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In the Spotlight:

Meet Amanda Charney, SSIS Founder

Small Steps In Speech is a national non-profit, but founder Amanda Charney’s mission to help the less fortunate extends beyond the borders of this country. For the past six years, after losing Marc, Amanda has embarked on summer journeys.

Some have been focused on healing and personal challenges, such as in 2011 when she ran a marathon in Alaska after a TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) session for women who lost loved ones in the military.   Other years she has travelled to impoverished regions of the world to do charity work with children. She’s done this on her own means, without the help of a sponsoring organization or tour guide. Amanda traveled to India in 2012, Tanzania in 2013, and China, Vietnam, and Cambodia in 2014 to volunteer her services as a Speech Language Pathologist in orphanages and schools.         

“It started as a pact between Marc and me for our bucket list,” Amanda says. “We wanted to see the seven wonders and continents.” After his death, fulfilling this pact became a way for her to remember him and self-reflect while still finding ways to help others. And more, she did it in order to prove that she could do it. “The best part is figuring out what as a human you can do by yourself. You have to put yourself in a scary situation, then put your faith in your gut and god.”

Going to these countries involved moments of culture shock for Amanda. At times she faced grim and unimaginable living conditions. “I did not expect the extreme poverty, the neglect for women and children with disabilities, and the lack of precautions for children with malaria. But I don’t mean to disrespect these places. There was still so much beauty there.” Though no plans are finalized, Amanda hopes to go to Peru, Argentina, or Chile in the future to help orphans in South America. “It’s my passion,” Amanda says, “Babies are my passion.”

This summer Amanda’s travels kept her a little closer to home but on the road for six weeks. On July 27th, she traveled to Idaho with nine other military widows for a program with the Travis Manion Foundation and No Barriers USA.  This technology-free wilderness experience incorporated physical challenges with a focus on healing and celebration of life.  She then independently hiked and traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest.  After several independently driven charitable journeys, this is another way for Amanda to learn more about what she’s capable of doing, for others and for herself.