HLAA is proud of and grateful to the hundreds of members who have developed an extensive network of our organizations. HLAA national is initiating Spotlight to foster teamwork. Spotlight is an opportunity to share successes and unite us in our common mission.
Every few weeks several chapters will be spotlighted to share a success story that has helped them grow. These stories are to encourage chapters to try something new.
When selected, leaders will be emailed a brief online form with space to write something that has worked well for that chapter. (Stories should not be longer than 500 words and may be edited for space and other considerations.)
Periodically, the webmaster will post new entries here on the Spotlight page and will also be announced in other HLAA media.
Questions may be directed to email@example.com.
Los Angeles’ Amazing Grace
The HLAA Los Angeles Chapter is home to a very special HLAA member who has been actively involved at the chapter level since 1984 when she first learned about Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. Grace Tiessen, who is also the editor of the award winning California state newsletter; The Hearing Loss Californian, celebrated her 95th birthday this past spring.
Lisa Yuan, president of the HLAA Los Angeles Chapter says “Grace has charmed us and blessed us with her presence every month at our meetings. She continually amazes us with her wit, larger-than-life personality, and seemingly ageless body and mind. In her lifetime, she has defied every stereotype associated with being a woman, especially a woman with hearing loss. She is now defying every stereotype associated with aging.”
When she was interviewed about her hearing loss in 1984 when she joined SHHH, She said: “Hearing loss is a chronic stressor. Trying to hear is exhausting because of the effort and concentration required to understand and communicate. Sheer fatigue can cause a person to tune out when there is no more energy left to unscramble sounds.”
Thirty years later, Grace had this to say: “Finding SHHH in 1984 was the beginning of a whole new life for me. HLAA gave me friends, causes to advocate for, information, technological support, and a hard of hearing family. I am grateful.”
When asked what to share with the younger generation of people with hearing loss, she said: “Get involved with HLAA. Embrace and accept your hearing loss. You cannot participate in life to its fullest if you don’t. If you deny your disability, you deny yourself accommodations.”
Many of us had the pleasure of wishing Grace a Happy Birthday at the national HLAA convention in Austin in June. The Hearing Loss Association of Los Angeles has a Facebook page. Be sure to ‘like’ them, and take time to wish ‘Amazing Grace’ a happy 95th year!
NOTE: This is edited from the information in the HLAA Convention 2014 Program and Exhibit Guide. Ed Ogiba, director of chapter development, asked that we include this in the Spotlight Column. I agree! Grace really is amazing. It was nice to see her at the convention.
Spotlight Editor for HLAA
HLAA Rochester Chapter has Cochlear Implant Subgroup
Dynamic and vital, the HLAA Rochester Chapter was established in 1983, making it among the oldest chapters. Cochlear implants were figments of science fiction when the organization started its mission to support, educate and advocate for people with hearing loss in upstate New York. One of many projects and programs the HLAA Rochester Chapter promotes is a cochlear implant subgroup that began in 2010 and holds meetings twice a year.
The real experts on cochlear implants are the people who use them every day to hear in classrooms, meetings, concerts, at dinner at home or restaurants, alerting them to sounds of pleasure or danger—all the noises of living. The cochlear implant subgroup of the Rochester Chapter is conducted by experts.
Anyone interested in cochlear implants is welcome to participate. Meetings are advertised on the chapter web site and in the monthly newsletter.
People with implants, friends and family, and professionals in the hearing loss fields have all attended meetings. Most important are those considering implants. They have queries and concerns about surgery, rehabilitation, and devices and can benefit from the experiences of old timers. Generally 10-15 people attend.
In addition to round-table conversations, representatives from all three cochlear implant manufacturers have updated participants on new developments of their products. Audiologists and doctors of the Strong Hospital cochlear implant team have explained the implant experience from their point of view. Education, whether of possible ci candidates, their families, or members is the most important task of the group.
There is close overlap between the subgroup and the larger HLAA Rochester Chapter. In 2013 and 2014, two panels of cochlear implant wearers told their experiences at chapter meetings. At least one chapter meeting annually features either a surgeon or an audiologist who work with cochlear implants.
Rochester is unusual in that a college established to train deaf students, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, is located nearby. About one third of present students have cochlear implants notwithstanding the large local culturally Deaf population. The Cochlear Implant group participants can clarify the benefits of an implant from first hand experience. About 20 HLAA Rochester Chapter members employ implants, a number being bilateral.
Echoing the HLAA mission, the cochlear implant subgroup educates, informs, supports and advocates for cochlear implant users and their friends and families in the larger community.
HLAA Rochester Chapter
Albuquerque Chapter Members Meet Future Audiologists
A panel of four HLAA Albuquerque chapter members met in March, with a class of 46 University of New Mexico students who plan to pursue advanced degrees in audiology or speech pathology. The panel consisted of: Jim Ogle, a member with Meniere's disease; Dr. Norm Dawson, a previously deaf cochlear implant recipient; Karen Twohig, a long time hearing aid user who transitioned to a CI; and Steve Frazier, an HLAA member whose ski slope hearing loss is hereditary but exacerbated by noise exposure.
The panelists were asked to personalize their experiences with hearing loss, how it affected their personal communication at home, work, and in social settings. They were also asked to share their personal experiences with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other hearing assistive technologies. One of the more interesting anecdotes were offered by Karen Twohig who reported that her husband rings the doorbell when he arrives home to alert her so she isn't startled to see movement in the house when he comes in since she can't hear him enter. Their entire home is looped.
