September 29, 2023 


Dear Eggleston Community, 

As I’m sure you’ve heard, on October 1st, if Congress has not come to a funding agreement, the federal government will shut down. Federal employees and contractors deemed “non-essential” will be unable to report to work until Congress can chart a path forward. Because much of the work we do at Eggleston operates under federal contracts, a shutdown would have major implications for our organization.  
While a government shutdown is an outcome nobody at Eggleston wants, our team has nonetheless been monitoring the situation closely and preparing for this unfortunate eventuality. Our executive team has been working diligently to minimize the impact on the individuals with disabilities we employ and to share with Congress what those impacts would be. Hopefully our efforts will help prevent a shutdown or, if one is inevitable, to make it as short and painless as possible. 

Eggleston is prepared for whatever October 1st might bring. If a shutdown occurs, there’s no way for us to prevent all disruption to our daily lives, but we are ready to deploy safeguards to make sure Eggleston’s employees will not face any new financial hardship for the foreseeable future. 

We also recognize that employment is not just about financial security – friendship, routine, and even self-respect and identity are important benefits all people can receive through their jobs. Changes at work can therefore affect emotional wellness and mental health. So our ask of you is simple: whether you work for Eggleston or care about someone who does, please look out for each other. Pick up the phone and stay in touch. See a movie, grab a bite, or visit the Garden Center. Do everything you can to stay mentally and physically active and to retain a sense of normalcy. Be present and be patient. 
These times are uncertain, but Eggleston’s commitment to the individuals with disabilities we serve is not. We will continue to advocate for our community both at home in Hampton Roads and in Washington as well. As ever, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. I’ve always said my favorite part of this job is getting to chat with all the wonderful people in this community, and that’s still true today. Eggleston is here for you. 


Harrison Misewicz  



Meet Akilah!

Growing up, Akilah Cooper didn’t always have a lot of examples of strong women wanting and doing more, but she knew she didn’t like what was happening in the world and that she wanted to help make a positive change.  She started working towards her degree in Social Work at Norfolk State University in 2013 but had to put her education on hold in 2014 after the birth of her son.  She knew she still wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, so she joined Eggleston as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at the Portsmouth Laundry facility in 2016. At Eggleston, Akilah had the opportunity to see real people doing good things for individuals with disabilities and she saw strong women who weren’t afraid to strive for positions of authority where they could make an even larger impact. At Eggleston, she was inspired.  So, after the birth of her daughter in 2017, Akilah decided to go back to school and finish her degree.

By this time, Akilah had fallen in love with the operational work of commercial laundry and realized she was good at it.  She recognized that while operations are traditionally a man’s world, this field needs the nurturing nature of women. Akilah shared how her team is made up of individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as those with substance abuse and emotional needs, but she strives to work with each employee to help them reach their full potential and learn new life and career skills. So, while she continued to take on more responsibilities at Eggleston’s Portsmouth laundry facility, she transferred her credits to Strayer University and began to work on her associate degree in business. 

With the ongoing support of her team and her family Akilah has recently completed her associate degree in business. But she is not done yet.  She said she is only 9 courses away from completing her bachelor’s degree and then she has her sights set on a master’s degree.

When asked about her motivation for this degree, she talked about how she wanted to do this for herself to prove that she could do more; however, throughout the process she realized this experience influenced more than just her.  Her children watched her determination and work ethic as she kept studying even when she was tired, and it has encouraged them to work harder on their own schoolwork.  Her employees gave her encouragement and strength to keep going when life tried to get in the way. Akilah has also used this experience to encourage her team to strive for their own personal goals stating “Education is power.  Keep studying. Keep going. It’s worth it on the other side”.

Congratulations Akilah on your academic achievement and we hope you have a great time at your graduation on December 10th.

