Hazel Venables, her husband and seven other families believed they could pave a new path for their children. They were not going to be told that their daughter Leslie, and other children with disabilities couldn’t learn or had to be segregated from their communities. In 1957 they founded Sherwood and ever since then doors continue to open for children and adults with disabilities in Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties.
Today, the main philosophy at Sherwood is Believing In Abilities. “Sherwood strives to create an inclusive society where children and adults with disabilities have the ability to live full, independent lives as part of their communities,” explains Lance Morehouse, Sherwood CEO.
In addition to advocating for those with disabilities and their families, Sherwood provides Early Intervention Services, for infants through age 3, and Vocational Services, for adults, once they graduate from high school.
- The Early Intervention Program offers Speech/Motor/Occupational/Behavior and Physical Therapies to young children with developmental disabilities or who are diagnosed with a medical condition known to cause risk for delays. “When you reach infants or toddlers in those first three years, while their brains are still developing, you achieve maximum impact, and many will reach their developmental milestones,” Morehouse says.
Sherwood also understands children learn best in a comfortable, familiar setting, whether that’s the home, childcare or other community setting, so their multidisciplinary team, led by a family resource coordinator, comes to you. Working with 11 school districts in Snohomish County, Sherwood is the preferred provider to prepare children for preschool and kindergarten.
- The Vocational Services Program supports high school graduates and adults with disabilities who want to seek employment, and connects businesses with qualified candidates. Helping job-seekers with resumes, honing interview skills, and more, “we can work with them to find the perfect job,” Morehouse says.
At the same time, Sherwood also works with businesses who are hiring to find employees with skillsets matching their needs and supports them in on-the-job training and proper accessibility, if needed. “We want to make sure it’s a good fit for the individual and business, and help with anything that will allow that individual to be successful in that job,” Morehouse says, noting they work with clients with a wide range of abilities. “We work with anyone who comes to us and says, ‘I want to work,’” he says, pointing out that while the national unemployment rate is 80 percent for people with disabilities, “our clients have a 76 percent employment rate.”
The board of directors and staff at Sherwood are committed to creating an inclusive community where children and adults with disabilities become thriving and contributing members in their schools and neighborhoods.
“It’s really a defining moment when you see the smiles on a parent’s face when their child takes their first steps, or speaks their first words, or the excitement of the adults we work with when they get a job offer and get to go to work like their friends. It’s our mission to continually remove barriers that limit people with disabilities from living the happiest and most fulfilled life possible.”
Local communities are encouraged to start considering what being more inclusive looks like. Don’t think about what a child or an adult with a disability can’t do, consider all of the things they can do. “Believe in Abilities with us,” adds Morehouse.
For more information about Sherwood, the programs they offer, upcoming events and advocacy in Olympia, visit sherwoodcs.org or find them on Facebook. To find out how you can personally make a difference, give them a call at 425-334-4071.