10,000+ Sertoman’s Stories = Endless Possibilities

Larsen, DebbyAt our last National Convention our focus was on Story Telling. Not just any story but our story.  We heard how important it is to tell our story so that others become interested in Sertoma. So I thought this would be easy.  I had two great ideas but which one to pick. So here goes…

How many of you have had your hearing checked and it was fine? Then you have it checked again and find out it isn’t. I started by having my hearing checked at a regional convention. I thought I had done a good job and was very surprised when they indicated I should see a professional. Of course I didn’t – my hearing was just fine. The following year I attended another regional convention and they had a hearing booth/truck so I thought I would do it again. I still needed to see a professional. Two years went by and I finally made an appointment with my ENT. Results showed hearing loss in my left ear and I should be re-evaluated in six months. Of course I didn’t follow through in making an appointment.

Another two years went by when I finally called to make an appointment – not for a hearing test but for some ringing in my right ear. Now I had two problems: loss of hearing in my left ear and ringing in my right ear! My ENT told me that the ringing would either disappear or I would get used to it (not what I wanted to hear). Tests showed significant hearing loss in my left ear. Surgery might be able to correct it. I went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN where I met with Colin L. W. Driscoll, M.D., Chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology. (Isn’t that a mouth full?) After discussing my symptoms he suggested a scan of my ear – it’s a wonder what you can see on the screen! He showed me that my Stapes bone was not vibrating because of buildup of bone.

There were three suggestions made that day: 1) do nothing and live with the hearing loss; 2) use a hearing aid to help with the loss of hearing; or 3) have a stapedectomy.
We reviewed the three options. I made the decision to have the stapedectomy. A stapedectomy is ear surgery done to treat hearing loss caused by otosclerosis. Otosclerosis causes a buildup of bone around the stapes (stirrup bone). This buildup keeps the stapes from moving, resulting in a type of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. In surgery a prosthesis replaces the stapes. Of course we also covered all the things that could go wrong during and after surgery.

Decision made. I wanted the outpatient surgery as soon as possible, but I needed a driver. For someone who would rather be behind the wheel, this was tough.
I had surgery but needed to wait until August 6th for my hearing test. I was able to turn down my television and radio so I knew that my hearing had improved, but by how much? The doctor informed me that my left ear was almost as good as my right ear. The surgery was very successful!

My story doesn’t end here. As it turns out four of my five siblings have had the same surgery.  My brothers were first, then me and finally my one sister.  Will my other sister need the surgery, she doesn’t think so but at least there is a way to correct what we have.  Others are not that lucky but there is some help and Sertoma is here to educate and help with needs in the communities we are in.  Let’s tell our stories so that we can grow our organization.  We all have a story or two and we need to start telling others about what we do.  I suggested at my club meeting that we start contacting other organizations to be speakers.  You never know until you try it.  The goal is endless with 10,000+ Sertomans telling their story.

Debby Larsen
Sertoma President

If you have a story you would like to share, please send an e-mail to balmond@sertomahq.org

Year End Wrap-Up

Johnson, DavidOnce upon a time a young father-to-be joined a group of men to help St. Joseph, Missouri become a better community. He experienced a way people can come together from different walks of life and help their community. He learned how to serve as its President. He grew in knowledge and opportunities to become the District Governor and see clubs in the area and how they help their communities. He experienced a variety of cities that had Sertoma and many people whose lives had been touched and changed by the services received. Later he served on the Sertoma Foundation Board as a Trustee and worked with volunteers to merge the Foundation and Sertoma International into Sertoma, Inc.

In San Antonio, Texas and the national convention he was asked a simple question, “If not now, when?” It was a humbling exchange to see many past leaders and current national volunteers asking him this simple question. Why me? Why now? During this period of time, he knew why. He had reached the opportunity to become the board President for Sertoma. He looked back on many learning experiences, conventions, fall district meetings and national board meetings and it was time for this person to give back to Sertoma what it had given him over the past three decades.

