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Voices of Hope for Aphasia is devastated to announce the death of Co-Founder, Kathy Caputo, who passed away on September 19, 2022, after a valiant battle with cancer.  Click here to read the family’s tribute to Kathy and for information about NJ memorial services.

Kathy during the early years of Voices of Hope for Aphasia helping families cope with a diagnosis of aphasia.

In 2009, Kathy’s husband, Mike Caputo suffered a massive stroke. He lost his ability to speak and lost all use of the right side of his body. The days that followed were very long and challenging for them and their daughters, Nicole, Amanda, and Jaclyn.  They found themselves with an uncertain future and many unanswered questions. In the aftermath of Mike’s stroke, they realized that his needs and the needs of others struggling with aphasia were going unmet. In 2011 the Caputo’s, along with help from current Executive Director Debbie Yones founded Voices of Hope for Aphasia, which provides a nurturing and supportive environment for those struggling with aphasia, as well as the family members and caregivers.  In 2013, the Caputo’s enlisted Dr. Jackie Hinckley and together they grew the organization into what it is today. 

Dr. Jackie Hinckley and the Caputos received the Stroke Hero award in 2016 from the American Stroke Association.

“Kathy’s impact upon those of us affiliated with Voices of Hope for Aphasia extends far beyond the obvious,” says board of directors’ chairperson, Stephen Miller. “Through will, determination, and passion, utilizing every available tool and emotion, she simply wouldn’t allow the organization to fail. She had a vision that necessitated constant involvement but remained ever the supportive spouse.  Kathy showed the rest of us how we could participate with our loved ones but still continue to provide support and encouragement as their advocate”.

Terri and Stephen Miller, Chair of VOH Board of Directors, with Kathy Caputo after a Founders Cruise. “In every capacity in which I knew Kathy, co-founder and friend, she displayed persistent tenacity. Whether she was advocating for Voices of Hope for Aphasia or supporting Mike’s efforts, she simply would not be denied. She was a force who we all were fortunate to have on our side.”

Executive Director, Debbie Yones, says “From the day I met her, Kathy has been a tireless advocate for those with aphasia. She had a relentless commitment to raising awareness and ensuring respect and understanding of our organization and those in our community who struggle with aphasia. Because of her devotion and determination, we have made a significant impact in over 500 people’s lives to date. We will continue to keep fighting in her honor and strive to be a place where every voice is valued.”

Mike and Kathy at a Max Adventure, a program that empowers people with aphasia and their families to participate in activities in our community.

We are grateful that Kathy’s family has chosen to honor her memory through donations to Voices of Hope for Aphasia in lieu of flowers. To make a contribution in Kathy’s memory, you may donate securely here.

Memories from the VOH “Family”

“I met Kathy and Mike at a monthly family group meeting before Voices of Hope for Aphasia was even established. From the very beginning of our friendship, I knew Kathy was there for me. She always reassured you that whatever you are going through we are all going through. Things would only get better; this would be our “new normal”. I will always be so grateful to Mike and Kathy’s vision for Voices of Hope. I don’t know where John or I would be without this new family. I will miss those last- minute phone calls, “meet me for a drink, we need to vent”, or “we need to bounce some ideas around”. She was always there to laugh with and more importantly, to cry with. I will carry these memories forever. I will always cherish my extended family. Heaven has gained a beautiful angel. Rest easy.” – Your Forever Ann…

Photo: Ann Dingman (second from left) attended Jaclyn Caputo’s wedding. From left, Jeanne, Ann, Jaclyn, Kathy, Mike, Amanda

“I vividly remember first meeting Kathy and Mike almost eleven years ago. At that time Voices of Hope was still in the initial startup phase.  I was certainly blessed to be one of the founding members of this life changing group. It has been a pivotal part of my stroke recovery and an ongoing source of support and socialization. From the beginning, I felt Kathy took a personal interest in my journey.  She would check in with me periodically and I felt I could always count on her if I needed anything. She is a dear friend, and I will truly miss her. Forever in our hearts.” – Kathryn and Patrick McCabe, members of VOH

Photo: John, Nancy, Kathryn, Mike, Vicki, and Stephanie at VOH outing in 2013.

