Happy Anniversary!

Chapter Meeting at the Bala Cynwyd Library, 1987

Chapter Meeting at the Bala Cynwyd Library, 1987

February marks the 30th anniversary of our chapter.   Our founder, Bill Parry, tells the story about the first meeting.  He placed an ad on the newspaper to advertise the meeting, not really knowing if he would reach anyone.  The day of the meeting, a Saturday, started with a blizzard and Bill was wondering if anyone would venture out.  Well, 26 people showed up!  The next month, over 30 people attended.  There was such a need for a support group for people who stutter that bad weather didn’t deter anyone.

At that time, the NSA was called The National Stuttering Project (it became NSA around 1999-2000). The NSP was an organization that had originated in California in 1977 and promoted self-help support via support groups where people could share experiences, learn about their stuttering and gain self confidence, which lead to increased fluency.  In 1985, attorney Bill Parry convinced the NSP to come to Philadelphia and at a regional meeting held on January 19th, 1985, the chapter was founded.  The first meeting took place in February 3rd, 1985.

While researching for this anniversary I have learned that during our 30 years of existence our chapter has had a lot of influence on many areas that have helped define the work done by the NSA and its chapters (keep reading).   I am very thankful to Bill Parry and Lou Madonna for all the work they have done and I hope to be able to continue in their tradition of helping people who stutter find the support and resources they need.

Stay tuned for details about a Spring celebration for this important milestone!

Did you know?

  • Bill Parry is the author of the opening and closing words that, with some minor modifications, every NSA Chapter uses to begin and end its meetings.
  • Bill Parry and Dan Weiss, editor of the Philly NSP newsletter “Speaking Out”,  were honored with the “Spirit of Philadelphia” Award by WCAU-TV10 for their service to the community through the Philadelphia NSP Chapter.
  • The Philadelphia NSP Chapter hosted the sixth annual convention of the NSP in June, 1989.
  • During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, we coordinated closely with the Delaware NSP Chapter, until it folded in 1992.  Barbara Koval and Paul Castellano, who were involved with both the Philadelphia and Delaware NSP Chapters, were responsible for creating the National Stuttering Awareness Week observance back in 1988.  They were instrumental in having a resolution passed by Congress which was signed by President Reagan.
  • Bill Parry was elected to two 3-year terms on the NSA Board of Directors from June 1997 to June 2003.  This was a time of turbulence and transition for the organization, with a change in leadership as well as a change in name – from the National Stuttering Project to the National Stuttering Association.
  • Bill Parry was also Chair of the Advocacy Committee from 1997 to 2003 and got involved in employment discrimination matters.  He researched and created most of the material that the NSA offers for advice regarding advocacy issues for employment, discrimination, etc.
  • Lou Madonna was awarded Chapter Leader of the year in 2005.
  • Bill Parry is the author of the book “Understanding and Controlling Stuttering” and all its profits go to the NSA.
  • We also work closely with the South Jersey Chapter which was formed in 1998  by Katherine Filer and Lucy Reed; however, the Tri County Fluency Group, its precursor, was started by Katherine Filer in 1992.

Time line

  • Jan 19, 1985 – The Philadelphia Area Chapter is founded at the regional meeting of the National Stuttering Project (NSP).  Coverage of the event by Channel 6 AM Philadelphia starring Bill Parry and C. Woodruff Starkweather can be seen here.
  • Feb 2, 1985 – Bill Parry, our founder and first chapter leader, held the first meeting of the chapter during a blizzard.  26 people showed up.
  • 1987 – Bill Parry and Dan Weiss receive Spirit of Philadelphia” Award from Channel 10 News.  See video here.
  • 1989 – 6th NSA Annual conference held in Philadelphia.
  • 1997 – Bill Parry becomes member of the NSA Board of Directors and Chair of the Advocacy Committee and remains for 6 years.
  • 2000 – Bill Parry retires as chapter leader and Sherri Laster takes over through the end of that year.
  • June 2001 – Lou Madonna becomes Chapter Leader.
  • April 2003 – Regional workshop at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), conducted by Russ Hicks.
  • June 2005 – Lou Madonna receives Chapter Leader Award at the NSA Conference.
  • July 2005 – Alan Badmington, from Wales, held a Saturday workshop at our chapter.
  • June 2010 – Lou Madonna retires as Chapter Leader.  Bill Parry resumes leadership of our chapter.
  • November 2013 – Carmen Shapiro becomes Chapter Leader.