The Chatham Emergency Squad is pleased to announce that it has selected recent Chatham High School graduate Rachel Koury as its 2020 recipient of the squad’s annual scholarship award. 

Established in 2014 by Christine Grobert, a teacher at the Lafayette School, while serving as President of the Chatham Emergency Squad (2014, 2015), this annual award is presented to a Chatham High School student who has been committed to volunteerism and/or has displayed an interest in the field of medicine or science.  In 2020, the name for this scholarship was officially renamed in honor of Christine Grobert’s 21 years of dedicated service to the Chatham Emergency Squad, where she held numerous positions. 

Koury, who recently graduated from Chatham High School and will continue her education at Syracuse University where she hopes to become a speech-language pathologist, was selected from a pool of highly qualified applicants.  In addition to her stellar grades and her active participation in various extra-curricular activities while attending Chatham High School, Koury’s application stood out because of her commitment to the Adler Aphasia Center, where she helps adults with aphasia engage in conversation and activities. 

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Aphasia is the impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write.  It is caused by brain damage, such as a stroke, head trauma, brain tumors or infections and affects nearly 2 million people according to the National Aphasia Association.

For Rachel, aphasia is highly personal.  Ten years ago, the Chatham Emergency Squad came to her house to assist her mother who suffered a stroke.  Sadly, her mother never fully recovered and continues to struggle to communicate to this day.  Her mother receives the help of a speech pathologist and the constant love and support of Rachel, her brother and her father, who is continually seeking new therapies to aid in her mother’s recovery. 

Her mother’s debilitating stroke clearly defined Rachel’s childhood, but it didn’t stop her from succeeding in school and beyond.  At the Adler Aphasia Center, Rachel channeled her energy by spearheading an online program “Teens Connecting with Teens,” an online portal filled with content to help teenagers who have loved ones affected by aphasia. 

“Following my mother’s stroke, I became her voice; often explaining to my peers, as well as adults, what happened when they see her in a wheelchair, unable to speak” Koury said.  “With the online content, teens from all over the world can access the information they need in order to support loved ones with aphasia.  It also connects teenagers with others for ongoing support and answers to questions they may have.”

In 2019, Koury’s initiative was recognized unanimously by the New Jersey State Legislature for its promotion of aphasia awareness.

“Rachel faced tremendous hardships growing up, and it defined her in the best possible way,” said Evan Skinner, President of the Chatham Emergency Squad.  “Her love for her mother didn’t stop there - she found a way to help others who needed resources and a place to turn to when dealing with loved ones affected by this debilitating condition.  For this reason and more, we are thrilled to name Rachel Koury the 2020 recipient of the Christine K. Grobert Chatham Emergency Squad Scholarship Award.”

About The Chatham Emergency Squad

The Chatham Emergency Squad is an all-volunteer organization funded nearly exclusively by donations. In 2019 the Chatham Emergency Squad responded to 1246 emergency calls in Chatham Township and Chatham Borough and provided mutual aid to neighboring communities of New Vernon, Madison and Summit on occasion. Chatham Emergency Squad never charges for its services. The Squad provides stand-by support for community events, such as the Chatham Turkey Trot, Fishawack, and school athletic events. The Squad also provided free CPR training to more than 400 residents, teachers, coaches, school crossing guards and emergency personnel, including fire and police.  To learn more, to donate or to volunteer, please visit www.chathamemergencysquad.org.