top of page

Recent News / Press Releases 

Navigate to:

November 2021:  U.S. Air Force veteran Louis Touchette

November 2021

July 2021: Member Bill Collison’s Obituary

July 2021
Feb 2021

February, 2021

Bert Grumpy Hat.jpg




In Memoriam   2.4.21

Bert Lederer


The Whatcom County Chapter is sad to announce the passing of its Co-Founder, Bert Lederer on February 4, 2021.  Bert was our patriarch, mentor, and friend.  While it’s hard to let him go, we are thankful for his sake -- no longer in pain, fragile, and wondering for so long if this day will be his last.

Bert was active for decades in HLAA, dating back to its former name SHHH, Self Help for Hard of Hearing People. In the 1990’s with too few others he spear-headed the formation of our Chapter only to have to let it go.  Then in 2004 he tried again, this time successfully with co-Founder Charlene MacKenzie and the support of many others. His legacy will continue to live on through us: vital, relevant, and committed as we move through our 17th year and beyond.

Bert lived the HLAA mission, an indefatigable leader -- informing, educating, supporting, and advocating. We have long witnessed and benefitted from his dedication, experience, insight, and foresight. Even more he drew us into the rare fellowship of people with hearing loss who refused to let it compromise the quality of our lives.

Oh Bert, we will miss you in so many ways -- personally and in our many treasured shared times -- benefitting from your timeless leadership. In your memory we will move on together with stronger, clearer purpose. Your spirit will remain our guiding light.

Those wishing to do so may remember Bert by contributing to the HLAA Whatcom Founders Fund.  The Founders Fund was recently established to provide scholarships to support 2 Whatcom County graduating High School seniors with hearing loss as they pursue post-secondary education.  The first awards will be announced made this Spring and will be renewed annually for up 4 years for each student.  Bert was aware of this effort and was “honored and humbled.”  Donations may be mailed to HLAA Whatcom County, PO Box 252, Bellingham 98227.  Contact Larry Wonnacott, Whatcom Chapter President, ( for further information. 

Claydene and family have invited all to attend the Memorial Service for Bert on August 14 at 11AM.  It will be held at their home, 3133 Coolidge Dr in Bellingham.  After the service there will be some great Hawaiian food and and open microphone to share stories about Bert.  The event will be outdoors so masks are not mandatory.  There will be tents for shade (as it seems that rain is out of the question).  Bert co-founded our group and his contributions were immeasurable so please join his family and add to their memories.

Oct 2020: HLAA-Whatcom gets an Intern! 

Oct 2020

What’s new?! HLAA gets an Intern! 


Last spring, HLAA-Whatcom had the chance to collaborate with the WWU Journalism Department & a senior-level group of public relations students. The students worked with us to determine how we should reach out to our community and increase membership. They conducted an online survey that demonstrated how aware the community was of HLAA and how most people access information. 


One of the participating students, Ally Burdett, is now our current intern! She is working hard this quarter on multiple projects to increase our community awareness and better serve our mission. 


As of right now, she is about half-way through the quarter. (Time is flying!) Here is a list of the projects she has been working on: 


  • Refreshed the website. 

  • Recorded a public service announcement about National Protect Your Hearing Month that aired on two local, non-commercial stations. 

  • Implemented a table-top poster campaign that seeks to increase public awareness of hearing loss. This project is still progressing, although as of right now we have posters at two local Fred Meyer, the Port of Bellingham, WECU and Healthy Pet. 

  • Created original content for the Facebook page about hearing loss facts and increased our page engagements, follows and likes. 

  • Wrote multiple press releases about recent chapter activity. 


She is also working on her own public relations project that seeks to increase our brand awareness. This should be taking off soon! 


Here is a little bit about Ally: 

I was born and raised in Edmonds, Washington and moved to Bellingham about four years ago. This summer I got the chance to live in Seward, Alaska and ran into five bears along the way! Although I hope to visit Alaska again soon, I’m headed back to the beautiful PNW to finish up my degree. 

 I’m currently studying public relations and journalism at Western and I will graduate at the end of the quarter. Last spring, I had the opportunity to work with HLAA Whatcom for a class project. I’m looking forward to executing the ideas my classmates and I came up with this fall. 

My journalism experience includes reporting for The Western Front, volunteering and conducting public relations tasks with other local nonprofits and working as the operations coordinator at a radio station.  

After I graduate, I hope to work for the radio industry or for nonprofit organizations. Over the past two years, I’ve had a live radio show at KUGS and it has been a lot of fun!  

In my free time I like to practice guitar, create jewelry, play pick-up basketball and go on bike rides with my friends.

Ally Burdett 

June 2017: HLAA-Whatcom Partners with WWU Audiology Clinic to Establish a WWU Hearing Aid Bank

June 2017

(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.


-Charlene MacKenzie-

Who Let The Dogs Out?!

Our Chapter is lucky to have several Hearing Dogs who work hard to aid their human chapter member. 

Who Let The Dogs Out


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!

dude at po.JPG

Maxwell Smart

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.

Bert and Warren.JPG


HD Murphy from Dogs for Better Lives is Sheri Apt's "ears".  Alert on Murphy!

sheri and murphy.JPG


Our member Pam Spencer with her Hearing Dog in Training, Darwin.

bottom of page