I have deeply tangled roots that spread from the Midwest all the way to the Hawaii. My family is here in the Midwest and for now it's where I need to be, but a big part of my heart and soul is rooted deeply in the Hawaiian volcanic soil. I look forward to my return each and every day.
When I lived in Hawaii, I had the honor of working for the Easter Seal Society. It was a position I fell into, but one that forever changed my life. I part of a team whose mission was to care for, teach, and advocate on the behalf of a group of adults with severe developmental disabilities. When we would go out into the community - away from the security of our day center - some people stared, some people looked away as if these adults didn't exist, and one or two told us we scolded us for bringing them out in public. Yes, really. No one smiled or said hello. What happened to the aloha I had come to believe in? Aloha resided in our hearts and with the amazing foster care givers who took these beautifully imperfect individuals into their homes as if they were family. I was fortunate enough to see the hidden gifts that most of the public refused to see.
Money was extremely tight and so we did what we could to teach and provide stimulating experiences on less than a shoe string budget. With the birth of my first beautiful child my life was changing, and the position that I loved so much was coming to an end. The government was reducing the vital funding needed to sustain our adults services program and case management would be returned to the state. So with that dreaded news I moved back to Indiana to "regroup" and spend some time with family. I cried a lot over the days prior to my return to the mainland. I was draped in leis with laughter and tears, hugged a lot, and given presents for my family upon my return by my co-workers and caregivers who now seemed like my extended family. That is the aloha I know and miss, and this was one of those experiences that forever changed me.
Hawaii is a definitely a beautiful place and one could fall in love with its beauty alone, but I discovered a more meaningful beauty standing with these "differently abled" individuals. They faced more challenges in one day than I could possibly comprehend, yet they were happy in the moment.
Most of the money raised in donations that many of these organizations like Easter Seals rely heavily upon is earmarked for the children and for those with mild to moderate disabilities. This is simply because they have the most potential for growth and independence. The pieces pictured above are the beginning of a very meaningful project that I'm working on and I hope it's success will shadow everything I've done thus far. Initially I will be donating 25% of the profits to one of two organizations that serve adults with developmental disabilities. Specifically, I will be speaking with individuals within these organizations to ensure that the money raised will be put aside for the instructors to use for enjoyable and educational community experiences. These first pieces will be available in my etsy shop beginning tomorrow evening. As always, thank you for your support! I know couldn't do this without you! xoxo