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May 14, 2014

Easter Seals says thanks with community party

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

AUBURN HILLS — Most of metro Detroit has been suffering from a major case of cabin fever waiting for spring to arrive. Now that it has, Easter Seals of Auburn Hills is celebrating with a big outdoor shindig.

The first-ever Seals on Wheels will be held June 7 at the Easter Seals facility on Walton Boulevard, just a ways down from Great Lakes Crossing. According to Easter Seals Campaign Coordinator Jennifer Cleary, the family-friendly event is the nonprofit’s way of saying thanks to all of the clients and community members that have been a part of their mission over the years.

“Everything is no cost,” she said. “It’s a chance for families to come out and for businesses in Auburn Hills to come out and see what we provide and what we do. We’re their neighbors, and it’s nice to know what’s going on in your community.”

Guests will enjoy complimentary food, drinks and live entertainment. For the little ones, clowns will be on hand for face painting and balloon tricks. There will be a bounce house and a kids’ coloring contest with a chance to win a prize.

Adults can get in on the prizes, too, with chances to win door prizes and a huge raffle at the end of the day. Visitors can head to the Easter Seals website to buy a ticket for the $100,000 raffle that will be drawn during the event.

The big draw, however, will no doubt be the free classic car show. Cleary said that, unlike most car shows metro Detroit is used to seeing this time of year, this event will welcome cars to the Easter Seals parking lot with no entry fee or admission.

“We’re looking for between 30 and 40 cars, and it’s open to all types of cars,” she said. “We’re really going to have a good time and have a good day.”

For nearly 100 years, Easter Seals has been working to help those with mental or physical disabilities live better lives through medical rehabilitation, counseling and support services, employment and training, children’s services, and more. Cleary said that last year, alone, the organization aided more than 9,000 clients.

The group, with locations throughout Oakland and Macomb counties, is also home to the Miracle League of Michigan, as well as the AgrAbility project, which works with disabled farmers to get them the equipment and skills they need to keep their business alive.

Though Easter Seals does operate with the help of donations, Seals on Wheels won’t serve as a fundraiser for the organization. Instead, Cleary said, they’re looking to celebrate the warm weather and spread the word about what Easter Seals has to offer for so many.

“I think people don’t realize the services we have. We help people with disabilities, but you can’t see every disability,” she said. “Most of our (clients) are mental health patients, which is a disability you can’t see.”

She went on to explain that some of the most popular programs Easter Seals has to offer treat behavioral health issues, substance abuse problems, counseling and support needs, and even autism in children through early intervention.

Easter Seals Director of Stewardship and Corporate Relations Julia Kline knows a lot about working directly with patients who need mental health treatment. She started working with the organization in 2004 as a case manager for adult services at the Easter Seals’ Southfield location. She then went on to work in the therapy department as a behavioral health clinician.

“There’s nothing like it,” she said of her social work. “It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Being able to see the progress in people and for them to see how much they’ve benefitted from the services is incredible. To watch people in the deepest bouts of depression go on to successfully earn a college degree is amazing.”

Seals on Wheels will be held 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at the Easter Seals of Auburn Hills location at 2399 E. Walton Blvd.

To learn more about Easter Seals, the event or to register  a classic car in the show, visit www.EasterSeals.com or call Jennifer Cleary at (248) 475-6412.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.