To all those who are reading this blog, Happy Thanksgiving. Some of you may have spent it with loved ones enjoying a nice feast. Others may have sat in their familiar couch watching football, and some may have spent it in an airport delayed, but hopefully not.
For me, Thanksgiving has taken on a very poignant meaning in my life ever since three years ago. I have an estranged relationship with my family, but this is not the right forum to discuss that. On this holiday, we take time to reflect on what we are thankful for-our friends, our freedom and security, and many other reasons. But there's one driving force in my life that I am thankful for above all else...and that's being not just a member, but a chapter leader for the National Stuttering Association.
I often speak of how I don't have "friends" at the NSA, but rather "teammates." One of the themes I often stress at my chapter meetings is camraderie. I don't know of any other organization which has so much of this quality but here. I truly love my teammates at the NSA and what they bring. We have different perspectives and sometimes we live our lives by different philosophies, yet our bonds cannot be penetrated.
Last year at the conference at North Jersey, it was a very emotional time for me. You could say I grew up in Parsippany and became a man. I will no longer make jokes about the Siberia that lies when you cross the George Washington Bridge...last one. During the last few moments of the closing banquet, which is always an emotional time because you won't see each other until next year, and that's not always guaranteed-no one knows what the future will bring, I began to break down and cry, not because I was sad, but because I was so very happy. I was so very thankful, and one of the chapter leaders from the West Coast said, "Do you realize how lucky you are to be part of an amazing organization? Many people don't have that." I am thankful.....in so many ways for what the NSA gave me. It gave me freedom. It showed me fear doesn't have to paralyze you. And more than anything, it gave me my life. For the first time, my life is just starting. Yes, physically, I may be 30, and will be 31 in August, but I feel like my big old adventure is just starting. I will screw up. I will fail on several things. But with the NSA standing by my side, I am not afraid.
I am so thankful for the National Stuttering Association. I pledged to join their Change for the Better program, because it's the right thing to do. I have given my time, and my energy, and I am so thankful that I can make a positive impact. What scares me the most is someday the NSA may close its doors. I am thankful that with all those who are committed, it will never ever to have happen. Imagine a world where the NSA didn't exist-I don't want to, and for people who stutter, they shouldn't have to.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters.
Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.