I want to say, “Thank You”, to all for teaching me how to grow as a leader, for becoming the many individuals across this country that I truly call my friends. This experience has changed me more than you will ever know. I appreciate your time, efforts and energy in making Sertoma the best national organization. Lee, my wife, and I have enjoyed traveling this year to meet many fellow Sertomans and learn from you about your experiences. We have seen smiling faces from communities when serve pancakes or chili or impact a community of individuals with hearing loss through a looping project.

Thank you all. I have said to the national board, your headquarter staff, your Executive Director, what you give of your time and talents each and every day to strengthen Sertoma is sometimes overlooked. I appreciate each and every one that helped me become who I am today. Thank you!!!” Most of all, I want to thank Lee for allowing the time and energy from our lives for the past few years in this national leadership role. I love you for supporting this activity.

As I close my year as your national President, I am asking each of you, “If not now, when?” Is it time for you to become your club president, district Governor, national Director or is it time for you to say, “Yes, I would like to serve this great organization as the next national board President.” Until we meet again, God Bless!

David Johnson
Sertoma President

Start Working On Your Club Budget

BARTLEMAY,-Don5About this time each year clubs should be putting their budget together for the next year. The club treasurer puts together a preliminary budget that should be voted upon before July 1, 2015.

When drafting the budget it is important to reflect on the mission of the club and to set goals for the year that fulfill the mission.

As a member of a club, some tips you should consider for the budget:

  • Who are your club sponsorships?
  • How much does the club give each year?
  • Are we supporting Sertoma’s Hearing Health programs? Adopt-An-Agency or SAFEEars!®
  • How many events is the club holding?

The budget is your club’s financial road map for the year, there are always adjustments during the year, but your budget will give you a good idea where your club is going financially and what the club must do to meet those objectives.

The budgeting forms are available at http://www.sertoma.org/ClubManual

Promote Better Hearing & Speech Month

Larsen, DebbyWhen is Better Hearing & Speech Month?  What should we do as a club?  Why do anything?  I decided to Google “better hearing & speech month” and Google told me that there were 15,900,000 results.  All I could think was WOW!  I went on Pinterest and there were a lot of ideas for Better Hearing & Speech Month.  The word is out but not as much as it should be.

Each May Better Hearing & Speech Month gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about hearing health.  Michigan State University indicates that for over 75 years May has been the month designated as Better Hearing & Speech Month.  What better way is there to get the word out about the programs that Sertoma has to offer to help raise awareness of Hearing Health!

What are you waiting for – Sertoma supplies the tools – we need you to help implement them.  Programs such as SAFEEars! ®, CELEBRATE SOUND Don’t Walk in Silence®, and A Sound Investment-holding an informational meeting on looping.

“Everyone knows someone that has a hearing issue and needs help, or be informed where help is available.  Hearing is the number one health issue in men over 65 and number four in women.  Hearing loss over time breaks down communication and causes individuals to be isolated.  They no longer want to participate in activities.   Hearing loss affects high school students and it is irreversible.  May is a great way to promote our SAFEEars! program. ” This information came from last year’s article written by Don Bartlemay.

Like most people my age you are dealing with parents who are hard of hearing.  They first do not want to admit they can’t hear well.  After a lot of nagging, they finally get their hearing checked and find out that they need hearing aids.  Once they get them it can sometimes be a challenge to get them to wear them.

The more we educate people on the importance of hearing health the better off everyone will be.  I encourage every club to do something during May.  Make sure you take pictures and send an article into headquarters to be featured in a Sertoma communication piece.  Your event may prompt another club to do something next year during May.

Debby Larsen
Sertoma, Inc.

Writing the next chapter of Sertoma service and philanthropy


Do you want others to join you in Sertoma service and philanthropy?

There is once upon a time, stories of the good old days. There is also, once upon a time, imaginative stories where anything seems possible. Our future requires that we embrace both aspects of once upon a time.

Do you want others to join you in Sertoma service and philanthropy? Then you need to share your Sertoma story.  It is not a story of what you did, but of how helping others made you feel. People want good feelings in their life. If you have a story that touches them, they are going to want to know how to get that in their life.

