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Did You Know? Learn how ESW impacts you.

A place where we share inspirational stories and promote awareness – Learn how Easter Seals Wisconsin impacts you, your family, friends, neighbors, and community!

When you enjoy maple syrup on your pancakes – think of us!

Did you know our Self-Employment Services program played a role in helping a maple syrup producer start his own business?

Due to two major work-related injuries, Perry Frahm was no longer able to work in competitive employment and was receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) when he was referred to Easter Seals Wisconsin Self-Employment Services (SES) in mid-2015. Perry’s goal was to be productive and self-sufficient again and to earn enough income that he would no longer need SSDI. Julie Jensen, SES Specialist, helped Perry research self-employment and conducted a self-employment feasibility analysis, followed by a business plan.

Perry’s home has a number of wooded acres on which the previous owner had tapped the trees to produce syrup. Because Perry grew up in a family that tapped maple trees in the woods on their farm and made maple syrup for friends and family as a hobby, Perry had knowledge of the process and the desire to build a successful business from it. Existing buildings on the property could be converted to a production facility and a small store to sell his syrup. And innovative high-tech equipment existed to help in the processing of the syrup that would make it possible for Perry, with some assistance from family and friends, to make the syrup, stay within disability limitations, and work towards independence.

While his first year in business had some weather-related drawbacks, he is very excited and enthusiastic about his progress and has plans to increase his yield by renting additional land with sugar maples and purchasing available sap from others. He also plans to branch out and add more maple products as well as other Wisconsin products for sale to his customers.

One change can make a world of difference! See one farmer’s story:

For Darrel Jones, the four-generational Auburndale dairy farm is his life. “It just kind of gets into your blood,” Jones explained about farming. Approximately 25 years ago, Darrel was involved in an ATV accident that paralyzed him from the chest down. Darrel and his wife, Kathy, have made quite a few changes since that time in order to successfully continue farming.

Darrel had connected with AgrAbility of Wisconsin to help him with additional modifications that he was considering. Since enrolling in AgrAbility, Jeff Kratochwill, Rural Rehabilitation Specialist for Easter Seals Wisconsin’s FARM Program, has visited the farm several times to help develop a plan so that Darrell can continue to farm. Initially, the work focused on mobility for Darrel so that he could access all areas of the farm. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) was helpful in supporting the changes and provided the funding for items such as a utility vehicle with hand control modifications. “The biggest thing to start was the Ranger,” said Jones. He is now able to easily access all areas of his farm, including the uneven terrain of the pasture.

AgrAbility also worked with Darrel to develop a way for him to do other tasks such as feeding his cattle and completing the fieldwork. Recently, AgrAbility was involved to help him access his tractors. For many years, he had pulled himself from his wheelchair to the tractor’s operating station using a rope that was hanging in the shop. This was difficult to do and was becoming problematic due to the strain on Darrel’s shoulders. Ultimately, the solution was a portable lift system that could be pulled behind the utility vehicle. This equipment was also supported by DVR. The lift consists of a self-contained hydraulic system that is powered by battery and was constructed by Life Essentials in Brookston, Indiana. Darrel can move the lift using a wireless control pendant, allowing him to independently enter and exit all of his equipment on the farm.

Darrel plans to continue farming long into the future. He is grateful to everyone who has helped with the farm over the years, “Without the changes, I wouldn’t still have the farm,” said Jones. Click here to see photos and videos of Darrel using the hydraulic system.

Did you know we offer Adult Camp Sessions?

Camp Wawbeek isn’t just for kids. We offer Adult Camp Sessions all year round — to adults all over Wisconsin! Camp Wawbeek divides its weekend and summer sessions by age, to provide engaging activities for the entire group and encourage social development. Camp Wawbeek offers three different sessions for adults: Adults Camp (18+), Older Adults Camp (40+), and Pioneer Camp (outdoor camping). 

For any questions you may have regarding our Adult Sessions, please contact our camp office via e-mail or by phone at 608-237-1979. To view the 2016-2017 Camp Wawbeek schedule, please visit our calendar. To find out how to register for camp, visit our registration page.

Did you know we help farmers with disabilities continue to farm?

See how our Rural Rehabilitation Specialists do so!

Our team of Rural Rehabilitation Specialists will meet on-site to conduct work assessments, determining work-site and equipment modifications that will help farmers with disabilities maintain their independence and continue farming. Created in 1989, the Easter Seals Wisconsin FARM Program helps farmers return to farming after a disabling accident or illness. Since its inception, the FARM Program, with a better than 97% success rate, has helped thousands of farmers with disabilities continue in agriculture, enjoying independence and supporting themselves and their families. The FARM Program proudly serves as a model for similar programs nationwide.

If you would like to receive more information about our FARM Program or know someone who may be interested click here for more details. We’d love to talk with you!

