Our annual fund is essential to the success of our programs. The money we raise each year for this fund helps young men and women who are deaf or hard of hearing attend college. It helps educate graduate students pursuing degrees in communicative disorders. It gets programming out into our communities nationwide about preventing hearing loss. It educates hearing health professionals so they can do even better work in our communities. It supports nonprofit programs in the area of hearing health.
That’s an impressive list, and each area the Annual Fund supports allows Sertoma to fulfill its national mission, which is to improve the lives of people who are at risk of or who are impacted by hearing loss. We are one of the only organizations in the country addressing this national health crisis — the hearing health crisis — and our results speak for themselves.
Over the past 10 years, we have raised more than $900,000 in scholarship money for the Hard of Hearing and Deaf Scholarship and the Communicative Disorders Scholarship. This means we helped support the education and change the lives of 900 promising students.
Last year alone, we awarded 33 community grants to facilities through our Adopt-an-Agency program. This means we are supporting programs across the country so these facilities will be better able to serve their patients and communities.
As of this writing, one new looping project has recently been completed in Minot, N.D., and the 2015 national Sertoma service project — looping the chapel at the Duhram VA Medical Center in Durham, N.C. — is close to completion. With these and other A Sound Investment® projects, we are helping to make the world accessible for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. This means people who have issues with their hearing can live in a world filled with more sounds than they ever imagined and take part in public events in their communities alongside their friends, families and neighbors.
Since its inception, our SAFEEars!® program has helped countless young people and adults learn how to protect their hearing and take action against noise-induced hearing loss. This means we are making communities more hearing healthy, one class at a time.
In addition, the fund supports other programming and public awareness campaigns, all designed to support those with hearing issues and make our communities hearing healthy.
Why Give More?
Our work in hearing health is essential. And we haven’t fulfilled our mission until we live in a country where everyone at risk of or impacted by hearing loss has a better quality of life.
Right now, we have more applicants for scholarships than we can provide. The Communicative Disorders Scholarship alone received more than 140 applications last year. As long as we are turning away qualified scholarship applicants, we haven’t yet fulfilled our mission.
Through our Adopt-an-Agency program, we have applicants for community and professional education grants that we are not able to fulfill. As long as we are turning facilities and industry professionals away, we aren’t doing as much as we can in service to our mission.
In this country, most public spaces are accessible for people with physical disabilities but not for those who have hearing loss. We cannot stop working until all the auditoriums, civic spaces, health facilities, museums, places of worship, symphony halls and other public spaces across the country are looped.
We can reach even more young people and adults with our SAFEEars!® program. Until people of all ages understand the dangers to their hearing and the simple steps they can take to preserve it, we haven’t fulfilled our mission.
We can still do more, and we are called to do more.
The Annual Fund is the key that will open the door to more access to the world, more understanding of hearing health issues, more support for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and more awareness about how hearing health issues are everyone’s health issues.
Let’s do more this year.
Debby Larsen Sertoma President