100 years of impact, celebrated with “Chocolate & Champagne”
An organization committed to impacting the lives of those with disabilities can’t be around for 100 years without reason for celebration.
That’s why Easterseals will be ringing in a century of dedication to the health and wellness of those who can’t always take care of themselves with a huge party of decadence – Chocolate & Champagne – celebrating “Cheers to 100 Years” from 7 until 10 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at DiamondJacks Grand Ballroom.
“As Easterseals celebrates 100 years of impact, we’re committing to a future where every one of us is 100 percent included and 100 percent empowered,” said Bernie Bitting, Easterseals development director. “In 2019, Easterseals celebrates 100 years of impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities or other special needs, their families and communities through America as a powerful advocate and innovative provider of services. We honor this legacy as we embrace our future with a renewed commitment to enhance possibilities for people of all ages and abilities.”
Statewide, Easterseals of Louisiana served almost 10,000 families in 2018.
While nationally, Easterseals is 100, statewide, it opened in 1951, and locally, the organization is a mere 66 years old, having been the second office to open in the state.
Region 7, where the Shreveport office is located, covers Caddo, Bossier, Webster, Claiborne, DeSoto, Red River, Bienville, Sabine and Natchitoches parishes. Bitting said, in 2018, Region 7 served more than 2,000 participants.
“Each of the regions does pretty much everything statewide,” Bitting said. “We all help with infants until the last phase.”
In fact, since its founding by Edgar Allen in 1919, Easterseals has remained committed to ensuring the needs of children and adults with disabilities, veterans and older adults are met with services and supports to help them live, learn, work and play in their communities.
Allen was an Ohiobusinessman who, in 1907, lost his son in a streetcar accident. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign that would eventually morph from a hospital to a national organization.
During the celebration to honor Easterseals’ 100th anniversary, the Lily Award will be presented to an outstanding citizen whose distinguished leadership and devoted service to the community has contributed significantly to the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities.
“We also look at this person as, have they been involved with Easterseals,” Bitting said. “Sid Potts is who we are honoring, and he has always been there for us with Easterseals since we started this event eight years ago. He’s been a very, very good friend to Easterseals.”
For 100 years, rotary clubs have worked with local Easterseals organizations as volunteers and event sponsors and by offering program support through direct grants and gifts.
Bitting said Potts’ position as a past president of a local Rotary chapter made him a good candidate for the Lily Award, which stands for L-Leadership, I-Integrity, L-Loyalty, Y-Yearning to help others.
“It’s a great compliment, and I am humbled by it, to be very honest with you,” Potts said. “Easterseals and Rotary are two of the best organizations in Shreveport to support and help along the way.”
Potts knows the importance of supporting local businesses. After spending 18 years as senior vice president of Lee Michaels in the public jewelry business, Potts established Sid Potts Inc., “A Private Jeweler and Diamond & Estate Broker,” in 1997.
“If you want people to stay in town, you need to support the things that make this town better,” Potts said. “It’s part of what makes a good corporate citizen … to give back to what makes our community better.”
Supporting Easterseals is important to Potts.
“They work with a lot of disabled children,” he said. “I look for charities that keep their benefits and money at home. They do well within this community. The people who make up the Easterseals in this town are good, hardworking people.”
Persons – or couples – who win the Lily Award have helped dreams come true for children or adults with disabilities, Bitting said. It is part of the criteria. Potts will be the fifth recipient, having been chosen by honorees.
Individual tickets are still available for the Chocolate & Champagne event. Information may be found on their website: www.easterseals.com/louisiana.