Day 10 – The Force That Is Maura

I had the good fortune to meet Maura and to be introduced to TAP after the very unfortunate event of her mother suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. I was a covering therapist at WakeMed and had an opportunity to do a home visit with Maura and Joanie as part of her discharge planning, and an amazing and lasting professional relationship was born. I felt like I had met my speech therapy mirror in terms of looking at the rehabilitation of a stroke survivor as something that is limitless, empowering and POSSIBLE!

When Josh and I opened STEPS for Recovery in 2012, Maura joined our practice to have the opportunity to see some private clients, in addition to her “full-time volunteer job” at TAP. The passion with which she approached the reacquisition of functional communication skills and the joy with which she passed that knowledge on to others was contagious. I don’t have to tell any of you reading this about the force that is Maura, but one person alone cannot make an organization. Maura facilitates but the group members and coaches have ownership. Thru participation they gain confidence, spread awareness, reduce stigma and bring attention to the needs and support of individuals with aphasia.

I have had the opportunity to attend many TAP events from the June Signature Events to TAP Talks, performances of the TAPTastics to the STRIDES for Speech 5K and ½ mile walk, and the thing that stands out the most to me about this organization is the sense of community among the participants and staff. It’s like a family. Everyone knows each other, their stories and their families. The level of support, encouragement and love for one another is like nothing I have ever seen in any other group setting. It transcends the structured group activities and extends into social engagements and support networks that extend far beyond the walls of TAP. There is a constant sense that we are all in this together and when an individual succeeds in reaching a goal, expressing a thought or idea or leaves the wheelchair in the car and walks into a group for the first time, the whole group is lifted together.

People WANT to go to TAP. They look forward to the groups and they schedule their other therapies and appointments around TAP activities. Because it is thru the groups, the accountability, the shared experiences and the collective encouragement that survivors find hope and success. The social aspect relieves isolation and boredom and provides purpose for communicative efforts. The supportive atmosphere provides a safe place to try new things, both from a communication standpoint and sometimes even a physical activity. Every week I get a text, a video or a story about a physical accomplishment while attending a TAP group – walking without a device, sitting in a “regular” chair instead of a wheelchair, leaving the wheelchair in the car all together… TAP is an environment where individuals feel confident and competent and these are crucial components of successful and continued recovery.

TAP is committed to making programming and resources available to all individuals with aphasia and other stroke and brain injury survivors alike. There is no way to calculate the value of this resource to this community but it does not come without some cost. STEPS for Recovery has been and continues to be a regular supporter of TAP because we see every day that value of this program on the lives and recovery of our patients. Josh and I hope that you too will recognize and take advantage of the opportunity make a positive impact on the lives of so many with your financial support. Give the gift of HOPE this holiday season!