RaRa gives Hearing and Speech reasons to cheer

Hearing and Speech Foundation keeps busy with full fall schedule

The fall has been anything but slow for volunteers at the Hearing and Speech Foundation.

Among other things, the foundation hosted its second annual Away Game Tailgate party fundraiser and an Interest Reception for potential new volunteers and board members. Foundation volunteers also are planning the upcoming RaRa Schlitt Art Show and Sale on Nov. 13, at The Capitol Theatre in Maryville.

At the reception, those attending got a sneak peek at some of the artwork to be sold at HSF’s upcoming RaRa Schlitt Art Show and Sale held this Thursday, Nov. 13, at The Capitol Theatre in downtown Maryville.

Local artist RaRa Schlitt will make a big impact for those in need through her generosity. She has graciously donated 55 of her paintings to the foundation to benefit the Indigent Care Program.

Schlitt has a unique style and she has been painting all summer to have a variety of original paintings to offer to the public, all to benefit the Hearing and Speech Foundation.

The event, at the beautiful and newly renovated Capitol Theatre has no admission charge. Patrons can bid on the artwork in a silent-bidding formula. Opportunities to learn more about the foundation will also be available that evening and light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

What lends itself to RaRa’s unique style is her inclusion, on every painting, a quote of humor, inspiration, or introspection. Her use of color is vibrant and her images are warm and playful. Her pieces have a “folk art” feel that are welcome additions to any décor and a good way to own original art.

Although the artwork will be sold in a silent auction, those wishing to purchase pieces immediately will be able to do so at a “Buy It Now” rate. All paintings will fall in the $35 - $175 range and will be available to take home once purchased. The RaRa Schlitt Art Show and Sale is from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

In today’s economy, where funds are harder to find but needs are greater, Hearing and Speech continues to look for ways to help those in need with creative fundraisers.

On Saturday, Sept. 27, foundation volunteers hosted the second annual Away Game Tailgate party held in what many considered a most unusual location - Neyland Stadium itself. Participants had the opportunity to tour the East Club, dine on delicious tailgate food, enjoy the handcrafted beer provided by Woodruff Brewing Company; and the University of Tennessee Volunteers take on the Auburn Tigers in Alabama.

Although the Vols didn’t fare well in the game, The Hearing and Speech Foundation did. Donations from the event were in excess of $25,000 and will be used to support the indigent hearing-impaired population living in Blount County and throughout East Tennessee with hearing aids and speech services.

Among the guests at the Tailgate party was foundation patient Mary Boston and her husband, Jason. She was invited so that she might thank the generous donors and supporters of HSF. Mary Boston came to the foundation a few weeks before her wedding in the spring of 2008 in hopes of receiving new hearing aids since hers were in serious disrepair.

Between college tuition, a wedding, and a new household to set up, spending thousands of dollars on a new set of hearing aids was simply not in her budget. Within a few short weeks, the foundation was able to see and treat her hearing loss.

During half-time, HSF co-founder John Berry welcomed all guests and thanked them for attending the Tailgate party 2008. He encouraged them to purchase ornaments off the “Football Tree” designed by HSF volunteer, Joella Anderson. These ornaments were priced for items such as a year’s worth of hearing aids for an HSF patient, or an hour of speech therapy for a hearing-impaired child. The Football Tree brought in an additional $2,000 from these generous supporters.

Also included among the guests were two lone Auburn fans, Johnny Bailey from Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Jared Horn, son of HSF president, Amanda Horn.

Other invited guests included foundation board members: Bryan Daniels, Rachel Gibson, Bob Hasentufel, John Hinkle, Regina Jennings, Lolita Kressin, Bob McLean, Roma Renfro, Leslee Rook, Becky Swann and Bill Womac; and HSF’s technical writer, Amanda Womac.

On Oct. 30, HSF hosted an Interest Reception for potential new volunteers and board members. The wine and cheese reception was held in the office of Blount Hearing and Speech Services where the HSF office also resides.

John Berry gave all participants a private tour of the clinic, including a most unusual section of the office - the anechoic chamber. This room was specifically designed to be a soundless environment. It is a large room filled with sound absorbing cones made of foam and attached to the walls, ceiling, and floor.

When standing inside, all speech immediately sounds muffled. When all is quiet inside, the silence becomes “deafening.” The Foundation contracts with Blount Hearing and Speech Services to conduct research with hearing-impaired patients. This unique room absorbs more than 99% of outside noise and provides a one of a kind area to conduct research and fit hearing aids.

In addition to a welcome to the clinic and the HSF office, guests were given an introduction to the programs run through the foundation, including the progress being made in the Foundation’s hearing aid recycling program.

Recycled aids are essential the Indigent Care Program since they may be repaired and placed on individuals who cannot afford hearing aids. If the hearing aid is too old or damaged, it still may be returned to the manufacturer for a credit toward the purchase of future aids.

As economic hardships hit closer to Blount County, HSF responded by requesting donations come in the form of these unused hearing aids. Word about the program has spread throughout East Tennessee and gained the interest from the regional offices of the Lion’s Club and this week Foundation representatives will attend a statewide conference regarding the recycling of technology for people living with disabilities.

In 2008, the foundation refit 90 recycled hearing aids on new patients, returned unusable aids to hearing aid companies, and received a credit of more than $3,000 to use for future repairs of damaged hearing aids brought in by HSF patients.

Current board members attending the reception included Karyn Adams, Rachel Gibson, John Hinkle, Amanda Horn, Lolita Kressin, Terri and Bill Parsons, Roma Renfro, Beverly Sherrod, and Becky and Joe Swann.

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