Our producer/co-director Tia Young recently received this message from one of the very first Total Experience Gospel Choir members:
Hi Tia – I wanted to share my experience as a TEGC choir member:
I was a music student in the Franklin High School Gospel Choir September 1973. Pat saw something in me she identified as a gift. So I became a student director, mentored by her.
Through scripture-based songs I began to cultivate a relationship a relationship with the Lord.
I graduated from high school, married, divorced and moved to Renton, WA. I always stayed in touch with Pat. As a young adult, when I looked for a Baptist church in the Renton area, Pat referred me to Rev. Leon C. Jones, Pastor at MLK Baptist Church. I went on to Direct the choir there for 32 years. During that time, Pat sang at my father’s funeral in 1984.
In 1996 I suffered life-threatening injuries in a car accident that left me hanging on to life. I was released from the hospital with a diagnosis that I would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of my life.
I spent the remainder of 1996 determined to walk again. Pat and TEGC decided to hold a fundraising concert for me at MLK Baptist. The choir raised more than $2,000 to help with my personal expenses. I was the single mother of a 17 year-old daughter who was a student at Franklin High School.
The fire she lit under me so many years before gave me faith in God and the determination to go through grueling physical therapy in which I regained all motor skills in my right hip and both my legs. I was walking again by December 1996.
Doctors said in August of 1996 at 38 years old I should be taken off life support and made comfortable until my life ended, which was supposed to be a matter of weeks at the time. My mother consented to removing life support, but God breathed life back into my body. I thank the Lord that at 60 years old today I walk without the aid of crutches, a wheelchair or a cane.
Pat continues to be my mentor and friend to this day. To God be the glory for bringing Pat into my life.
Sis. Stephanie (Preston) Commandest
Choir Director Alumni,
Total Experience Gospel Choir