Two staff members from Hearing Whanganui have been recognised with awards at a Hearing New Zealand conference in Hamilton attended by representatives from all branches around the country. The conference was held from May 13 to 15.
Volunteer Alex (Alexandra) Goodwin and Hearing Educator Tracey Jones received awards for Volunteer of the Year and Frontline Person of the Year.
"Of the four awards presented, Whanganui received two," says Tracey.
Tracey says Alex is a tireless volunteer, doing all she can to help Hearing Whanganui, as well as devoting some of her time to the Cancer Society. A true Whanganui volunteer.
Alex learned sign language with Shona Beamsley, enjoyed it, then was asked if she would like to be on the board of Hearing Whanganui. Through her sign language lessons she was able to see just what hearing impaired people have to put up with and how the public see them.
One of the staff members has been trying to get a cochlear implant, and it was Alex who became her advocate, contacting the local MP and even the Government to get help. To raise funds for the implant Alexapproached artists and organised a giant art auction and, along with other efforts, so far has raised more than $23,000.
All this, as well as her usual fund raising for Hearing Whanganui. The centre is funded by grants, donations, membership and fund raising drives.
"She'll go to businesses and ask — the worst they can do is say no," says Tracey.
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Tracey's job is busy, with visits to schools and rest homes, repairing hearing aids (a skill that came in handy at conference), advising people how to reduce hearing loss through her Dangerous Decibels programme, among many other things. She also takes basic sign language classes and is still learning herself through lessons with sign language tutor, Shona Beamsley. She says it's quite a moving experience when you can communicate with someone, and they are comfortable with you.
She also teaches other people how to communicate with people who are hard of hearing: simple things like speaking clearly, facing the listener … and not shouting!
Tracey makes everyone feel welcome when they come in to the centre: her bubbly personality makes everyone feel at ease, giving them a positive experience of Hearing Whanganui.
She edits the newsletter, does the accounts and budgets and applies for grants.
Tracey is the organiser of Hearing Whanganui's fundraising high teas, but, as she says, she tends to go overboard. People love them.
She has been 10 years at the centre and says the board is very supportive.
"We all work together for one cause, and that is to help the hearing impaired."
Hearing Whanganui provides a variety of services including education to prevent hearing loss, ear cleaning, advice on hearing equipment and hearing aid supplies, rest home visits for elderly hearing support, hearing protection education in schools, sign language classes and free ear checks. They do not sell hearing aids thereby retaining a non-partisan approach to the commercial aspect of hearing loss. Hearing Whanganui was formed in 1944 and has an office and clinic at 35 Dublin St.