“I’ve known Kathy Caputo for over 30 years. It’s not surprising that Voices of Hope for Aphasia became a leading community-based aphasia center in less than 10 years. Her passionate and selfless vision to serve others is the foundation of our mission. Thanks to Kathy Caputo, the mission to serve people with aphasia will not perish.” – Ken Bado, founding board member

“I have known Kathy Caputo for over 30 years.  She was relentless with her passion for people with aphasia and for Voices of Hope for Aphasia.  From the first time she and Mike sought out a community based aphasia support group, Kathy was determined to provide Mike with the best possible support.  After moving to Florida, Kathy and Mike founded Voices of Hope for Aphasia. Her passion and vision will live on for those with aphasia to receive the support they deserve.” – John Valavanis, founding board member

Photo: Front row: Ken Bado, Debbie Yones, John Valavanis Back row: Steve Blum, Kathy and Mike Caputo, Jackie Hinckley, Des Welch in 2016 at the “Looking Forward” gala

“I met Kathy even before we knew about Voices of Hope. My late wife, Danniella, suffered a stroke in April 2012. We decided to enroll in intensive speech therapy and narrowed down our choices to three; one in St. Petersburg. Since winter was coming, Dannie indicated that she preferred St. Petersburg, so I called the Aphasia Center. Kathy answered the phone, and I explained our situation. We had a marvelous conversation and Kathy immediately put me at ease. She suggested that we come down to Florida, tour the clinic and see if we liked St. Petersburg. I replied that was unnecessary, as Dannie had already decided on coming to St. Petersburg for the winter. Kathy burst out in that signature laugh of hers. On first day at the Aphasia Center, Dannie was nervous and started crying while we waited in the lobby. Kathy came in and saw how upset Dannie was. She sat down, put her arm around Dannie, and told her that she was going to do fine and everyone in the clinic would help her achieve her goals. Kathy took such good care of Dannie during our stays in St. Pete and made us feel part of the family.” – Des Welch, board member

Photo: Des and Dannie, front row right, with Mike, Kathy (back row) and other Voices of Hope members on an outing in 2013

“We met Kathy in 2013 at a meet & greet at USF on a Saturday morning. At that time, we did not realize the impact that day would have on our lives. Meeting Mike & Kathy took us on a journey that connected us to people in our same situation. That key day enriched our lives over the years & has made a positive impact on our quality of life. Kathy, in partnership with Mike, was the driving force in championing the cause of VOH. Outspoken, tenacious, warm-hearted, welcoming, & yes, at times, showing that Jersey girl spunk were great qualities Kathy brought to the organization. We will forever be connected to VOH due to the Caputo’s mission of connecting people living with aphasia. It has been a blessing to know Kathy.” – Mike and MC Daughtry, board member

Photo: Mike Daughtry with Vicki and Mike Caputo at an early health fair

“Kathy was full of compassion and hope and worked hard for people with aphasia. I am grateful for her work at Voices of Hope for Aphasia. Kathy and Mike were frustrated at a stroke support meeting because Mike did not feel supported as a person with aphasia. So they decided to start Voices of Hope. Kathy had a big heart. Ten years ago, when VOH was just starting, Kathy went to the grocery store and heard Nancy nearby talking. Kathy knew she was a person with aphasia and could be helped by Voices of Hope. Kathy looked down each aisle until she found Nancy and invited her to join VOH. Voices of Hope is so important to me. I moved from San Jose California to Dunedin so that I could be part of Voices of Hope. Moving here changed my life. Voices of Hope became my family, and I have Kathy to thank for that. I want to keep helping people with aphasia. I am grateful that VOH sprung a new path for me in aphasia advocacy. I’m grateful for Kathy and her hard work. She will be missed.” – Trish Hambridge, member of VOH

Photo: Trish (in white jacket) and Kathy with other VOH families at an awards ceremony for volunteers. Ann Dingman was nominated by the Caputos and VOH.

Information about local memorial services will be announced at a later date. Do you have a photo or memory of Kathy? Post it on Kathy’s tribute page or on our Facebook page.