A Social for Social Justice – Guest Blogger Gail Fanjoy on Wednesday’s TASH Night Out

A lively crowd of veteran and newcomer TASHers gathered in the spacious ballroom tonight for a TASH Night Out fundraiser. I was charged with designing an opening “ice breaker.” So members of the development committee and I greeted diners with an odd request:  “Turn around so we can put this name tag on your back.” Thus started the “Who Am I?” icebreaker where people had to guess who they were by simply asking yes/no questions. Some were pleased with their newfound celebrity status while others were insulted with the mere association. Sharon Lohrmann was George W. Bush and not too pleased about it! The event attracted TASH members and supporters from across the country, and was truly a warm and eclectic mix of people.

A solo guitarist provided background music and a PowerPoint of TASH Night Out parties looped as we dined and got caught up on each other’s lives.  Carol Quirk, TASH President, called upon several TASH members to come to the podium to share a TASH memory in honor of our 35th anniversary.  Ralph Edwards spoke about TASH’s vision – both in its rich history and going forward into the future; Anne Smith recalled seeing Sue Rubin do a presentation using Facilitated Communication and the significant impact that had on her; Susan Yuan spoke of Herb Lovitt and how he taught us a new way of thinking and acting in support of people with challenging behaviors.  Susan also said, “TASH feeds my soul.”  As it does so many of us, Susan!!  Emily Titon, self-advocate from Rhode Island talked about her “TASH family” – the people she’s met through TASH and in particular TASH New England.  Sandi McClennen announced that Michigan is institution and ICF/MR free – which resulted in cheers from the crowd.  She said the 1989 TASH Conference presentations about FC and the presumption of competence was “life changing”.  Ed Bielecki, long-time TASH members who just returned to the fold talked about the TASH Conference when he lost track of his daughter, Bonnie, on the elevator.  Sue Schaffer from Seattle talked about TASH being “base.”  Barb Coppens appreciates TASH for the opportunity to advocate.  She said what so many of us feel, “I have a passion.”  And Nancy Ward, long-time Board member is thankful to be able to share ideas with like-minded people.  She used the term “couch talking” to describe the conversation klatches where she and others would debrief from the day and share stories, ideas and debates.

The evening ended with awards for outgoing Board members Curtis Richards and Nancy Ward.  As a newly elected Board member, I deeply appreciate their time and commitment to TASH by serving the organization in this manner.

TASH Night Out…a social for social justice…a way to “feed our soul.”