According to the http://www.dictionary.com web site, the word "camaraderie" is defined as good fellowship or comradeship. I've mentioned that word frequently when it comes to the National Stuttering Association. I firmly believe that word, in all its succinctness, defines the NSA. There is passion. There is an incredible desire to make our voices heard. But more than anything else, we have an amazing level of camaraderie that is unmatched anywhere.
On Saturday, December 13, I had the pleasure of attending a holiday party that was hosted by the Manhattan (New York County) chapter. It is always an honor for me to attend any activities where the NSA is center stage. I contacted the chapter leader of the group, and asked if he would open it up to other NSA chapters in the area, and he gladly said yes. I contacted several other chapters, such as Queens County (Queens), Kings County (Brooklyn), Central Jersey, South Jersey, and my chapter members. I was counting down the days until this event could take place, and it was so worth the wait.
There were about twelve people who joined us for dinner. The 5:53 train from Hicksville en route to Penn Station could not have gotten there fast enough. It's so much fun living in the suburbs, but I digress LOL. We started the evening off by enjoying a hearty meal at Dallas BBQ in Times Square, 221 West 42nd Street between Seventh & Eighth Avenue. It was great to see everyone, and I was able to catch up with the Queens chapter leader, who was the very well-deserved recipient (along with his colleagues) of the Chapter of the Year Award for Lousiana-LaFayette. We had good conversation, just laughing, talking, being. For the first time in a long while, we could all forget about the world's troubles..the struggles of the economy, the politics going on. Afterward, we all hopped on the subway and hit up Sing Sing Karaoke, in the St. Marks neighborhood. What a fantastic time it was! We had everything from Billy Joel to Nancy Sinatra to Baby One More Time....the person who sang that will remain nameless of course. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I just might be falling in love with everything the NSA stands for. There are different kinds of love of course-you can love your parents, you can love your pet, you can love the city you live in-and you can love an ideal or a philosophy. I love everyone at the NSA, and I love the values we share with each other. David Archuleta, the runner-up for "American Idol" may have been right: "This crush isn't going away." My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted, and make you voice heard.