Dr. Dawson, who met and married his ASL interpreter while studying to become a chiropractor, told how his hearing deteriorated during childhood and early adult hood until he was deaf. He then explained how he was able to transition back to hearing quickly, (including talking on the telephone), after receiving a cochlear implant. Jim Ogle discussed how stress seemed to aggravate his Meniere's with recurrent bouts of vertigo. He said this problem had become a thing of the past, for the most part, since he retired and is under less stress.
Steve Frazier focused on how many years he wore hearing aids before learning about telecoils and hearing loops, something that he benefits from daily. The TV in his home is connected to a hearing loop, and he also uses a personal neckloop in many situations, including a personal FM system and a Pocket Talker®.
Each panelist stressed the benefits they have received through HLAA membership. The students were invited to attend upcoming local HLAA chapter meetings and were encouraged to familiarize themselves with HLAA. Further, to recommend it to clients when they begin a practice.
The national HLAA "Your Decision" brochure was given to each of the students along with printed material about the Albuquerque chapter and a brochure of the chapter's nationally recognized Loop New Mexico initiative.
HLAA Albuquerque Chapter
Stephen O. Frazier
Five Point Outreach Program Attracts New Members
The HLAA Twin Cities Chapter recently initiated an effort to increase the number attendees at meetings and promote membership in HLAA. Leaders know that membership is a constant issue with organizations so the chapter officers developed a plan to be pro-active in reaching new people.
Our Outreach Program included five elements:
- Advertising - We took out 1/2 page ads over several months in suburban newspapers. Those ads attracted new people. In addition, the sales person we worked with said: "This is a great story, I will ask a reporter to interview your president". That led to a front page story in several suburban newspapers.
- Brochures and Flyers - We had 1000 tri-fold color brochures printed. They were placed in audiologists and doctor's offices; also at churches and at other organization’s meetings. We also had several hundred colored flat flyers printed. Those were placed on bulletin boards in area Park and Community Centers, in offices, churches and other locations.
- Internet Support - The HLAA TC website was upgraded and redesigned, and we added a Facebook page.
- Educational Outreach - Members of HLAA-Twin Cities promoted the chapter while doing presentations on hearing loss for a variety of groups.
- Exhibits at Expos and Conventions - Large colored posters about hearing loss were designed and printed. HLAA materials were distributed. Information on how to get support for hearing loss was shared at events focused on audiology, health and wellness, etc.
The outreach efforts of HLAA TC have resulted in quite a number of new faces at chapter meetings. We find there is a delayed response. Some people will come soon after they see an advertisement or flyer, while others think about it for a while before they attend.
Topics that have been successful at meetings include: technology, feelings and emotions about hearing loss, and legislative issues that relate to hearing loss. We sometimes use the 2nd hour of our meetings for open discussion where participants discuss and share tips on coping well with hearing loss, sharing information on new devices and other related topics. We always ask new people for input on topics that interest them, and welcome their ideas for the chapter.
HLAA Twin Cities (Minnesota)
Ross Hammond, Membership Chair
Royal Oak Michigan Chapter Takes Pride in Participation
HLAA Royal Oak (Michigan) Chapter prides itself on its members having a strong involvement at the state level. Several chapter members are on the HLAA Michigan Board. We also participate fully in major events such as the HLAA Michigan Annual Meeting held each April, and the SE Michigan Walk4Hearing held in May. Our chapter's walk team “The Royal Oak Rowdies”, is a major walk fundraising team. The team has consistently placed 2nd, and brings in funds to provide CART at every monthly meeting.
CART is a major meeting attraction and a reason for the people to keep returning and join HLAA. Many of our members have become very well informed about coping well with hearing loss, and appreciate meeting and interacting with other people who also have a hearing loss just like them. After listening to the stories of others, more and more chapter members have acted on decisions to get a cochlear implant.
Royal Oak Chapter regularly holds rap sessions at meetings to share information and provide support among members. On occasion a speaker will share information on assistive technology, safety matters, etc. Each December and June our family members join us for potluck dinners, which have proven to be a fun time for everyone.
The HLAA Royal Oak Chapter is located in Royal Oak, Michigan within the Metro Detroit area. Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of the month in the evening except November, July and August.
HLAA Royal Oak Chapter (Michigan)
Barbara Quart, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing, Support, Solutions … You are not alone.
The HLAA Sun Lakes (AZ) chapter began meeting in November, 2011. Sun Lakes is a very large retirement community and the need for hearing loss support is great. Thanks to the Friends of the Library we are able to meet in a large library room with audio/visual equipment provided. During our first year CART was provided pro bono by a very generous captioner, remotely from Tucson. Second year CART was granted to us by the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This year we are able to pay for CART through membership dues and generous donations.
We do PR through local newspapers, audiologist and hearing aid dispenser offices, and senior centers. We meet once a month from October through May with attendance anywhere between 30 and 50. Many of our members are winter visitors to Arizona.
We have been fortunate to have excellent speakers with a variety of interests and specialties. We have welcomed professors from Arizona State University for programs on innovations in hearing aids, balance disorders, and audiology mission trips to Africa. Speakers from the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing have brought us excellent programs on the ADA, hearing loss in medical situations, and traveling with hearing loss. Programs on captioned telephone services were popular as well as presentations on hearing dogs. The psycho-social impact of hearing loss was discussed by a psychologist and two audiologists have addressed our group on hearing aid satisfaction. Coming up are talks on the cost of hearing aids and tinnitus.
