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  • July 28, 2014

Easter Seals Midwest: Smiles to Go Around - Ladue News: Charities & Non-Profits

Easter Seals Midwest: Smiles to Go Around

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Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:18 pm, Thu Jul 10, 2014.

Would you like some philanthropy with your Frappuccino? Soon, you'll find St. Louis-themed stationery at a few dozen area Starbucks locations to benefit Easter Seals Midwest. There's something unique about the photographs on the note cards: The images are a result of Easter Seals Midwest's Everyone Deserves a Shot project.

"Everyone Deserves a Shot is a photography project where we have employee volunteers from Starbucks who work with our clients—individuals with developmental disabilities—[to] take them out, show them how to use a camera, and let them explore and learn photography skills," says Easter Seals Midwest (formerly Life Skills Touch Point Autism Services) CEO Wendy Sullivan. "It's amazing how many of our clients really took to photography."

A group of Easter Seals Midwest clients and Starbucks employees were given a point-and-shoot camera; and, in honor of St. Louis' 250th birthday, the participants turned to Gateway City icons like the Arch and Ballpark Village for their subject matter. Some of the top photos were selected and printed on note cards; these will be sold in a pack of 10, each containing five different designs, for $10 at some local Starbucks locations throughout August.

"We help people with developmental disabilities learn, live, work and participate in our communities," Sullivan says. "We recognize that people with developmental disabilities have something to offer: as our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors. Our job is to help them learn to become as independent and self-sufficient as they can."

In addition to selling the cards, Starbucks is involved with Easter Seals Midwest through sponsorships and food and beverage donations, as well as active volunteer work from its employees. Recently, Starbucks employees improved an Easter Seals Midwest client's home through the Adopt-A-Home project. Additionally, the company hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Day. "Starbucks is about being involved in their communities, and that's what we want for people with developmental disabilities," explains Sullivan. "Our most important message is that we want people to be included in the community; it's two organizations that work together very well."

Sullivan says the project will continue in the future, noting that other Easter Seals Midwest clients would like to be involved, as well. "We have more clients who want to participate than we can even accommodate."

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