Did you know we help to keep thousands of tons of waste out of landfills each year?

See how your donations can help! Volumes annually kept from landfills: 2,055 tons of cloth – 1,382 tons of miscellaneous items – 52,000 pieces of furniture and other larger items

Easter Seals Wisconsin continues to be an innovator in the nonprofit sector looking for sustainable and diversified funding for its programs and services. Easter Seals Wisconsin Donation Center, a unique mission-based venture, is a vital funding source for the organization’s work through the collection of gently used, re-saleable clothing, small household items and small furniture, which are then sold to Savers thrift stores. The proceeds generated from our collections throughout the state, go directly to growing and strengthening Easter Seals Wisconsin’s programs for individuals with disabilities and their families in Wisconsin.

The Donation Center (1-877-208-5109) is open Monday-Friday from 7am- 7pm and on Saturday from 9am-4pm to schedule pickups or provide any donor assistance that is required. We are closed on Sundays.

Did you know AmeriCorps connects over 70,000 Americans each year? We play a role in that too!

See how Camp Wawbeek impacted an AmeriCorps member last summer!


“Easter Seals Wisconsin Camps is so hard to describe to other people, for what we do here is not so easily put into words. All outsiders know about my summers is that I work a lot of hours and do ‘campy things’. As someone once said about camp, “From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, and from the inside looking out you can’t explain it”. That’s part of why when people ask me why I keep coming back, I don’t know what to say at first. Three years ago, when I applied to the AmeriCorps program at ESW Camps, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea how it would change my life, that it would change me. And yet, at the end of my third summer I find myself amazed at how much I’ve learned since the beginning of that first summer.

When I first got to camp I was nervous and terrified – I had never done anything like this before. I had no idea what to expect. Now, three summers later, I leave amazed and proud. The experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met have had a huge impact on how I approach and view the world now. So many of the things I’ve seen at camp can only be experienced at ESW Camps. A great example of this was seeing one of our campers shoot a basketball standing up and using his walker for the first time in a very long time. Or something as simple as being able to provide an accessible shower for someone who is unable to get into their bathtub at home. Not everything we do seems monumental to outsiders, but the help we provide may mean everything to those that we serve. And that’s the reason I keep coming back to ESW Camps. If I have the chance to be a part of something so meaningful and the ability to make someone else’s life a little easier, even if only for a week, I’m going to take every chance I get.”

-Dani Polewko | senior at Cornell College studying art education

Did you know we play a role in farm-to-table?

See how ESW’s FARM program impacted Good Earth Farms:

Michael Hansen, who owns and operates a farm in central Wisconsin where he raises organic meats, has Degenerative Disc Disease and Spinal Stenosis. The conditions, which worsened significantly in 2006, cause severe back pain and have made many of the everyday tasks his operation requires difficult, painful or impossible to do. Doctors gave him a 25 pound lifting restriction and he cannot stand or sit in one place for any appreciable length of time or sustain jarring (as would be experienced on a tractor).“It took me a long time to admit and accept that I have a disability,” Michael says. “Everyday chores were becoming a real problem.”

Michael was determined to stay in farming if at all possible, and after hearing about the Easter Seals FARM Program through the Marshfield Farm Medicine Center, he contacted the agency to see if they could offer any advice that might make his daily chores manageable.

Jeff Kratochwill, the Lead Rural Rehabilitation Specialist for the FARM Program, contacted Michael and together they walked through a day on the farm, analyzing each task. Michael prepares and ships organic meat to customers all over the country. When full, the boxes can weigh 70 pounds, greatly exceeding Michael’s 25 pound lifting restriction. Jeff recommended using smaller boxes, bringing the weight of each into the acceptable range and installing a hydraulic lift cart along with a conveyor system that would reduce the strain on Michael’s back even further.

The tractor Michael was using presented a number of difficulties. Not only was the amount of jarring Michael experienced when operating it significant, the small operator’s station and the clutching and shifting mechanisms added to the stress on his back. To address these concerns, Jeff suggested a different tractor. The recommended model had a swiveling seat with impact-absorbing suspension, making it possible for Michael to monitor equipment being pulled without twisting his body in a way that aggravated his back. The more easily reached shifting and clutching mechanisms further reduced the strain on Michael’s back.

Jeff also suggested an automatic hitching device so that Michael could hitch and unhitch his equipment without having to climb on and off the tractor and perform the bending and lifting involved in the task. Jeff also offered advice on doing some chores in a slightly different manner and for making some smaller modifications to equipment. After the recommendations were approved by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, modifications were made and equipment purchased.

“I’m still learning to use, make or adapt tools and technology so that I can get the work done,” says Michael. “Without the help and advice I got from the FARM Program, I wouldn’t be functioning at the level I am today. I’m very grateful to Easter Seals and the folks at DVR for helping me to stay on the farm and keeping my dream alive. ”