Our members interact and ask questions of our speakers and freely share their own experiences. There is much support during the meetings and the social time when refreshments are enjoyed. Over time our board of four (two co-leaders, treasurer, hospitality chair) have been joined by volunteers to help with AV and refreshment set-up, sign-in, records keeping, etc.
Our goal is to provide an inviting and safe venue for people with hearing loss and their family and friends. Coping with hearing loss can be a lonely journey until one meets others who share the challenge. Support, friendship, and outreach will keep us strong as we grow our chapter.
HLAA Sun Lakes Chapter
Liz Booth, Co-leader
HLAA Fox Valley Chapter Has Fulfilling Year; Looks Forward to Another!
HLAA-Fox Valley (WI) ended the 2013 program year with a Christmas pot-luck gathering that attracted 33 people despite blowing snow and a subzero wind chill. (This is the frozen tundra, you know!) A total of 307 people attended the monthly chapter meetings this year compared to 251 for 2012, up 22.3% from 2012. This chapter takes a three month hiatus during the winter since so many members head south each winter. Chapter meetings will resume the second Monday in April. The board, meanwhile, will meet during the winter months to develop next year’s programs. For the second year, a professionally printed four-color poster listing 2014 programs and dates will be ready for chapter members to distribute in March. Plans are underway also for special events to observe our 30-year anniversary. A Cochlear Implant Support Group, which was started in January 2013, has grown from seven participants to 17. This subgroup provided the impetus for the board (with help from a few generous donors) to invest in a portable loop system now in use at monthly board meetings as well as at the CI meetings. Members in increasing numbers are making presentations to community groups on hearing loss, assistive technology, and the induction loop system. Our theme for next year: Keep the Momentum Going!
HLAA Fox Valley Regional Chapter (Appleton Wisconsin)
Betsy Foley, President, email@example.com
HLAA Advocates in Utah
We have several members in our HLAA chapter advocating for accessibility in our community. The first committee pulled together by chapter members was called the Popcorn Coalition, who later changed their name to Utah-CAN (Communication Access Network). They worked hard to get open captioned movies and then when theaters switched to digital format, they pushed to get the CaptiView devices in the theaters. Members also worked to get captioned performances at live theater and most recently, worked with our university stadium to get captions at football games. Because of these efforts, one of our members was allowed to represent the needs and interests of hard of hearing people on the Homeland Security Special Needs Committee.
Last fall, a few of our members helped create the Loop Utah movement. With an energetic committee, they looped the stage area at the Sanderson Center's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Festival. They also looped an information booth where many people were able to try a hearing loop for the first time. Many signed up right away to stay in touch with Loop Utah. Currently this ambitious committee is working to get in the door to the Sundance Festival, hoping to loop at least one show. They will attend the Utah Speech-Language Hearing Association convention in March 2014 to present on hearing loops and provide another looped information booth.
In addition, two people from HLAA Salt Lake City Chapter sit on the Advisory Council, representing hard of hearing needs for the state of Utah. This advisory council has a liaison to the Rehabilitation Advisory Council and supports the work of Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities.
We are blessed with active members who want to make a difference in our community.
HLAA – Salt Lake City UT
Mission Viejo Chapter Acquires Looping
The City of Mission Viejo has installed a wireless looping system in our meeting room at the Norman P. Murray Community Center, Mission Viejo, CA. We are excited that this was all done by our city to reach people with hearing loss.
We wonder how many other cities have done this for a HLAA Chapter meeting room. The room can also provide access for people with hearing loss who are taking classes or attending other activities at that center.
Our Chapter met with the Facilities Department of the City to do this, and it took several months to get the final looping accomplished.
HLAA Mission Viejo Chapter
Mission Viejo, CA
Priscilla (Pril) Kirkeby, firstname.lastname@example.org
Growing Our Newsletter
When I became chapter president, the meeting announcements were mailed out to all members. They were one paragraph about the upcoming meeting on a sheet of paper (usually two months at a time).
Over time, I began to add a bit more, such as asking for input requested by the next speaker. Eventually I went to a two-column format, changing the title to Announcements and News. I put in bits from "This Month in Bethesda" and added in a summary of the previous meeting. I still did all of the writing myself.
Then I missed a meeting and asked someone to write a few paragraphs for the next mailing. She had a totally different style than I do! But I left it as she sent it to me, and people loved it. I find asking people to "write a couple paragraphs" seems to be much less intimidating than asking them to "write an article." I include things like the Culver's nearby getting a loop at their drive through window.
Having a few different people contributing to the newsletter in their own style makes it easier for a new person to write something. If I'm inspired and have time, I sometimes add clipart. By switching to email, for at least most of our mailing list, we cut the cost significantly, as well as freeing us up to make it as long as we please. At this point it's usually 2-4 pages.
HLAA Chicago North Shore Chapter
Liz Hupp, Liz@Hupp.com
Building a Quality Chapter
Thank you for asking us to participate in Spotlight. We are new and still finding ourselves. We have a lot of ideas, but a shortage of funds and volunteers at this point.
