12 Days of Tap 2020: Day 4
From Fear to Friendship
– Michelle Kilgore –
Maura’s Intro: It is often said that a story is best told by its author. This is true for everything from recounting family histories to self-advocating for needs by an individual struggling with access. To truly TAP (all pun intended) into the power of autobiographical narratives, you need a person willing to be vulnerable, to take chances and to embrace the power of influence. This is exactly how I would describe TAP client and advocate-extraordinaire, Michelle.
Michelle, and her wife, Gina didn’t just “step” into a role at TAP Unlimited, …they took a giant leap! Absorbing all of the lessons from Learning to Speak Aphasia training, watching intently and modeling group leaders cues and supporting every effort to increase aphasia awareness…this family launched into a leadership role in our organization. I love to listen to Michelle express genuine interest in every TAP client’s passions and her willingness to share her own. She has adopted new hobbies in the realm of art, horticulture and even cooking. I was not surprised by the enthusiastic nomination of this family to share their aphasia story…but, I was, once again, extremely grateful.
Michelle (Client): I remember meeting Abbe the first time when my wife brought me to TAP. She asked ME to talk, and it was so hard. I had a hard time putting together a sentence talking to her. She told me how TAP would be very beneficial to me having other people with aphasia to talk to.
The very first meeting I went to at TAP I was very nervous, but I was welcomed and when I started to talk, I stopped having the fear to speak. I felt like the way I talked was ok because there were other people there that understood me and what I was going through. I became so excited to go to TAP because every time I went, I saw myself getting better and better. I felt less isolated. The people I have met have now become more than friends. They are family and are extremely important to me.
I have learned so many things from TAP classes, like how to garden, and as a 57-year-old woman, I am now finally learning to cook through TAP. As a very spiritual lesbian woman, I have been fully accepted at TAP, even in my TAP bible class, which means so much to me. I love spending time and learning and laughing with all of my TAP friends. It has made me braver to be able to talk to strangers out in public, and make my own phone calls for appointments and personal matters.
TAP has taken me from a place of fear and helped me find my voice!
Gina (Spouse/Care Partmer): My wife, Michelle, had a stroke 1 year ago. After a long stay in the hospital and rehab, several friends, nurses and therapist told us we needed to contact TAP. I was very nervous about this. I knew Michelle wouldn’t be working anymore, and I was terrified that we would not be able to afford any more medical fees. I didn’t know what to expect honestly. When we met with the TAP representative and we were told what TAP does, and the fees, what a relief. We got Michelle started with TAP right away, straight out of rehab.
With the pandemic especially, TAP has been a true-life saver for Michelle. As I sit in my office working during the day, it fills my heart with such joy listening to her laugh, cry and just connect with other people with aphasia. She is learning to garden and cook. She is encouraged to read and write and do art, which I personally love. I am incredibly grateful for what TAP has done for Michelle and has taught me about what to expect and how to help Michelle cope with her aphasia.
From the TAP Home Office:
TAP Unlimited’s End of Year Campaign provides TAP Stakeholders an opportunity to embrace the reason for our efforts and hear from those who have been impacted by aphasia. Aphasia, as you know, can be a devastating impairment resulting in social isolation, depression and disengagement from the passions and purpose of an individual’s life. It can interrupt a career, destroy plans for retirement and threaten relationships. TAP Unlimited is embarking on its 18th year of service to those effected by aphasia across the Triangle and beyond.
Our ability to pivot and create a virtual world of connection possibilities, to stay afloat and to even thrive, has been, in no small way, a result of the generosity of our donor base. Today, we ask that you continue to support TAP by doing the following:
- Share this story. Share it on your social media, in emails to your family/friends and to those you work with…it will increase awareness of Aphasia and provide hope to those who feel alone in this journey.
- Consider an end-of-year gift to TAP. You can donate online and make it a gift by honoring someone on the aphasia journey.
- Donations can also be mailed in the form of a check or a donation of stock. Email us for more information.
Thank you for your faith in our organization and for supporting the 12 Days of TAP!