2019 Convention Reflections

 

The perfect balance of support and comfort, while also gently nudging/empowering people to want more.

I wanted to take the time to again thank you for all you do, not just for the stuttering community but for the world as a whole. I truly believe that you and FRIENDS teaches people how to be better listeners, more empathetic and advocate for what they want/believe in — all of which are and continue to make the world a better place.

Once again I was blown away by FRIENDS ability to create such an environment that accelerates personal growth at warped speed; in less than 3 days I watched children/young adults from avoiding eye contact when they introduced themselves to standing on stage with a microphone confidently addressing a large group people. You created a space that creates the perfect balance of support and comfort, while also gently nudging/empowering people to want more.

We arrived at Friends unsure what to expect, and it turned out to be a life changing experience for our entire family.

To say that the Friends Convention had anything less than a cataclysmic effect on our lives would be a terrible underestimation. Words fall far short in expressing our gratitude to you and the entire Friends community. You all made us feel comfortable from the second we got there, and your extraordinary organizational and interpersonal skills are truly remarkable! We arrived at Friends unsure what to expect, and it turned out to be a life changing experience for our entire family. From the moment we arrived until the sad (and terribly emotional) flight home, we felt so welcomed, as though we had been coming for 20 years. Every aspect of our experience was spectacular and we profusely thank you, from the deepest recesses of our hearts and souls. You have a family for life, and if you ever need anything (lecture, etc) it would be my privilege! You have made an incalculable difference in our lives and we are truly forever indebted to you. Thank you, thank you, thank you and hope to see you before Baltimore! Enjoy the rest of your summer.

It helped me on my journey towards acceptance.

Now that I’ve had a week to process all that happened inside and out at the Friends National Convention, I have to write you a quick note.  Thank you for creating and sustaining this welcoming and experienced community. As a new parent, I was unsure what to expect, but the conference far exceeded what I had in mind. It helped me on my journey towards acceptance. Dealing with my emotions of guilt, jealousy, worry, panic and embarrassment has been the hardest part. As an SLP, I have also grown in my ability to work with kids who stutter. 

Thank you also for giving my son, James, “jobs” that showcased his extroverted personality. He loved all the attention and it helped him become invested in the convention.  He can’t wait to go to Baltimore!

When you look back on your life, I hope you feel a huge sense of accomplishment! And not only that, as you fall asleep each night, I hope you realize that you have directly impacted hundreds of people to sleep better at night too, knowing the peace, hope, inspiration, and success Friends offers all families. 

Thank you, thank you! 
Bridget Berning

I will make changes over the next year because of the convention

I had an absolute blast for being there for the first time and you can expect to see me at future conventions. I will make changes over the next year because of the convention and I couldn’t be more thankful. 

I also don’t think I fully introduced myself. I’m a 20 year old person who stutters from Raleigh, NC and I’ve only started going to get help with my stutter for a couple of years now. I’ve done the one days in Raleigh and had a blast, and my friend Lera invited me to the convention this year. I’m hoping to stay in touch throughout the year.

Thank you again for a great weekend. Can’t wait for next year in Baltimore!

Sincerely,
Tyler Jennings

2017-2018 Convention Reflections

 

We felt like we ‘belonged’ as soon as we arrived.

Thank you very much granting our family a FRIENDS scholarship.  It was very critical in allowing us to attend the conference this year.

We felt like we ‘belonged’ as soon as we arrived at the hotel. We benefitted so much from hearing of other families’ journeys, their challenges and their victories. In the parents’ sessions, we experienced a sense of belonging.  We visited with other parents of stutterers, young adults and adults who stutter who all have amazing stories. We witnessed young people stand up and speak in front of a crowd with such courage. Our son, who stutters, feels included at the conferences where he often feels excluded and left out in similar gatherings outside the stuttering community.  The conference was very well managed and the schedule was a good blend of information, sharing, and fun.  Thank you again for helping us attend the conference……  we hope to see you next year!

It became very clear that Emery was not alone and his feeling of being comfortable was through the roof.

Just want to let you know how much being able to attend the convention meant to our family. Emery, my 11 year old, has a stutter. Just moving to Kissimmee, I searched for organizations/groups in the area that give Emery a sense of belonging to and support. Upon finding information about the Friends convention, I applied for a grant so that we could enter since it was going to be nearby. When I received the reply that we not only received the grant to enter the convention, but to also stay at Embassy Suites, I thought that it was a mistake. I assumed that the error would be corrected because during this time I didn’t expect something so wonderful happening to us. I heard from Ed again with the same information and it became real. I told my children and they were very excited. We assumed that we would only support Emery at the convention.

From the moment of arrival at the Friends convention, it became very clear that Emery was not alone and his feeling of being comfortable was through the roof. The focus was Emery. He knew it, we knew it and it felt so awesome. Although we thought that we were there just as support, we were really there to learn how to support Emery in his journey. Emery learned that he can stand up to be who he is without judgment and he really can accomplish anything. I just don’t think that it would’ve been the same if we hadn’t stayed at the hotel to be able to absorb all that gained during the Friends convention.

I wanted all of my children to attend the Friends convention so that they will understand. The realization of what Emery has to deal with was very emotional for my oldest son, Justin, because as much as he loves and cares for Emery, there were times that he didn’t listen to Emery by allowing him time to speak. Justin apologized to Emery and Emery cried as well. Justin and Emery are very close and Emery considers his brothers his best friends. We learned so much.

With everything that our family is going through right now, including unsaid suffering, therapy, Justin’s tumor and Eryk’s birthday with no means, Friends stepping in and taking our family under the wing was beyond any words that I could express. We needed this opportunity more than we knew. I am forever and ever grateful to the board, Ed, Lee, Dr. Popovich and the entire Friends family for showing Emery that there’s no way that he’s alone and for helping the rest of us to see so much clearer.

From all of us… THANK YOU!!!

Regards,
Damie Rivers

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