“To say I have a heart for AGAPE would be an understatement. It is truly in my blood.”
Even if you’ve met Nicole Spickard, AGAPE’s Foster Care Administrative Assistant, you may have never guessed her amazing backstory or that she had a role in the formation of AGAPE of NC. Maybe Nicole’s words capture it best: “I’m a lifer. I can’t NOT work for AGAPE. It’s too much a part of who I am.”
Nicole was born on March 11, 1979, in Murfreesboro, TN.
Born three months early with multiple medical issues, she was given up for adoption at birth. At the time she weighed just 2 pounds, 1 ounce and her medical needs could not be met in a small-town hospital. Nicole was then transferred to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, TN. That’s where her story really began.
Her tiny size and compelling story made Nicole a bit of a media sensation in the area right away. There were several newspaper articles about her, many of which shared her poor prognosis. Doctors predicted that Nicole would be blind, deaf, had brain damage, and would only live until the age of one. Her photo even became the cover of the hospital’s NICU brochure.
“One of these news stories caught the eye of someone who later would become a big part of AGAPE of NC — Tom Slaughter. Nicole remembers being told that Tom immediately said, “This little girl needs someone to love her.” And that’s just what he did.”
Tom and his wife, Joan, decided right then that Nicole needed to be part of their family.
They immediately made an appointment with the president of the hospital to discuss adopting Nicole. Due to the media coverage and Nicole’s poor prognosis, the hospital president was very skeptical about their intentions. It didn’t take long for him to realize where Nicole belonged though. After the visit Joan took off her name tag and wrote “I want her” on the back and handed it to the hospital president. And with that moving expression of unconditional love, he knew Nicole needed to be theirs.
The next steps were not easy. Tom and Joan started to be educated about how to take care of Nicole’s medical needs, as well as commencing the licensing process to become foster parents. They accomplished both tasks and were able to officially adopt Nicole by Thanksgiving 1979.
If you’ve met Nicole, you are aware she is thriving today! She is now married with two young children of her own. You may even know that Nicole has worked with AGAPE of NC since she was a teenager. But did you know that, even as a toddler, Nicole played an integral role in getting AGAPE established in North Carolina?
It was actually Nicole’s pediatrician in Nashville, TN, Dr. Lowry “Dale” Kirby, who introduced Tom and Joan to the notion of getting involved with AGAPE of NC. His brother, PD Kirby, was on the Board of AGAPE of NC in Greensboro at the time and looking for someone special to spearhead the fledgling organization.
Eventually, through this chance connection, Tom became AGAPE’s first Executive Director, and, along with Joan and their children, the heart of our organization for many, many years.