If you want your club to be known, admired and supported, then you need to share your club’s story. Your club story does not begin with “we meet on Tuesday’s and do a pancake breakfast, and …”  That is a report. The support you seek, is not for the club but those you serve, so your club story is told in the voice of those you help. In the end you are asking people to join you in supporting people with need – so make those people, your story.

Our future depends on great stories about the feelings we have shared and experienced.  Our future requires stories of the difference we have made in the lives of people. Our future needs stories about what is possible as others share in our efforts.

It is why our convention in April is a focus on your story, your club’s story, and the next chapter of Sertoma service and philanthropy you want to write. Join us as we celebrate and plan our happily ever after.

Steven Murphy
Sertoma Executive Director

Service to Mankind & Sertoman of the Year

McArdle, Pat 08As we approach the fourth quarter of Sertoma it is time to celebrate with those in your club and community who have distinguished themselves in service to others. In other words, it is time to select a club Service to Mankind recipient and Sertoman of the Year. What better way to recognize the accomplishments of others by participating in this annual recognition process.

If you haven’t started, appoint a committee and seek out nominations from your area for those worthy of receiving your club’s Service to Mankind Award. You can find nominations for the award from your community. If you are out and working in the community, you will meet outstanding volunteers. After selecting the recipient you are encouraged to make this a special event by holding a dinner or reception inviting the general public and the recipient’s friends and family members to help recognize that special person who is making a difference in your community.

As the end of the year approaches it is also time to select your Service to Mankind award winner for your club; that outstanding member who has gone above and beyond in service to your club and community. Make the announcement and presentation something special. Recognize that great Sertoman’s hard work by other members of your club. It should encourage others to set their sights higher for the coming year. They might consider working for this very special recognition.

Remember that this is not just club recognition. Compose a worthy nomination and forward it to your District Governor before July 1 for consideration for the district awards. The Governors determine the district award winners and then submit them to your Region. Show your pride in recognizing these community leaders by participating in these two programs. Be proud to be a Sertoman.

Pat McArdle
Sertoma Treasurer


The most often asked question in Sertoma is “How do we get people to join?”  The answer to that is depends on the more important question of “Why, why does your club exists?”  In asking someone to join the club, volunteer for service, or donate you are asking them to share in your why. Identifying a strong, compelling connection to your why is how you get people to join or be involved.

The same is true if your club is struggling with a lack of energy and enthusiasm. Are the current members excited and engaged with the club’s why? If not, ask your members, ask yourself, what is the “why of your club?”  Does it excite you? Is it clear the difference it makes in your life, and in the community? Can you readily share that with others? If not then you know why you are not growing, and what you need to do.

The key is understanding that as a service organization, your why has to about service and philanthropy.  To be compelling, your service and philanthropy is shared as the outcomes it has in the lives of people and the community.  The strength of your why is defined by the scale and significance of those outcomes.  People who volunteer and donate, and especially those who join, are looking to be part of something larger and more important than they could possibly do alone.

So to answer the question “how do we get people to join?” (1) Identify your why.  If it is not clear, compelling, or strong – then recreate, reinvent, or define a new why.  That process can be a great way to engage with your members and others in the community.  (2) find a great story that tells your why – and the why of the club.  Not sure how?  Then come to the Sertoma 2015 Convention in April. (3) Share that story – get out of the club and into the community.  Don’t expect prospects to come to you and your meeting. The focus of a strong club is going to be out in the community, not in their meetings.

Not sure you believe this?  Look around, those clubs that are not struggling are clearly identified in their communities for what they do and who they help.  The members are excited and enjoy the work and expectations that make that happen, and that is attractive to potential members.  As a good friend shared with me – “If you understand your why, you can identify and manage the how to make that happen.”

Steven Murphy
Executive Director

Club Elections

BARTLEMAY,-Don5Electing good leaders for our clubs is one of the most important functions a Sertoma Club can do each year. Recruiting and recognizing good leaders for a club can be difficult and not to be taken lightly. A poor leader or leaders can stymie growth and the fulfillment of our Mission.

