Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Holidays - Final Blog of 2016

Greetings of the Season to one and all!

I hope this message finds your holiday preparations at least reasonably completed and you are enjoying the beauty of the Season, however you define it.

I was in Bethesda the Week of December 5-10 doing some really cool things.  I got the opportunity to meet and work with HLAA's new Program Assistant for Chapters and Membership Services, Erin Mirante.  I am so excited Erin joined the HLAA Team.  Her first day was November 28th.  She is so warm-hearted, enthusiastic, and eager to assist our chapters.  If you have not had a chance to welcome Erin, please drop her a line and say "Hello". Erin's email address is emirante@hearingloss.org

During her first month with HLAA (December), Erin has been working a lot with HLAA's Membership Coordinator Gaelin Bryant to learn the HLAA database system.  While databases are not everybody's idea of a good time, they form the foundation for HLAA to support its chapters and members.  If you remember the old computer adage GIGO (garbage in - garbage out), it goes a long way to explain why Erin spent her first month immersed in databases.  Without accurate and up-to-date data, HLAA simply cannot serve its members. 

It is not my intention to leave Erin buried in databases forever.  Smile.  During December, Erin has also been reading copies of all the emails that come in to me from the Chapters.  She and I have been discussing the various needs contained within those emails and the necessary action items to meet those needs.  Erin will begin to handle some of the chapter admin functions I have been handing, so please don't be surprised if you receive an email from Erin in 2017 instead of from me.  Please continue to send your emails requesting assistance to vstafford-mallis@hearingloss.org  or to chapters@hearingloss.org. Either Erin or I will respond.

While I was in Bethesda, I also attended the December 7th public session for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) report Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability.  OMG!  The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability is rocking the hearing health world.  Already, President Obama gave an Executive Branch shout out to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in his weekly Presidential address last week for actions they have taken as a result of the Report. Senators in Congress have proposed legislation to create a new category of OTC (over-the-counter), entry-level hearing aids for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss as a result of the Report.  Hearing health care will never be the same.

Why am I telling you this?  Because NOW is the time for HLAA chapters to engage in community service and advocacy projects that improve publicly available information on hearing health and engage a wider community. NOW is the time to start planning some outreach and community service activities for 2017!  NOW is the time to start a conversation about what YOUR chapter can do to get involved in this exciting ground-swell of change. Want to see a list of what those kinds of projects might look like? Please check out the Outreach and Community Service tab on the HLAA Leader Support page.  There is a whole list of projects toward the bottom of the page to get you started. http://www.hearingloss.org/content/outreach-and-community-service   I am looking forward to helping our chapters make the most of this window of opportunity. 

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, please let me remind you I will be working part-time beginning in January.  As many of you know, I don't live in Bethesda.  I telecommute from Florida.  Between Erin and I, we will continue to respond to you quickly, efficiently, and compassionately.

All the best you and yours in 2017!
Valerie Stafford-Mallis



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