There’s a lot of very exciting things going on in Marla’s life right now, so many that it will be hard to fit them all in one update! But we’ll start with the biggest news. Marla is engaged! She met her fiancé Mark Townsley during her two visits to the University of Michigan Residential Aphasia Program (RAP). Mark grew up in Michigan, and is a speech language pathologist. Mark completed his Master’s degree at Eastern Michigan University in December 2006. Marla and Mark met and really hit it off during her first session at RAP in 2006, and got to know each other better during Marla’s second RAP program in early 2007. Mark came out to visit Marla during a trip in March and April. He came out to Colorado again in early June, and then they took a trip together to see her cousin Nicole in Tennessee. Mark has been visiting Colorado for years in the summers as a trip leader for his church’s youth group, and really fell in love with the state. He got a job as a speech pathologist working for Mountain BOCES in western Colorado schools, and moved to Glenwood Springs in June. Mark and Marla have been dating for a while now, and on a drive through the Colorado National Monument during their return from a recent trip to Ouray, Mark proposed.
They haven’t yet set a date, but we are all very happy and excited in anticipation of their life together!
In other news, Marla now has a part-time job, working with children! She is working as a teacher’s assistant in a Glenwood Springs pre-school called Our School. As part of the last update, we mentioned that Marla was going to be participating in a Community Life Vision program. This program seeks to draw upon the many resources present in a supportive community, to help individuals such as Marla identify and attain new goals in personal growth and recovery. Basically, twenty-five people who care about Marla and are committed to helping her, came together for an evening of brain-storming and strategy development, to help identify ways the community can support her in setting and achieving new goals for life, employment, activities and friendships.
Marla’s group provided innumerable ideas for employment. Marla did a great deal of soul-searching, and although she received many accolades for her artistry in card-making and scrap-booking, she decided it would lose its appeal as a hobby if it became her “job.” Ultimately two of the members of Marla’s Life Vision program, Dendy Heisel and Jan McClintock suggested that Marla apply for an opening as an assistant at Our School. When applying to the preschool, Marla was asked why she would like to work there. She said, “I AM DETERMINED to work with children again, because I love them and want to make a difference.” She is working with three and four year olds 12 hours per week, and has attended staff meetings, in-service sessions and some college training classes. We hope these opportunities, combined with contact with the children, will tap into old memory and magnify the fluency of speech she has already attained. She is also continuing her tutoring classes, which have been very important in improving her reading and speaking. We cannot adequately express our gratitude to everyone who has participated in Marla’s stupendous recovery.
Marla and her family would really like to hear from all of you–so please write and let us know what is going on in your life.