Who: When family and friends look at Carbondale resident Tammy Slaminko Usher, they see a woman who always offered kindness and comfort to anyone who stopped by. As her three kids — Allie, Carissa and Billy Usher — grew up, their friends and classmates all knew her, not just because of her welcoming nature but also thanks to her jobs as a cook for Head Start and later as a substitute teacher’s aide for elementary and high school classes. Originally from Pittsburgh, Usher is the daughter of Sandy and James Slaminko, now living in Sarasota, Florida; has three siblings, Marni and husband Dan, Alan and wife MaryBeth, and the late Bob; and also a niece and nephew, Madysen and Ayden.
What: Fifteen years ago, doctors diagnosed Usher with diabetes, which in turn caused neuropathy in her hands, feet and legs. That condition made simple tasks such as standing, sitting and walking for long periods of time difficult. Finding it tough to work, Usher applied for disability but was denied, and her children stepped up to help pay bills and cover daily living costs.
Matters worsened two days before Thanksgiving when Usher suffered a stroke, which led to a week’s hospitalization, two weeks in rehabilitation at Allied Services and in-home health care to help her even with just simple movements like walking. Already experiencing weakness on one side of her body, Usher ended up back in the emergency room with a heart attack and learned the four arteries to her heart were blocked. Following open-heart surgery, Usher spent another week hospitalized before returning home, where she has relied on her children to take care of daily tasks. Usher struggles every day but said the experience has made her appreciate not only her health but also her family and everyone who has stepped up to help out. Her family feels hopeful Usher’s body will heal and that she will grow stronger and better each day.
When/where: People can donate through the GoFundMe page, “Help Tammy get through open heart surgery/recovery.”
Why: Donations will help pay Usher’s rent and buy household supplies, toiletries, clothes and whatever else she needs as she recovers.
In her own words: “Mom is so very grateful to everyone who is showing their love and support in this time of need. She doesn’t need to worry about not having money for basic, everyday items. All she needs to worry about is resting and taking it easy so her body can heal itself. It isn’t easy, not one bit. She feels pain but is hopeful that the pain will stop and she will feel better than before. … On behalf of myself and my mother, we would like to say thank you to every single person who is helping Mom through this. Even if people can’t donate, the support alone helps Mom to realize that people really do care and support her. And that is all that we ask for.” — Allie Usher
Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest