Founded 100 years ago, Easterseals is one of the best-known nonprofits in the United States. As the venerable organization enters its second century of serving people with disabilities, an Avery Ranch resident is helping Easterseals innovate and change lives.
Tod Marvin is the president and CEO of Easterseals Serving Central Texas. One of the most exciting things going on with his organization is Easterseals Lawn & Landscape. The full-service landscaping company serves businesses and government entities around Central Texas — “all the way from San Marcos up through Round Rock,” Marvin says. “We’ve been slowly but surely growing it for about the last two or three years or so.”
At the same time the LLC provides services like mowing, trimming and weed-eating, it’s also providing myriad benefits to its employees with disabilities. The lawn company enables its employees to work for a higher wage while they receive job training. But that’s only the beginning.
“It’s been life-changing in a lot of ways,” Marvin says. “We also have a lot of wrap-around services that we make available to the clients in the program.”
A licensed professional counselor is with the employees in the field every day to help them deal with any mental health issues or challenges. Easterseals also partners with other organizations to help fill employees’ additional needs, like food and shelter. It’s all part of “a web of community support,” Marvin says, that helps the lawn company’s employees build their long-term future.
“We think it’s aligned perfectly with our mission to help people with disabilities live independently in the community as much and as long as they possibly can,” he says.
This is the first time Marvin has launched a social venture.
“We are a traditional nonprofit,” he says. “We had never gotten into a business that was specifically intended to generate revenue to support the clients and the mission. … It’s for profit, for good. Any profit that’s made off of the enterprise goes right back into mission of Easterseals.”
The lawn service is just one aspect of Marvin’s work. Easterseals Serving Central Texas, which he has been with for six years, is one of the region’s largest nonprofit providers of disability services. “And we have been for the last 85 years,” he adds.
Marvin is also the senior vice president-southwest region for Fedcap Group, the parent organization for Easterseals Serving Central Texas and other nonprofit brands.
Service is just a part of who Marvin is. Growing up the son of a pastor, “It was always engrained in us for as long as I can remember that helping others is the most important thing you can do,” he says. He was a veteran of nonprofit work even before coming to Easterseals. His previous roles were at organizations including the American Heart Association, BloodCenter of Wisconsin and the American Red Cross.
Marvin, wife Corinne and their two daughters moved to the Austin area from Wisconsin about 15 years ago. “We came for the weather but stayed for the friends and the fun and everything else that is so attractive about Austin,” he says. And ever since they moved here, he and his family have lived in Avery Ranch. They’ve seen the area change and grow. “There’s always something being built, something new coming into the neighborhood, new people, new schools, new everything,” he says. “It’s been a great place to live.”
Moving to the neighborhood was a formative experience for his daughters. To make friends, they got involved in the Forest North Stingrays swim team. “It was a great way to get connected to a new community we didn’t know anything about,” Marvin says.
Today, his older daughter, Sutton, is on the swim team at the University of Nebraska. Younger daughter Payton is an 11th-grader at McNeil High School and being recruited by college swim teams. They’re also still good friends with their old Forest North teammates, as the Marvins are with the other team parents.
If you’re inspired by Marvin’s work, he has some advice for anyone who wants to work with a nonprofit or launch a social venture.
“Always remember your mission and why you got into it in the first place,” he says. Thinking about how you moved the needle on your mission every day will help keep you motivated. “In the nonprofit world, actually seeing the good that we do is the ‘profit-sharing’ that keeps us going.”
To learn more about Easterseals services in Central Texas, visit www.easterseals.com/centraltx or call 512-478-2581.
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