Celebrating 15 Years – A Reflection
Essay by Alicia Fernandez
It is with great pleasure that I thank the current HLAA-LA Steering Committee for the wonderful 15-Year Anniversary Celebration on Nov. 2, 2019. It was both informative and joyful! As one of the founders of this group, I could not be prouder.
Note: View the full article to see some of the very first chapter newsletters!
This group started out under the title of SHHH-LA, and was the result of a brainstorm by seven good friends, some with hearing loss and their hearing partners. We transformed our dream into a place where anybody with hearing loss could attend meetings with their loved ones and find emotional and practical support.
We provided captioning, brought in informational speakers, planned parties and events, developed a vibrant newsletter and a dynamic website, and held successful fundraisers. We worked hard and had fun doing it.
The original seven founders were Valerie Stern (our first president) and Willie Stern, Katherine Burns, Danny Tubbs, Alicia Fernandez, Michael Kaplan and Pat Widman (Pat generously provided the seed money to start this adventure). We were soon joined by many active members, including Chloe Parent who created our first website and Lisa Yuan, who went on to do… well… everything! This included taking over the newsletter and covering every office we had, including President. The list of talented leaders and advocates goes on and on.
Our little group grew and evolved and became HLAA-LA. Of course, life changed for all of us founders. Some of us got married, some had kids, we changed jobs and moved around, some across the country. One by one we passed on the reins to fresh faces and new talents and approaches.
This part is the biggest challenge for support groups: Original leaders often get overwhelmed and burned out, life brings other responsibilities, and groups are unable to adjust. We were so fortunate this has not happened to HLAA-Los Angeles.
Which is why I wish to thank ALL OF YOU. We may have provided the original template, but all the talented leaders who followed, and all the enthusiastic members who came, helped make this group what it is today.
Thank you for keeping our mission the same: reaching out to all those with hearing loss in the LA area to have a welcoming place. People come and go, but the home and support for those with hearing loss stays the same. You should be so proud. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!