Who We Are
Easter Seals Iowa
Our Mission and Vision
Easter Seals Iowa provides exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.
We believe in a future where it's possible for all people to live, learn, work and play together.
We believe in a future where all people should and can be contributing members of our community.
We believe that persons with disabilities are part of our Iowa community and should be aware of and utilizing community resources and services.
We believe in a future where families and friends who support individuals with disabilities have the support, information and resources they need to achieve the same quality of life as those without disabilities.
We believe in a future where children with and without disabilities play together, hand-in-hand, without regard to their differences; instead, enjoying each other as playmates.
History and Background
In 1919 the Ohio Society for Crippled Children was founded by Edger Allen. The organization was created to provide services for children. In 1921 National Easter Seal Society was established.
In Iowa, on December 12, 1926, a “professional advisory committee” met to plan the first annual meeting for the Iowa Society for Crippled Children. This meeting marked the birth of the Iowa society, since the first Board of Trustees was elected and a program formulated to meet the needs of disabled Iowans.
A few weeks later the Iowa society for Crippled Children convened its first annual meeting. The new Society’s objective was to locate every person with disabilities in Iowa, which would enable the group to learn the size of the challenges they faced and the essentials for its solution. It is clear that these concerned Iowans had little idea of the magnitude of the effort they were undertaking. Included in the program was a public education effort, because before the public would support such a cause they had to understand it.
In spring of 1939 the Iowa Society held its first “Seal Sale” with Dr. Walter S Bierring, head of the Iowa State Health Department and then a national figure in the public health field serving as one of the advisors to the campaign.
In the winter of 1942, the Society was working with the real and anticipated problems of servicemen returning home, the first recorded discussion on training persons with disabilities, but centering on the needs of servicemen with disabilities. Through the difficult war and postwar years, the Iowa Society made many significant gains. Fundraising become more effective as Seal Sales multiplied and later gave way to an organized Easter Seal mail campaign. Most of the preparation and mailing of the Easter Seals was done by persons with disabilities in their homes as a form of employment. Through the efforts of the Society, legislation providing Special Education and Vocational Rehabilitation was passed.
During the '50s, discussions had taken place about the building of a residential, recreational camp for Iowans with disabilities. A fundraising campaign began which changed the dreams of many into a reality. Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Yarn, living south of Ankeny, donated 10 acres of their woodland as a site for the new facility (now known as Camp Sunnyside).
During 1968, one of the nation’s most unusual and successful fundraising events, the Pony Express Ride began. A small group of horsemen in northwest Iowa collected money for charities, one of which was Easter Seals. Over $10,000 was collected in a six county area that first year. In 1969, expanding their efforts to cover the entire state of Iowa, the Pony Express Riders of Iowa conducted fundraising efforts solely for Camp Sunnyside.
New programs continued to evolve in the ‘80s as the need for services continued. Camp Sunnyside continued to be a place of support with the new summer day camp program starting, integrating campers with and without disabilities.
Throughout the early ‘90s renovations took place at the Easter Seals Iowa Center and renovations were also completed on Easter Seals Iowa Camp Sunnyside cabins. A capital campaign was conducted. The campaign concluded in June 2000 and resulted in the building of the Retreat Center and Variety Club Activity Center. In addition, the capital campaign provided funds for pool renovations and a playground.
The impact on lives that Easter Seals Iowa shares came full circle when siblings Agnes and Harold VerHeul bequeathed their entire estate to Easter Seals Iowa - $2.5 million. With this gift, the Easter Seals Iowa Foundation was established in July 2006. The Foundation was created to provide endowment and operating support to the organization and provide for long-term sustainability.
Today thousands of children and adults with disabilities and their families receive assistance from Easter Seals Iowa. The services and programs are available because of the dedicated individuals who worked so hard in years past to make Easter Seals what it is today. As time passes, the agency will continue to make changes to meet the needs of children and adults with disabilities but its determination to serve Iowans with disabilities will never change.
The Easter Seals Iowa Center, located in central Des Moines, is the home base for all vocational, employment and case management services.
The State Offices are located at Camp Sunnyside on the north side of Des Moines. In addition to camping and respite services, Camp Sunnyside houses Rural Solutions, the Equipment Loan program, Assistive Technology Center, Life Club, and the Bob & Billie Ray Child Development Center.
Board of Directors
Easter Seals Iowa is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, who guide the agency to fulfill its mission.
Foundation Board of Directors
The Foundation was created to provide endowment and operating support to the organization and provide for long term sustainability.
|Connections Newsletter ~ Summer 2013|
|Connections Newsletter ~ Spring 2013|
|Connections Newsletter ~ Spring 2012|
|Connections Newsletter ~ Summer 2012|
|Connections Newsletter ~ Fall 2012|
|Annual Report ~ 2012|
During fiscal year 2011-2012, it was our privilege to serve 3,014 clients.
|Program||Number of Clients|
|Achieving Independent Methods (AIM)||117|
|Bob & Billie Ray Child Development Center||80|
|Consumers Socially Integrated (CSI)||25|
|Hourly Supported Community Living||155|
|24-Hour Supported Community Living||26|
CARF (The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) is an accreditation organization that provides a framework for continuous quality improvement. Easter Seals Iowa is accredited for Life Club, Consumers Socially Integrated (CSI), Service Coordination, Case Management, Hourly Supported Community Living, 24 Hour Supported Community Living and EmployAbility. Easter Seals has received a 3-year accreditation, the highest level possible.
Easter Seals Camp Sunnyside is accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA). All programs are available to individuals without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. We work to provide a quality camping experience and are proud of our ACA Accreditation.
Return to Services home page.