Our History

 

Easter Seals Southwest Florida began in 1946 as the Sarasota-Manatee Crippled Children’s Clinic, and was renamed Happiness House later that year. From borrowed space in an empty WWII army barracks, the organization served local children impacted by the polio epidemic then sweeping the country, providing medical rehabilitation and education, patient therapy and counseling, and support services for persons with disabilities.

In 1958 a group of local families pooled their resources and built the present facility on Braden Avenue, on the Manatee-Sarasota county border. The facility was opened as an outpatient medical rehabilitation facility and school, and offered its services to all children in the two-county area.

In 1984 Happiness House became an Easter Seals affiliate, and although it receives no funding from the national Easter Seals, this affiliation has enabled the organization to reduce administrative costs while gaining access to national Easter Seals’ resources and programs. Now celebrating 70 years of continuous service to the community, Easter Seals Southwest Florida serves Sarasota and Manatee Counties and more than 500 clients and their families annually.

Easter Seals Southwest Florida has been part of our community for 70 years. We offer the highest quality of care and services to children, youth and adults with special needs so that they can enjoy access, opportunities and increased life choices. Easter Seals Southwest Florida is committed to remaining a leader in special needs services – an organization to which individuals and their families can turn to for resources and support with a continuum of care throughout their lives.

Time-line:
November 12, 1946 – Manatee-Sarasota Crippled Children’s Clinic opens.
December 14, 1947 – Name changed to Happiness House Clinic and School.
August 1949 – Manatee and Sarasota Easter Seal Societies incorporate with identical constitutions and by-laws providing continued support for Happiness House.

October 11, 1958 – Braden Ave facilities open.
January 18, 1985 – Happiness House and Easter Seal Society merge.
July 20, 1997 – Project Rainbow merges with Easter Seal Society
November 14, 2001 – Name changed to Easter Seals Southwest Florida, Inc.

 Our Mission:

We provide exceptional services for persons  with disabilities and their families across a lifetime by empowering individuals to live their lives to the fullest.