Mary Thom Adams finds ‘spark’ in helping others

Susan EspirituSouth Knox

I recently spoke with Mary Thom Adams about her journey to executive director of Spark, a role Mary Thom accepted over seven years ago after a 30-year career amassing skills in other fields of work.

Spark is a local organization housed at 116 Childress Street in South Knoxville. Per its website, “The mission of Spark is to connect people with disabilities in East Tennessee to the adaptive technology tools and services they need to live with maximum independence and dignity.”

Mary Thom recalls a friend telling her about working with a young man in rural East Tennessee who was non-verbal. The friend taught the young man to use a Tobii Dynavox device which allowed him to communicate. He even began writing newspaper articles.

“It took my breath away. I thought, dadgum this was amazing, so I put it in my pocket until I began reaching for bigger challenges to use the skills I had been developing over the years,” says Mary Thom.

Her bigger challenge has been Spark!

She says we help people work on getting “all stuff we take for granted.” Spark encounters end-of-life situations to a broken ankle that will heal to a newborn with adaptive needs. They never say no to finding help for people who come to them.

Recently, Spark helped a little guy adapt a wheelchair he was using in the house to be able to use it in the park so he could play with his friends. They also adapted a table lamp for him, so he could hit a switch for his teacher to know he was raising his hand since he couldn’t raise it himself.

Mary Thom’s passion exudes as she says how she is “inspired by the stories, touched by the lives and determined for Spark to be a source of joy.”

She says it will continue to be place to get solutions but also a smile, a pat on the back or a hug which, “in this fractured nature of our world, I feel like it’s important to find common ground with a person.”

For more information about how you could be involved: SPARK.

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