Our community outreach program has begun. We participated in one community services fair and are scheduled to participate in two more in the near future. I am always on the lookout for health fairs that we can participate in to get our name out in the communities and to make people aware of our existence. I am hopeful that a few of the University of Connecticut (UCONN) Audiology Doctorate students might join us at the coming events to do visual ear checks to attract attention to our booth.
Quality speakers on topics of current interest are an absolute must to retain guests and members from month to month. We have an advantage by having our meetings at the UCONN Speech and Hearing Clinic. The Audiology Program Director, Dr. Kathleen Cienkowski made a very good presentation on aural rehabilitation and working with your audiologist. Dr. Kristin Dilaj, also from the Audiology Program made an excellent presentation at our April meeting – Cochlear Implants 101. Our members were very much engaged by these programs and asked a lot of questions. Other engaging programs have been by Suzanne Guerrucci, a psychotherapist who talked with us about dealing with our negative feelings about our hearing losses, and our first speaker, Michelle Sangster from Relay CT and Sprint, caught the attention of members with her explanation of various telephone devices that are available and how to obtain free phone equipment through the state funded relay telephone service program. Next month Juliette Sterkens will be joining us to talk about looping.
It seems we are growing albeit slowly. We are attracting at least one new attendee each month, and we had our largest attendance for our April meeting. Dr. Dilaj gave an excellent presentation and helped to make a very good impression on the new guests, some of whom came from outside our normal service area.
We have a web site which is on a free hosting site which means lots of pop-up ads. I am hoping that we will be able to upgrade our web site and eliminate the ads soon. We have what I feel is one of the best Facebook pages for people with hearing loss. I update our page almost every day from a number of sources and post as much local information as possible. We get a newsletter out on a monthly basis.
We don’t press “members” or guests for membership fees or dues. We have a few people who have been very generous with the chapter so we have been able to get some equipment that we need. We get a steady stream of cash from the “50/50” drawing that we have at each meeting. Most winners have turned the winnings over to the chapter so the chapter is getting 100% of the pot rather than half.
Building a quality HLAA chapter is a slow, arduous process. We have an excellent Board that understands we are going to need time to get things in high gear. We are working for quality support, education, information, assistance and advocacy for our members. We seek out people who may need help rather than waiting for them to come to us, and we are slowly building a reputation of being the “go-to” place if you need help with a hearing loss. We have some of the best resources available that we could ever ask for. We have the support of UCONN Audiology Program and the support of some very distinguished people who are willing to pitch in and help anyone who needs help with their hearing loss. I am sure the chapter will reap the rewards and grow and prosper given time.
From Five to Thirty Attendees in Three Years
Attempting to jump start a sagging chapter, our state HLA organization engaged a high profile speaker and did a lot of publicity. Building on the high attendance of this initial meeting, we kept the momentum going. We asked our attendees what kind of meeting they preferred, and they overwhelmingly voted for having speakers, rather than activities or social events. Along with monthly speakers, we made sure to collect emails and contact information, and always send a notice to everyone about a week before our meetings. We are also lucky to have a member who is a very good outreach person, putting our name on the lists of hospitals, senior centers, colleges, and audiology offices.
To generate helpers to run the chapter, we announced at meetings what jobs needed filling, passed around a sign-up sheet, and waited patiently. (No arm-twisting.) Little by little, people began to sign up. So the secret to our success has been 1) interesting speakers, 2) good communication to members, and 3) patience and a smile.
Our growth and support over three years has been phenomenal!
HLA Bellevue Chapter
Linda Worley, BellevueHLA@comcast.net
Knowledge, Advocacy, Support and Tradition
The HLA San Diego Chapter is thriving having two hour monthly meetings of 20 to 30 attendees. We publish a monthly newsletter and maintain a website on which we post meeting agendas and newsletters.
Our president, Marilyn Weinhouse, books varied and qualified speakers who cover a full range of subjects that are compelling to people with hearing loss such as existing and future technology and devices, psychological ramifications, and available services in the area. For example, in April, San Diego State University audiology students come in to discuss “Going to the Hospital with your Hearing Loss" with us. In May, Jonah Kohn, the teen who won the Google Science Fair award in the 13 to 14 year age group will discuss his winning project of providing people with hearing loss an improved experience with music. Some of our members had participated in his study. Our monthly programs are listed at: http://hearinglosssandiego.org/home/programs_for_meetings
Our members want to learn and grow. We find instructors to teach speech reading and sign language classes. Members want to talk with each other, so we try to find time at each meeting for group discussion and healthy break times so people can chat on a one to one basis. Our members want a sense of family and we support each other as such. We maintain family traditions during the holidays including Thanksgiving with all the trimmings and a Holiday White Elephant Gift Exchange combined with enthusiastic singing.
We focus on growing the group because it is the new people who have never had a support group that remind us of our purpose and inspire us to mentor. To do this, our members volunteer to "man” HLAA booths in various venues. We advertise through our website and newsletters. We get new members who first attend our classes.
Our San Diego Chapter has been active for many years and the last few years have been very gratifying with strong leadership with Marilyn as president and Larry Sivertson dealing with meeting logistics and communications. The board is engaged and our membership participates each as they are able. Our speakers often comment during our discussions how knowledgeable and supportive our group is.
We know we will always have challenges in keeping the ball rolling, but for now we are enjoying the synergy of Knowledge, Advocacy, Support and Tradition.
