For most, having visitors drop in unannounced to their workplace would be an imposition. But for Hayley Coble, director of marketing and development with Easter Seals West Kentucky, it’s her favorite part of the job.
“I love when people come in and ask for tours,” she says. “I get to show everybody what we do and what we’re passionate about. It’s one thing, hearing about us, but it’s something completely different to see our work in action.”
That work is providing exceptional services, education, outreach and advocacy so people living with autism and other disabilities can live, learn, work and play in the community. The Easter Seals serves all age groups, beginning at six weeks old.
For children, Easter Seals offers a number of services, including their Child Development Center and The Lily Pad. Through the Child Development Center, Inclusive Child Care is provided to typically developing, special needs and medically fragile children ages six weeks to twelve years. The Lily Pad is designed to give medically fragile children quality medical care in the least restrictive environment possible, allowing parents and caretakers to work or go to school during the day.
“There are also kids we serve who go to school during the day but come to our before- and after-school care,” says Hayley. “In addition to that, we’re working on a new summer teen program. Once summer starts, we lose valuable time developing skills that these kids need to learn. The last thing we want is for kids to lose the progress they’ve gained during the school year.”
Easter Seals West Kentucky also provides a number of services for its adult patrons. Easter Seals Adult Daycare or Training Services offers socialization, care, and support that helps the health and well-being of adults with disabilities. Adult patrons enjoy fun daily activities and exercise, games, and field trips, among other services.
“For people who participate in Adult Day Training, we teach life skills like money management,” Hayley says. “We also offer a cooking class, which a lot of people we work with really enjoy. We cooked pizzas for pi day, and sometimes we’ll have individuals who teach the class how to cook dishes that are really important to them.”
One of the programs Hayley loves the most is the art program. Since Paducah has a large number of artists in the community, the art program gives adult clients the chance to work closely with art instructors and Paducah’s Lowertown artists on collaborative pieces. The art program has grown in the eleven years since its inception—in 2014, the Easter Seals added clay and pottery to its curriculum, and in 2016 expanded to include the children attending the Child Development Center.
“Our art program provides an outlet for individuals to express themselves,” Hayley says. “Some people we work with, some people with autism or anxiety disorders, might have trouble communicating verbally, so these art classes are a fantastic way to let them express their feelings and emotions in a way they might not have ever gotten to before.”
While a board of directors and staff members oversee Easter Seals, they also rely on a number of volunteers. Hayley says there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, depending on the interests of those who wish to do so.
“We have opportunities from rocking kids to sleep to landscaping. Whatever your passion is, we can find a way to use your services.”
Along with the daily volunteering for Easter Seals, the organization also recruits for Barbecue on the River—which had over two hundred volunteers last year—and the HeArt and Soul Art Celebration and Auction. The auction features works of art created by Easter Seals patrons. This year, the HeArt and Soul Art Celebration and Auction will be held on June 1st from 6-9 PM at Walker Hall.
“It’s a great event and we always have a lot of fun with it,” Hayley says. “The pieces being auctioned off are ones that individuals have worked on all year round with the art program. It’s priceless to see the looks on their faces when they see the prices going up and knowing how much their art is worth.”
For more information on Easter Seals West Kentucky or volunteering, contact Hayley Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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