Eggleston’s Summer Internship Program Provides

Hands-on Career Exploration

Through the summer internship program, local high school and college students were able to work as paid interns directly supporting the individuals Eggleston serves. Internships at Eggleston give students the chance to expand their ideas regarding options for pursuing higher education or a career. Here are some testimonials about their experience this year:


Shaniya, 12th grade

Future Educational Field of Study: Robotics Engineering and Human Services

I have been working for Eggleston as a Direct Support Professional at one of the day programs during my school breaks and helped at the residential programs during the school year.  I just know that every day I come to work it’s going to be a great day whether we are playing games, doing crafts, or going on outings every day is different.  I try hard to connect personally with each of the individuals and get to know what they like.  It makes my day to help others have a great day and they always make me laugh.

This has been a great work experience for me and has taught me patience and essential life skills like managing my time and having responsibilities where others depend on me.  I hope to use some of the skills I learned at Eggleston in the future.  I plan to study robotics engineering to build prosthetics to help people. If I had to give advice to future interns and DSP’s, I would say “It might be scary at first, but you will have a great time.  Take your time and have fun.”


Zaire, 11th grade

Future Educational Field of Study: Military or Trade School to study Electronics and Engineering

I was looking for an internship that would allow me to help people and my family recommended I look at Eggleston.  What I didn’t expect was how much fun it would be.  I got to play games and pool with the individuals, help them with art and activities, and go out outings with them.  I also learned a lot of skills like using proper sanitization to keep everyone safe and healthy and how to work with different personalities.

My advice to future interns is “To have an open mind set and think positive. Everyone is really nice you just put your best foot forward.  It’s a great work environment.” 


Phillips, 12th grade

Future Educational Field of Study:  Psychology with a focus in Autism Therapy

This is my second summer interning with Eggleston, and I love it because it gives me real world experiences.  It’s not just a starter job, it has real career options.  I love bonding with the staff and the individuals, getting to know them and helping them live their lives to the fullest.

This experience had helped me to grow up, branch out, and not take things for granted. It has broadened my horizons, learned more about individuality, and prepared me for college and after college.  I would tell future interns and DSP’s to “Treat everyone on the same level. Their disability doesn’t define them. Take the time to really get to know them, not just on the surface. Don’t let your frustrations get to you.”


Lily, 12th grade

Future Educational Field of Study:  Undecided

I really enjoy getting to know and helping the staff and individuals, which is why I came back for a second summer.  This experience has helped me make connections and imparted priceless knowledge and real-world experiences. Making an impact to actively help others has helped me put aside my own ego. I leave work feeling fulfilled and happy with what I did.

My advice to future interns is “be flexible and don’t have expectations. Every day is different so just go with the flow.  Treat each person as an individual and watch how they grow and learn.


Isabella, a junior at James Madison University

During my college breaks, I come home and work as a Direct Support Professional.

My experience at Eggleston is something I feel very deeply about. I have been around for years now volunteering at events and working at various sites. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities provided here, and I am even more grateful for the people I get to work with. While I may be their staff, they are my family, my home, and my heart. They make the good days sweeter and the hard days easier. They have shown me unconditional love, and I try my hardest every day to make it known that I love and care for them just as much. The memories made here are some of the most valuable ones I have, and I am truly thankful for that; this summer especially has been one of the best. My group at Civitan gifted me a calendar planner to “Count down the days until I come home,” and it brought me to tears. I hope they know that I’ve already started the countdown for my return because I am just as sad to leave them, but also so excited for our future. And while this is supposed to be focused on me and my work, I would rather share about the people who are the root of Eggleston. I would like to thank all of the managers, mentors, and fellow DSPs that work so hard to make Eggleston a loving and inviting space; without the foundation provided by those frontline workers, Eggleston would not be as magical. You are appreciated more than you know. Thank you.


2020 findings report that of 18 million American citizens, about 7% have served as active military, naval, or air service personnel. Among that percentage, Hampton Roads has one of the largest military populations— with hundreds of servicemen and women transitioning back into civilian life every month. Donating to Virginia veterans can help guide them through the turbulent challenges faced during this change and ensure they receive proper care and support for years after their service.