Person to Person
HLA Renton Chapter meets in the Renton Sr. Activities Center. We have a core group of 6-8 members. Our group consists of people with hearing aids and those with CIs. We have been hard of hearing for many years and have found HLAA to be very helpful personally and want to pay it forward. New people usually hear about us through the Center's brochure or occasionally the local paper. We have the support of the facility staff, but rarely have accommodations other than pocket talkers or personal FM systems.
I think, despite our size, we are successful primarily because of our shared experiences, friendly attitudes, and flexibility. We wear nametags and give copies of Hearing Loss Magazine, our state newsletter "Sound Waves," a communication tip sheet and questionnaire to people who drop-in. Even if we have a program scheduled that day, we always take time to address the reason our visitor came and invite them to come again and consider joining HLAA. We have used HLAA DVDs as conversation starters, have had local audiologists, other members and even the local fire chief do presentations.
Glenda Philio, email@example.com
In order to get the word out to the community about our Virginia Beach Chapter we have tried to "brand" our logo as we participate in various events. At a recent bowling fundraiser all members had a T-Shirt with HLAA Virginia Beach. I have ordered golf shirts and long sleeve shirts where the members can purchase a shirt at cost for their own use. This sometimes helps while traveling to ensure appropriate accommodation and assistance particularly at airports. As a reward to the chapter, I have given all HLAA registered members a baseball cap with our chapter logo on the front. We want everyone to know who we are.
Progressing with Pride
Our Denver Chapter is doing well. We are fortunate to be afforded excellent free meeting space at the Englewood Public Library on the 4th Saturday of most months. We have been able to have highly qualified meeting speakers on various topics of interest. The topics are selected through a member interest survey about programs of greatest interest. The chapter has two social events a year, a picnic in August and a holiday party in December at a member's clubhouse. Both events are well attended.
Bernie Steinberg is not only our Vice President, but more importantly, serves with distinction as Advocacy Chair for the chapter. In that capacity he has been appointed as representative for people with hearing loss to the Community Relations Council for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He is a representative in the community for persons with disabilities. He provides invaluable input to respective theater and concert venues on enhancements needed to the assistive listening systems in place. Bernie also recently attended the national HLAA seminar on ALD’s, following which he gave a very informative presentation to the chapter on information gained from the seminar.
HLA Denver Chapter
Dave Conant, Dconant2279@msm
Leadership Training of Members
Many people with hearing loss are shy and lack experience leading a meeting or calling on community organizations for speakers. Each HLA Pittsburgh board member is requested to be responsible for one monthly meeting each year. They have to decide on a topic or program, contact a speaker, follow up and ensure equipment is obtained, do the introduction, and send a thank you note. Other members and officers provide assistance. Each year the members become more confident and it means there are more people able to continue the Chapter.
HLA Pittsburgh Chapter
Teresa Nellans, Nellanst@aol.com
This year has been a year of devastating loss for the St. Louis Chapter as several of our members have died, but we have persevered. We successfully completed our fourth walk, kept our Chapter going by having interesting programs, recruited new members through the new cochlear support group in the St. Louis area, actively looked for a public venue to install a loop system, and inspired by our program on looping, we had a Chapter member go to her church and convince them to install the first loop system in a church in the area. It has been a successful year because we have a dedicated group of members who believe in our organization and want to see it continue to grow and thrive. There is no special formula except the dedication of the Hearing Loss Association of Greater St. Louis members.
HLA Greater St. Louis Chapter
St. Louis, Missouri
Mary Stodden, MaryStodden@att.net
Growing Our Chapter
Growing our chapters is something we all want to do. Reinventing the wheel is something we don‘t have to do. Here are some things that have worked well for us in the New York City Manhattan Chapter. The very first on the list is an idea shared years ago by Sue Miller, founder of the Rochester (NY) Chapter. We would love to hear what has worked for you.
Treat newcomers as you would party guests in your home. Welcome them at the door, introduce them to someone else, and give a little hint of something to start the conversation going before walking off to greet another. Make sure they know where the refreshment table is. Say goodbye when they leave. We have found that we need to systematize this because we are so pleased to see our pals once a month that we too easily forget to be as welcoming as we might.
Give people something to do. Even if it is only something small – setting up chairs, putting chips in a bowl, handing out agendas. We don’t like to feel that we have walked into a closed group and we all love to feel that we are contributing. As people become more committed, they will want to take on more complex jobs.
Make your meetings accessible. Proceeds from the walk allowed us to loop our meeting space and hire a captionist for our meetings. This has been a huge boon to our membership. We have many people who joined once we had CART, including some of our most important leaders. If you don’t have a walk in your area to fund CART, do everything possible to raise the money.
Listen for ideas and enthusiasms and pick up on them. We have lots of things going on in the Manhattan Chapter and they all started because someone was passionate about doing them. Did we start them all at once? No we didn’t. They have evolved gradually as our membership and chapter participation have grown.
Be flexible. We don’t have to do things the way they have always been done. If you are having trouble getting one person to do a job, asking two to pair up often works. We carried this idea into the governance of the chapter, forming a Planning Committee (PC). This structure arose ten or more years ago because the chapter was unable to find new people willing to be president and vice president. The committee meets once a month, two weeks before our general meeting. For a while, even the planning committee meeting chair rotated monthly among the members. More recently, we have had one person who has functioned as chair of the PC and as chapter leader. Most significant, members who have joined the chapter within the last five years make up half the PC.
And most important, enjoy. Your enthusiasm is contagious. People will want to stick with you.
