Seals, the largest non-profit provider of autism and disability services, and Special Olympics at checkout. The annual campaign coincides with April's Autism Awareness Month and Easter Seals' Act for Autism® efforts to raise awareness about the services and treatments the organization provides to families living with autism.
Last year, Safeway surpassed the $100 million mark for lifetime contributions to Easter Seals, all made since the two organizations' partnership began in 1986. In April 2009 alone, Safeway--and its thousands of employees and customers raised nearly $9 million for Easter Seals services.
What Safeway Means to Families Living with Autism
"Safeway's commitment to Easter Seals and the millions of families we serve runs far beyond the annual fundraising campaign - it's business," says James E. Williams, Jr., president and chief executive officer, Easter Seals. "Today, the company employs nearly 10,000 adults with autism and other disabilities, giving many a career and a means to live independently."
This year, funds raised will support a variety of Easter Seals services across the country for families living with autism including:
Expansion of Easter Seals early intervention services. When it comes to autism, getting the right help at the earliest life stage makes all the difference. Known as early intervention, this critical type of service gives babies and toddlers with autism the skills they need to be successful.
Support for the organization's Child Development Centers. Easter Seals understands that parents who have children with autism experience far greater levels of stress than parents of typically developing children. Knowing your young child with autism is well-cared for in an inclusive child care setting, receiving appropriate therapy and instruction, gives working parents not only peace of mind, but the ability to continue working even after an autism diagnosis.
Growth of its autism transition programs. Transitions, whether large or small, are particularly challenging for many families living with autism. Whether entering school, becoming a teenager, seeking employment or simply taking a family vacation, people with autism often struggle through these types of changes and require personalized supports and services to help get them through.
Addition of employment, assistive technology and social skills services. Finding a job is a critical first step toward self-determination and financial independence for adults with autism. Easter Seals professionals help people with autism assess their skills, identify employment goals and provide specific training. The organization also works with employers, like Safeway, to provide resources to businesses to support workforce development.
Development of family supports and autism training programs for parents and siblings of individuals with autism. Families living with autism are desperate to find help, hope and answers. The fact is, an autism diagnosis affects the entire family. Easter Seals offers several programs that provide support to every family member, giving them the resources they need to best care for their loved one with autism.
"Safeway's in-store cause campaign in April is literally changing the lives of thousands of children and adults living with autism and other disabilities," adds Williams.
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