Sherwood’s Believing In Abilities
One woman’s commitment to her daughter paves a new path for an entire community.
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 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.
Sherwood’s Early Intervention Program (birth to three) offers Speech/Motor/Occupational/Behavior and Physical Therapies to infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities or a medical condition known to cause risk for delays. When you reach children in the first three years, while their brains are still developing, you achieve maximum impact, and many will reach their developmental milestones,” Morehouse says.
Sherwood understands children learn best in familiar settings, like home or daycare, so their team meets families where they are. They adapted quickly to COVID-19 concerns and have been providing remote teletherapy sessions since March 2020. “It’s critical that children do not fall behind in their development, so it was necessary to transition as quickly as possible. Families have been receptive,” he adds. Working with 11 school districts in Snohomish County, Sherwood is a preferred provider to prepare children for preschool and kindergarten.
The Vocational Services Program supports high school graduates and adults with disabilities seeking employment, connecting 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. Sherwood also works with businesses who are hiring to find employees with skill-sets matching their needs and supports them in on-the-job training and proper accessibility, if needed.
Adults with disabilities have been severely impacted by COVID-19. Sherwood’s placement rate, which was once 76%, has dropped to 14%. “We are working hard to ensure all our program members don’t feel isolated during this time.” While still supporting adults in essential positions, the team implemented virtual career discovery plans and video resumes for those seeking jobs, so as soon as it’s safe to return to work, they have the supports they need to find the perfect position to fit their skills and goals.
It’s really a defining moment when you see a smile 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.
For more info, visit sherwoodcs.org, or call 425-334-4071.