Perseverance + Loyalty = 30 Years of Self Help
Thirty years ago an audiologist with a vision started a self-help chapter at Albany Medical Center. Over the years a loyal core of members developed and is still active to this day. In May we are holding our 30th Anniversary party! It’s been an awesome ride with many ups and downs along the way.
In addition to the core of members and the members who have come and gone over the years, HLA Albany owes its success to being able to put its finger on the pulse of the people with hearing loss and anticipate their needs.
We've held programs on hearing aids and assistive devices, college and career programs featuring successful persons with hearing loss, and more recently, held a very successful program on the Loop Initiative. A special program on Emergency Services for persons with hearing loss presented by local emergency personnel was very well-attended. We also offered a well-attended program on advocating for students with hearing loss that included presentations by a lawyer, a PEPNet (Postsecondary Education Programs Network, a system of programs that link young people to work and education promoting a successful transition to adulthood) representative and a social worker who showed ways to navigate the educational path including IEPs (Individual Education Programs) and advocating for yourself.
Part of our success is due to coordinating our programs with the local ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) organization and Hands and Voices – the local group for parents of children with hearing loss – to provide programs of interest to professionals and the public and to reach more persons with hearing loss.
We have participated in health fairs and handed out brochures and answered questions. Some of our members go to senior centers and libraries to talk about coping with hearing loss.
We are working on offering scholarships to college-bound and summer camp-bound students.
We have a website, brochure and business cards, and we also publish the Hear News newsletter ten months out of the year to a membership of around 100, plus complimentary copies to senior centers and libraries. We also participate in the Walk4Hearing.
We host a summer picnic and a December holiday party where we provide a signing Santa and gifts for the children.
We couldn't have done or continue to do all this without the loyal, unpaid, closely-knit group of volunteers who have joined our chapter throughout the years. They have weathered the highs and lows, attended the business meetings, made the plans, hosted the meetings and handed out brochures. Loyal volunteers and outreach efforts do everything for a chapter.
Lions Lighthouse to the Rescue!
The HLA Atlanta Buckhead Chapter meets in the Cathedral Towers, a HUD senior citizen housing on the grounds of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip. The HLAA attendees living here are low income to qualify for HUD housing. That doesn't dampen their thirst for information on coping with their hearing loss!
We invited the Lions Lighthouse Foundation (LLF) to address this group. Many associate the Lions Clubs with providing eyeglasses to needy folks; however, 10% of its budget is designated for hearing aids!
The LLF representative explained the application process (they require a current hearing test and proof of income) and happily answered individual questions/concerns.
This program proved to be very beneficial for our attendees! One member was fitted with two brand new digital hearing aids for $120!
An exciting outgrowth of these presentations was a meeting set up specifically for the Russian residents of the Cathedral Towers, translator included. Hearing loss knows no language barriers.
Invite the Lions Lighthouse Foundation to one of your chapter meetings. Support them and they'll support you as well!
Small in Numbers but Energies Astounding
The Frederick County Chapter membership is small - 20 members in fact - with 10 to12 in attendance at our monthly meetings that consist of coffee time, a special program and a business session. We meet at a Retirement Village and have attracted three residents to join us. This year we participated in four area Health Fairs all of which we know touched some lives. We made brochures for our Chapter, obtained materials from HLAA, purchased pens to giveaway as well as greeted everyone who passed by our table which was attractively decorated with flowers and “take one" brochures. Many left with new info about hearing loss.
We felt that where we planted a seed, time will let is sprout. We are in hopes that this effort will be of some assurance to those with hearing loss that we are in the area to be of assistance. Just waiting for the sprouts to start growing!
Frederick County Chapter
Mary Frances Gosnell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hear, There, Everywhere!
The Gainesville Chapter gets involved in many avenues of hearing loss and awareness.
The Chapter participates with the University of Florida once a week to teach the Learning to Live with Hearing Loss class. It is free, accessible and fun! Participants often keep in touch by email to ask for more info or to say hello. The Chapter also helps host the Signing Santa for a local elementary school (along with the Pilot Club).
A cruise in December was geared towards accessibility and understanding via CART. Many other passengers from around the country took notice of the words and it was announced in the last show by the cruise director who tested it as he spoke! Networking with various Loop businesses is an ongoing project. Busy...hear, there...everywhere!
HLA Gainesville Chapter
Lynn Rousseau, HLAFlorida@aol.com
New Strategies Lead to Rewards
The Montgomery County, Maryland, Chapter is based in a metropolitan area where people are busy. For years we met on weeknight evenings and despite excellent programs, our membership was static. New people would come but not come back. Much of this was probably attributable to workers having long commutes, getting home late and older people who do not like, or are unable, to drive at night.
The chapter operates with a steering committee of six to eight members. This works very well for us. Everyone takes on some task so no one person has more to do than they can easily handle. About a year ago the committee agreed to try Saturday morning meetings to see if – by chance – it would make a difference in attendance. The result surprised all of us because now so many people attend that we almost run out of chairs.
We are all reenergized because success prevents burnout! We even have people who are volunteering to join the steering committee and others offering to help in other ways. In sum, trying new strategies can have rewards.
Montgomery County (MD) Chapter
Hollace Goodman, Steering Committee Member, email@example.com
Friendship Chapter: Where Lifelong Friendships are Created by
People with Hearing Loss, their Spouses, Family and Friends
We are in our 27th year of continuous meetings which have created long time friends. We provide CART and ALD's. We have a Tour Guide System with individual headsets for use when trips to various places are not hearing accessible.