Eggleston Warrior Bridge engages the employment and success of Veterans with disabilities in Hampton Roads. By connecting them to their desired career path, we support veterans’ efforts to become employed, self-sustained, and productive members of our community. But where do you come in? Let’s break down how you can amplify the cause.

Veteran on a wheelchair on a psychotherapy session

How To Donate To Veterans

When connected with the right organization, donating can be simple. The general process is as follows:

  • Do your research. Find charities that match your ideals to address veterans’ struggles and commit to one you want to support.
  • Confirm reputability. Investigate the charity’s achievements, programs, members, and resources to determine their trustworthiness.
  • Consider your options. Identify if you would like to donate money to the organization or time and skills as a volunteer (or both).
  • Make your donation. Whatever the amount, pledge your gift to make an impact!
  • Monitor your contributions. Whether money or property, keep a record of your charitable donations for taxes.

How Your Veterans Donation Helps

Donating to veterans is an excellent way to give back to those who protect our country. Your donation not only helps Virginia veterans but provides family support as well. Pledging as little as a dollar can be the difference they need to access care, comfort, therapy, and medical treatment in facilities around the world.

Veterans experience many life-changing scenarios during their duration in the military, which can affect their physical and mental health and their families. Many veterans return from service with a physical or intellectual disability, mental illness, or lack of assets that can lower their standard of living. By donating, you reduce their isolation and elevate their knowledge, skills, and hope.

Challenges Your Donation Tackles

By understanding some of the challenges Virginia veterans can face, we can work to build a better future. Here are just some of the problems that your donation can tackle:

1. Unemployment  

Many disabled veterans have immense trouble finding work once they return home. If they have joined the armed forces straight out of high school, they also lack the education to compete with other applicants. Though veteran unemployment rates have decreased this year, it is still at 2.5% as of 2023 reports, with veterans with a disability as high as 5.6%.

2. Homelessness

Among the U.S. homeless population, a staggering 13% are veterans. Many who suffer from mental illnesses like PTSD are at high risk of alcohol and drug addiction, which can contribute to homelessness. In other scenarios, disabled and unemployed veterans can struggle to keep up with their mortgages and other finances, eventually losing their homes.

3. Physical injuries/disabilities

The dangers of war can leave many veterans injured or disabled. Living with a debilitating injury or physical disability can be difficult to maintain—from increasing medical bills, lack of support, decreased productivity, unemployment, and more. In 2021, 1.9 million U.S. veterans reported a service-induced disability of 70% or higher. The influx of physical disabilities has caused the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to be unable to keep up the number of applications—backed up for months or even years. This leaves many veterans stranded without the proper help.

4. Poor mental health

Sadly, suicide and depression rates are still high for veterans. This is due to the social stigma of seeking medical treatment, causing PTSD and other mental illnesses to remain undetected until adequately diagnosed. If you or someone you know may be struggling with their mental and emotional health, know this: seeking help is the strongest action you can take for yourself and your loved ones. Connect with the Veterans Crisis Hotline for support. 

5. Lack of education

As previously mentioned, veterans who join the armed forces after high school lack the college education needed to enter the job market. Some veterans may also feel that heightening their education may be financially daunting. Your donation can help them make that initial step.

How Eggleston Can Help

Eggleston has assisted adults with disabilities for over 65 years, connecting them to vital resources, services, and employment. We launched the Warrior Bridge program to provide Virginia veterans with the resources to take advantage of their benefits. With a person-centered approach, Warrior Bridge helps veterans integrate back into society with self-sufficient ways to secure immediate employment.

Warrior Bridge Program - Eggleston

At Eggleston, we understand the profound sacrifice veterans make for the sake of our country’s safety. That’s why we’ve decided to contribute many business resources to defending veterans’ right to a fulfilling life.  Explore our Veterans Spotlight and Veteran Resource Center to see why we take pride in the employees who work with us after service.  Ready to make a change?  Donate today.