The only thing her adoptive parents-to-be were told was “Her name is Angela.” Everything else seemed to be a mystery. Given the state of her physical health, the only thing that seemed clear was that the first two years of her life had been quite challenging and painful, and it was probably going to be a long road ahead to health and wholeness for this little girl.
Angela’s adoptive family, the Tafone’s of Westerly, had a lot of faith and hearts big enough to love her through any future challenges that would come her way. What the Tafone’s didn’t know at the time was that Angela was given her own special gifts – gifts of perseverance and an internal drive that allowed her to not only survive those first two difficult years but, when coupled with the Tafone’s love, would energize her to overcome obstacle after obstacle and endear her to many people in our community.
Little Angela responded well to the love the Tafone’s showered upon her and all the services that were put in place to help her grow into a healthy adult. Now at 18, Angela is a fine young woman whose compassion and perseverance has inspired not only her family, but so many people in Westerly. Unlike some, she is not in the least bit materialistic, is extremely generous towards others, and believes that being nice matters. Even as a small child, her brother John recounts how she made up a special game she’d like to play a lot called “Please” with the whole aim of the game being to learn that being kind to each other is important.
Angela credits her parents and siblings for being the biggest influence in her life. She also has a special admiration for the teachers who have helped her along the way, especially Mrs. Sandra Strafach, one of her math teachers, and Fr. Ray Siriani of St. Pius X parish, whom she says has given her great advice and has been a great spiritual guide.
Angela loves to sing and was a member of the Chorus of Westerly for several years. She also enjoys piano, violin, and cello. A 2017 graduate of Westerly High, Angela was involved with its Unified Sports program. As a senior, she planned, along with a trusted mentor, a Unified Prom for over 100 students. It was not only a huge personal achievement but a good time for everyone who attended the Hollywood themed prom.
Currently, Angela is a freshman at Rivier University in Nashua New Hampshire where she is majoring in Special Education and hopes to go on for a Master’s in the field. She knows from first-hand experience how valuable special education services can be because she needed various services herself. She knows that hew own experiences will give her a greater understanding of her future students’ needs. Angela is active in campus ministry at Rivier, sings in their choir, and has a part time job in the university library.
In the short term, Angela will be joining the university for a weeklong educational and recreational trip to Assisi and Rome and is quite excited about it. She will be spending the summer back home in Westerly and is currently looking for a summer job. She may also be singing with the Chorus of Westerly at this summer’s Pops in the park event.
For the long term, Angela would like to make a difference in the lives of children with various disabilities. She’d like to help in some philanthropic way to help find a cure for autism or to find out what really causes it, and other disabilities. Someday she hopes to marry and adopt children so that she can help others just as her parents, and siblings John, Michael, and Melissa, have done for her.
Angela’s dad came home and walked into the room towards the end of Angela being interviewed for this article. He reinforced what other family members had shared about her. He said that his daughter is compassionate, hardworking, conscientious, “works harder than any two people put together” and “never gives up”. Then smiling, he joked and said “Otherwise, she’s alright!”
Her name is Angela Tafone, and we are blessed to have her as part of our community.
This article has been another in our series about one of our community’s fine young citizens. This series focuses on people who have positive family and social connections, and who hold healthy and wholesome values. If any reader knows of a youth or young adult (9th grade through 25 years old) who should be considered as a focus for this series please submit their names, and reasons why they meet these criteria to [email protected]and they just might be chosen to have an article written about them.