We have name tags for all and always have a display table with brochures, literature, and various information for handouts. We end our meetings with social time when members can become better acquainted.
Speakers are invited to keep us up to date on the latest hearing loss technology as well as speakers on other health related issues which many have. Hearing loss does not mean we are not susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, vision, safety issues, etc.
Community involvement and creative awareness is a goal we seek with presentations, health fairs, town hall meetings, working with other disability groups as well as our volunteer efforts at conferences and conventions to provide resources necessary for living life with hearing loss.
For various reasons, many are unable to attend our meetings, but they rely on our monthly newsletter to keep up with the activities of our chapter and National HLAA. Our members enjoy the updates on activities locally and the personal touch in our newsletters of member's news, birthdays/anniversaries, and various family events. The newsletter goes out by postal mail or electronic mail, to all members, state chapters, agencies and medical professionals.
Our Hospital Kits Project has been on-going for the past 10+ years and we've filled orders for about 2000 hospital kits since the beginning. The kits are sent to locations around the world. Many health professionals, hospitals and clinics have used the kits and copied them for their use.
Over the years we have been blessed with wonderful acceptance from the community. We are looking forward to the future to continue to be here for all who face the challenges of living successfully with their hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Association of San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
Barbara Hunter, firstname.lastname@example.org
HLA-GR: "A Safe Place"
The Hearing Loss Association of Greater Richmond is a small but very active chapter located in Richmond, Virginia. We have approximately 25 dues paying members. However, our chapter is very fortunate to have the support, financial and otherwise, of many audiologists in the Greater Richmond area, as well as the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH), and a number of assistive technology vendors. As a result of these associations, we are able to make our meetings as hearing friendly as possible for our members and guests. We meet 10 times a year either at an area church or VDDHH. Our lending library is small, but stocked with excellent books, videos, and DVDs. We have a varied collection of assistive devices that can be borrowed by our members for their personal or professional use.
We have a variety of speakers and activities throughout the year. We participate in assistive technology evaluation programs, hearing screenings, and health fairs. Group social events include apple picking in the fall, hard of hearing and deaf bowling tournaments, and pot-luck luncheons. We frequently "adjourn" our meetings to a little family owned pizzeria close to our meeting location. When our finances permit, we participate in the HLAA Walk4Hearing and attend HLAA conventions, as well as conferences and seminars across the state.
Our members and guests frequently say that our chapter is a safe place to come and share experiences and ask questions. That is part of the attraction of our chapter. We make every effort to put everyone at ease and let them know they are always welcome. We are a casual group, as well as very chatty...qualities that lend themselves to an easy, friendly atmosphere.
We are a close-knit group that loves to open its arms to new people and their experiences, advice, and questions. HLA-GR is truly a safe place for the hard of hearing, deaf, and deaf-blind communities in the Greater Richmond area...a place where they quickly learn that they "are not alone."
Hearing Loss Association of Greater Richmond
Linda T. Wallace, GRHearingLoss@comcast.net
The Chicken or the Egg: How to Grow a Chapter when Volunteer Resources Are Limited
The topic of our recent board meeting was how to streamline our current behind-the-scenes work while gaining more members. We have six board members and an average of 25 people attending our meetings. Our board members have all the work they can handle; so we need more volunteers to do more outreach and increase our membership and gain more volunteers. We know that PR work is our most important focus, but no one can do more.
The first thing we decided was to streamline some of our current work. Our resource table needed to be pared down so it's manageable but still informational. It takes too much time to set up and take down, time that could be spent talking with new attendees and making them feel like they're part of the group.
Our flyer announcing our next meeting topic needed to be reformatted to reach more people and take less time to create. We feel it's important to not only describe the next meeting topic but to provide topic information for the following month, so we were writing full descriptions using Arial 12 pt font. When we posted the flyers on bulletin boards, the 12 pt font wasn't always readable; the page was crowded and had way too much verbiage. People weren't attracted to it. Now we use a 14 pt font which leaves less space for lengthy descriptions so it's easier to write. The announcement is much easier to read, especially on a bulletin board and consequently much more inviting. We create just a tickler for the following month's meeting. Overall, more people will read our announcements; we'll spend less time creating them and hopefully our attendance will increase.
We're looking for a bulk email server so it will be easier for us to send large group emails. We want to be able to send out informative articles throughout the month as well as our monthly flyer. Putting our chapter information in front of people on a regular basis will hopefully increase attendance at our meetings and lead to more involved volunteers.
We're creating a website to increase our online presence. It will be simple but informational. We're creating business cards for our board members so they can recruit people individually. We're beefing up our existing Facebook page to get more people involved on a social level.
Overall, we're hoping that these changes will help re-energize the board members by making their involvement less time consuming. Even more so, we're hoping that our membership will increase and, consequently our number of volunteers and our ability to perform outreach. We're hoping to create a self-feeding circle. Wish us luck!
Lisa Zovar, email@example.com
Reach Like the Fountain
I would like to share some of the things that we do in the Fountain Hills Chapter that have led to over six years of outreach to the hearing loss community. It's important to recognize the two ladies who served as co-leaders for the first few years of this group, Rosemary Tuite and Barbara Daly. They began some traditions that remain to this day.
