June 2017: HLA-Whatcom Partners with WWU Audiology Clinic to Establish a WWU Hearing Aid Bank
(from left to right) Mike Sweeney, Rieko Darling, Charlene MacKenzie, HD Lola
On June 1, 2017 the Whatcom County Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA-Whatcom County) met with Rieko Darling, Ph.D., WWU Audiology Clinic and Au.D. Program Director, to present a check for $1,500 for delivery to the Western Washington University Foundation. Pictured in this photo are Michael Sweeney, HLAA chapter president, Rieko Darling, and Charlene MacKenzie, co-founder of the chapter in 2004 (shown with her hearing service dog, Lola.)
The donation initiates a new teamwork project between the local hearing loss chapter and the University, to support the establishment of a WWU Hearing Aid Bank to serve our local community. Graduate students in the new Clinical Doctorate in Audiology (Au.D.) Program, which begins in the fall of 2017, will have the opportunity to fit refurbished donated hearing aids to income-restricted people in need of hearing help. Dr. Darling and HLAA Whatcom County Chapter envision this hearing technology associated project becoming a major endeavor supported by many community service organizations in Whatcom County.
The Whatcom County Chapter, today 80 members strong, has served the area since 2004. Meeting the 3rd Saturday morning every month from 9:30 to 11:30, they provide information, education, support and advocacy to people who are hard of hearing. Christ the Servant Lutheran Church at 2600 Lakeway Drive in Bellingham, has hosted this group since its inception. The two founders, Charlene MacKenzie and Bert Lederer, as members of this church, increased its outreach by including a Hearing Health Ministry in support.
The need for hearing aids is a major one in America. The incidence of hearing loss is estimated at 17% nationally. Based on the June 2016 census figures and applied locally, that would add up to at least 1 million people in WA State alone, nearly 30,000 in Whatcom County and over 11,300 in Bellingham. Neither Medicaid nor Medicare provide hearing aids which can vastly improve the ability to hear-and-understand speech as well as many environmental sounds that keep people "connected" with their world.
Our Chapter is lucky to have several Hearing Dogs who work hard to aid their human chapter member.
HD LOLA from Dogs for Better Lives helps her mom, Charlene MacKensie, "steer her boat". Way to go Lola!
HD DUDE from Canine Companions for Independence helps his mom, Tanya Griffey, at work. Totally awesome Dude!
Our member Barbara Oliver with her Hearing Dog in Training, Maxwell Smart, aka Max
HD WARREN from Dogs for Better Lives was Bert Lederer's "right hand man" and a participating member of the chapter for 11 years, from 2005 until he went to Doggie Heaven in 2016.
HD Murphy from Dogs for Better Lives is Sheri Apt's "ears". Alert on Murphy!
Our member Pam Spencer with her Hearing Dog in Training, Darwin