Election process for new officers should be underway for the 2015 – 2016 Sertoma year. Elections should take place in March, so our new leaders are in place by our Sertoma Convention in mid- April. Each club should make an effort to send the new Sertoma leaders to convention, for training and getting them started on the right foot for the functions they perform as a leader of their club.

I would encourage a committee of Past Presidents or experienced club leaders meet and work to recognize unique talents of individuals to fill positions in the club that will benefit both the individual and the club.

Every club should budget funds within the club’s means to send their leaders, particularly new leaders to conventions. Our leaders must be effective, and training will help achieve that goal. Please encourage your new leaders by supporting them financially and personally to attend convention in Raleigh, North Carolina.

We now have a plan: Get our new leaders in place and send them to convention for training. Following that we need to have two way communications with these leaders between them and Sertoma. Our home office needs to know who these leaders are for your club. I would challenge every club secretary to send in their Form 130, to Headquarters, copying their District Governor. We are only as good as the information we have. Old information on club leaders leaves all involved at a disadvantage. These forms which are available at www.Sertoma.org/forms, should be sent in as soon as possible following your club election.

Don Bartelmay
Senior Vice-President
Sertoma, Inc.

Little acts lead to big impact

me n grandpaSamantha Freer – a proud Sertoman and member of PLAY Sertoma Club– saw the Hearing Aid Donation project, as an opportunity to honor her grandpa, Sam McCoun, a selfless individual who always wanted to help others. Samantha shared that when she asked her grandma for her grandpa’s hearing aid to recycle, her grandma cried said that would be wonderful and grandpa would think that would be great. I know without a doubt he is super happy to be helping someone, even after his passing.

AND because Samantha shared her story with the nursing home, they have requested a Hearing Aid Donation display and brochures to help collect used hearing aids. Please honor your fellow Sertoman, promote the Hearing Aid Donation Project in your local community, and share the joy of hearing.


Come Join Me

Come join me in Raleigh, North Carolina for our annual meeting and convention.

Johnson, DavidApril is right around the corner and so is our convention and annual meeting. As we prepare for this event I would like us each to reflect on how we got to this point in life. How we became responsible adults, to know the difference between doing this or that, and what direction we should be go.

Many of us grew up with a mom and a dad telling us stories. Our parents would read to us at a young age the nursery rhymes that we in turn shared with our kids and grandkids. Many of us have heard stories from our relatives about the wars, The Great Depression, and other historical or familial events. So, I want to ask, “How many Sertomans have a rewarding experience to share? What is one fascinating thing your club does in your community? What exciting project do you do for fundraising? What other activities do you support in your hometowns? Can you tell your story? We need to be about Sertoma’s business of spread the exciting experiences happening in our communities.

Imagine now if we assembled hundreds of Sertomans and their stories, and shared them with one another. Could we start a movement? Perhaps change the world? Of course we could, and we have.

We need to do more to tell our story to the rest of the world. That is what April 16th -18th in Raleigh, North Carolina is all about. Plan to come and share your stories about the people you have made a difference in the lives. Learn how to put your story together and share Sertoma with the world around us.

Wishes Do Come True
In the summer of 2014, we learned from Sertomans about our organization. One thing became clear: the good work we do as Sertomans. We need to share our successes with others in our community. Our focus group participants, and others throughout Sertoma, have asked us for convention training that helps them become better communicators. Their wish was for more people to see and hear about the wonderful work Sertoma does in communities. Our Sertoma 2015 convention will help you tell YOUR stories and engage your community, while stimulating your creative juices. Bring a sharp pencil! You will not want to miss this and will want to write down every word. Whether you are active in communicating on behalf of your club or not, everyone will benefit from this year’s convention programming.

Who Should Attend

• Past, present and future leaders always benefit from sharing ideas with other leaders.
• Members who communicate club activities and events can learn about new tools and tactics from industry professionals.
• New Sertomans who want to fully understand the dynamic history of our organization will hear many of the stories that built our great organization.

I invite each of you to continue the positive Sertoma experience and join me and other Sertomans in Raleigh to learn, share and grow this 102 year old organization and expand our presence in our communities for our 2nd century of service.