Presently we have an excellent board comprised of a president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, hospitality chair, and records chair. Our board meets twice yearly with new business conducted via e-mail when necessary.
Our members and friends/guests are alerted to our monthly meetings (September-May) through a flyer sent by e-mail or snail mail (printing is generously provided by a member), followed by another friendly reminder a few days before the meeting. Meeting information is also published in the local newspaper.
Local members have permanent nametags to wear during the meetings. People take turns providing refreshments during the social time. It's important for all to feel a sense of ownership for the group, as well as a personal connection.
The Fountain Hills Community Center has generously provided us with a looped meeting room and AV equipment. Jennifer Schuck is our devoted CART provider who has shared her time and talents since the chapter's beginnings. We also have headsets available, so accessibility is truly guaranteed.
Our programs vary. We have a full member discussion agenda at least one month each year and always leave time for questions and concerns at the end of meetings. Our group loves to share stories and offer help and support to others. We sometimes pose a question related to individual experiences with hearing loss and members respond in writing. Comments are shared at a later date.
Our speakers have been generous with their time and truly inspiring. We welcome presenters from the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, communication in medical settings, theater/movie accessibility, our rights under the ADA, Deaf culture, ASL, professors from the speech and hearing department at Arizona State University, choosing a hearing healthcare provider and a hearing aid, balance issues, audiological mission trip to Africa, opportunities to participate in hearing research, audiologists, ENT/Oto-Neurology doctors, hearing dog trainers, psychologists for people with hearing loss, representatives from captioned telephone companies, and the local fire department chief. Several years ago we were fortunate to have Brenda Battat address our group.
We try to keep our members up to date on various hearing loss issues and activities. We talk about national HLAA and encourage participation in the annual conventions. We announce local opportunities relating to living with hearing loss, and welcome occasional presentations by our local members with expertise on a certain topic. There is always a table full of brochures, Hearing Magazines, etc. Most are ordered from national HLAA. We love to have visitors and guests and ask them to introduce themselves. Although we encourage local and national membership, all are always welcome.
Currently we are collecting old hearing aids which will be donated to the speech and hearing department of Arizona State University. These will be refurbished and taken to Malawi, South Africa for distribution next summer.
There are six HLA chapters in the state of Arizona, coordinated by Ginny Clarke-Wright. Our goal is always outreach. The fountain in the center of town could be a metaphor for our goal as it reaches to the sky. We are continually looking for ways to reach people with hearing loss. Our message is meet, greet, eat, connect, learn, and share. With over 700,000 in the hearing loss community in our state, we will be busy for a long time!
HLA-Arizona/Fountain Hills Chapter
Fountain Hills, Arizona
Liz Booth, firstname.lastname@example.org
Focus on Community Events
Our chapter had a change of officers a few months ago, so we are just beginning our terms. But one thing we've done a lot of in the past few months is take part in and/or visit community events, especially those focused on aiding the handicapped in some way - like providing information about assistive listening devices for people with hearing loss.
Our Chapter Vice President Vickie Pacheco and I met with people who work in this field and we have given them information and literature about our chapter. We are finding that they are telling people who come to them for help about our chapter. At last month's meeting, we had three new people attend after hearing about us from three different people or agencies. They contacted us and we were happy to provide more information and pleased to see them at our meeting. We plan to continue this outreach, spreading the word to more people who may benefit just as our current members have. We have also visited local audiologists, leaving packets of information about our chapter.
HLA-Colorado Springs Chapter
Colorado Springs, CO
Pauline Weiss, email@example.com
Wayne/Holmes County Chapter to Offer Hearing Health Support
We are in the process of creating an application form to help someone with the costs of either a hearing test or hearing aid. We are hoping to distribute these applications to various hearing health centers in the Wayne/Holmes county areas. Our hope is to make the public somewhat aware that our organization exists for support.
HLA of Wayne/Holmes County Chapter
Margaret Latta, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lives Touching Lives
The Brevard Chapter is the result of a dream that Rosemary Tuite and I had of bringing Hearing Loss Association to our area of North Carolina. We announced a planning meeting in March of this year and were a bit dismayed when only two people came. The good news was that one of those two people was an HLAA member who agreed to be the 4th individual we needed to start a chapter. The other of those two people was a CART reporter who offered her services to us at no cost. We were delighted that we were able to proceed with the paperwork to become a chapter.
Our first official meeting was in April. Attendance has been good thanks to the coverage we've gotten in two local newspapers (we're working on a third) and flyers we've posted. Programs we've had so far include presentations from an audiologist from Western Carolina University, CaptionCall and Sprint CapTel of NC. We also devoted a program to Communication Strategies, and another meeting focused on hearing loss from the perspective of our hearing family members.
We strive to have a portion of every meeting be interactive so everyone has an opportunity to be involved. It's been so rewarding to witness enthusiasm and tears as people express their gratitude at finding others who relate to their struggles. One member was so impressed that he applied to his former employer, IBM, for a $500 Community Service grant to support the efforts of the Brevard Chapter. The grant was approved!
In January of 2013 we plan to start a monthly "5 Minute Focus" where we'll invite one member to share his or her story during the meeting. Future speakers include a presenter on loops, HLA-NC President Julie Bishop, a speaker from Cochlear Americas and another from MedEl.
Yes, this chapter has been a lot of work and time consuming, but we are having SO much fun!
HLA - Brevard Chapter
Kathy Borzell, email@example.com