Around the Diocese: December 25, 2016
High school students partner to support disabled
The Bishop Luers High School, Fort Wayne, chapter of the National Honor Society has partnered with Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana in a relationship that is giving both groups opportunities to grow and have fun together.
NHS recognizes outstanding high school students based upon their scholarship, leadership, service and character. Once accepted into NHS, members must not only maintain a certain grade point average, but also perform service projects. This school year, Luers NHS members overwhelmingly decided to focus on Easter Seals Arc for the service component, but the partnership has turned into a something much more fruitful than merely fulfilling a requirement.
Easter Seals Arc works with the local disabled population in a variety of ways. It offers assistance with employment, recreation and education; in addition, there are eight group homes and a respite house for care during the day only. There is also a supported-living branch of Easter Seals Arc, in which employees visit client homes. In total, the agency serves about 630 clients.
Luers NHS members are primarily helping with recreation services. These include bowling, basketball, shuffleboard and ballroom dance. A special upcoming event is the Christmas dance for Easter Seals Arc clients. At the dance, students will help serve food, socialize with clients and give out gifts that were donated by various area organizations.
Becky Allegrini, NHS moderator at the high school, said the partnership is helping students step outside of their comfort zone. “I think anytime you can expand horizons, it is beneficial.” NHS board member and Luers senior Abby Ulman said they are able to “directly interact with the people they are helping,” and that has led to positive feedback from NHS members. Ulman also said members don’t feel like it’s something they have to do, but that they are having fun.
Allison Diefenbach is the special events and volunteer coordinator for Easter Seals Arc. She agreed that the partnership with Bishop Luers is going well, and that the activities help clients get into the community and meet new people. It also helps them recognize that their disability does not control what they do, which in turn helps them grow.
Bishop Luers is currently the only Fort Wayne-area high school partnering with Easter Seals Arc. According to Diefenbach, the agency is always looking for extra hands to spend time with clients, and volunteer opportunities can be based upon one’s interests, hobbies and time available. For more information, visit www.EasterSeals.com/NEIndiana. To volunteer, contact Diefenbach at 260-456-4534, ext. 236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.