The 2017 volunteer week theme is Volunteering Shapes Lives and long-time Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) Gander branch volunteer Isabel Blackmore has certainly shaped many lives in her community.
Recently, Isabel announced her volunteer “retirement” from CHHA Gander Branch and the CHHA Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter recognizes her commitment to hearing loss awareness and support for the past 30 years.
Volunteering with CHHA Gander
Isabel first became involved with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association in the 1980’s when she was seeking information for her mother who had hearing loss.
In the early 1990’s she became involved as the Gander representative with the Hard of Hearing Helpers project and shared hearing loss information with a variety of groups in her community.
Isbael then became part of the group that officially formed the CHHA Gander Branch, volunteering as a support group for those with hearing loss in the region.
During Isabel’s time with CHHA Gander, the branch:
- held regular public sessions,
- visited seniors’ homes in the area, bringing demonstrations and advice,
- hosted a technology lending program,
- donated substantially to the hospital and local seniors’ homes, with assistance from the Lions’ club, the Co-op Lottery and others.
Making A Difference
In Isabel’s own words, being a part of the CHHA Gander branch:
“It helped me in find confidence in my own ability. I learned not to hide my hearing loss or apologize for it. It gave me what I need to help other hard of hearing people, and to advocate for them when possible. It’s still a struggle but I know I am not alone and don’t mind standing up for myself “.
When asked what she hopes others will learn about hearing loss, Isabel says
“We need more education related to communicating with [those with hearing loss]…one hope is that with time there will be more awareness and respect.
My personal message is that children should learn in the early grades to speak with clarity and to learn proper enunciation. I have found that people who are in charge of health do not have the training to make themselves understood. It should be a significant part of every person’s training in the health field”.
In The Words Of Others
Members of the CHHA Gander Branch have shared personal stories of Isabel’s many other interests in the community, and beyond.
“Isabel was involved in founding The Brush & Palette club in Gander. This was a organization where artists and upcoming painters would gather to paint and discuss the latest concerning their hobby. Isabel had paintings on display at the Arts and Culture Center plus a few of her creations adorned Doctor’s offices.
She was an avid Radio Ham in an era when Radio amateurs were mostly male, and was one of a small handful of female members whose voice VO1PV could be heard in the mornings on the provincial network. She was a member of the international all women’s international network of Radio Hams that boasted of women from all over Canada, The UK, the Netherlands, and beyond”. – John Lush
“Isabel was, and still is, a remarkable and dynamic person. She possessed a drive and commitment to helping others overcome problems with hearing loss. She was never too busy or tired to stop and lend a helping hand in any way she thought would benefit others” – Gordon Chaulk
Thank you Isabel for your many years of dedicated service with CHHA Gander from all of us at the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – Newfoundland and Labrador.