“Did you Help Anyone Today?”
H&V Parent Leaders
Share a Typical Day


By Janet DesGeorges, Executive Director H&V

helpH&V parent leaders take a moment to connect
with each other at a staff retreat. 

When people comment on the success of the H&V organization and where we have come from, I often think of what that ‘looks like’ on a day to day basis. H&V did not grow out of thin air. It is a result of the dedication and pursuit of excellence by the leadership within the organization. “What does a day look like for a parent leader at Hands & Voices?” We put that question to our leaders who reflected back on the busyness of it all, the double-tasking, and most importantly, the impact of parent-to-parent support.  All day long, from around the globe, parent leaders from Hands & Voices are fulfilling the mission of this great organization. With less time than needed…with less money than necessary… while most of the time still raising children of their own at home. The following is a compilation of responses from some of our leaders….

 “My Hands & Voices day started at 8:00 a.m. with a quick check of email in the office then off to a meeting with the H&V Chapter President to discuss new potential board candidates. Next came a Family Conference planning meeting followed by three different parent calls about advocacy help. I made a call to a primary care physician’s office requesting help for a non-English speaking family who was recently notified that their child’s Medicaid had been dropped. Next, I closed out a grant budget year report, and finally off to do a parent event almost four hours away. At the parent event were seven parents in a rural part of the state who had never had the opportunity to get together with other parents. This night was incredible; these parents immediately bonded and by the end of the evening, had all shared contact information with one parent volunteering to be the one who will plan the next gathering. The night ended with the long return trip home that landed me back at my house for the first time that day at 12:30 a.m. One would think that I would have been dragging after this busy day, but having the opportunity to gather these parents and see them making connections was like an infusion of caffeine directly into my veins. While driving home I realized although there are those few who may try and break my spirit as a parent leader, they pale in comparison to the families I meet through this incredible organization called Hands & Voices. It’s these families that make my heart pound a little harder and replenish my spirit to levels beyond anything that can be broken! What really amazes me is that this “Day in the Life of a Hands & Voices Parent Leader” is not unique to me. This same story plays out every day across many different Hands & Voices chapters. What a blessing it is to be a part of Hands & Voices.”  -Lisa Kovacs, Indiana H&V Guide By Your Side (GBYS) Coordinator and H&V HQ GBYS Director of Programs

 “My day started off by being roused out of sleep with the sound of my daughter’s bed shaker rattling between her bed and the wall, effectively waking everyone else in the house but her. After getting the kids off to school, I participated in a conference call with a newly hired parent guide and the EHDI Long Term Follow-up Coordinator. Meanwhile, my work email inbox kept sending me warnings about my mailbox reaching capacity so I decided to clean it out. I ran across a message from a Guide By Your Side mom sent over a year ago as they “aged out” of our services and were preparing for school. On a whim I decided to send a message out to her and check in. Within minutes she replied with an update on their family. She was still thankful for the support she received through the early intervention period. After a typical day of contacting parents through phone and email I was off to watch my daughter play golf for the high school team.  After the golf meet, I stopped at a local department store and noticed the young cashier was wearing hearing aids. After determining she was still in high school, I invited her to attend the teen game night being co-hosted by IA Hands & Voices. She seemed interested in joining the fun, as a HOH senior mainstreamed student in a small Iowa school district. Once I returned home I noticed an update by Amy, one of our GBYS parent guides, on Facebook. She wanted to get rid of their wooden play set to the first person that responded to her FB post. The first responder was a mom who connected with Amy as the parent of an infant newly diagnosed with hearing loss. Of course I had to “like” that connection!” – Susan Rolinger, Iowa H&V GBYS Coordinator

“Hands & Voices is a big deal in our house since I took over the presidency of the Pennsylvania chapter about a year ago. My daughter, Julia, persuaded her Girl Scout troop to donate a portion of their cookie money to the chapter. She collects change from her grandparents and slyly tells me, "Mommy, you can have this for Hands & Voices!" Constantly full of questions, Julia once asked, "Does Hands & Voices actually help anybody? I mean do you HELP people?" I informed her of all the things we're doing here in PA. I told her about board members going to IEP meetings to help families and how we talk to parents on the phone. I reminded her of meetings that she's been to and told her that I send a lot of helpful emails. She didn't seem altogether impressed, but she was ready to move on to other questions. "What's your favorite animal, mom, other than a dog?" It was a few weeks after our conversation on the merits of Hands & Voices that I had a real banner day. I talked to two different moms that had recently moved to PA. I made plans to advocate at an IEP for one of the families and gathered a tremendous amount of information to email to the other. Both were very appreciative. In addition to the satisfied feeling of helping these two families, I tucked these stories away in my mind. I now had so much more proof for Julia! That night at dinner when we sat down I announced, "I helped someone today! Two people actually!" My husband was quite impressed. Julia waited patiently for me to stop talking so she could ask, "So if you could walk on a rainbow, would you?" …Not all of her questions are thought provoking. She's eight. But that "who do you help?" one keeps me on track. If we're not helping families here in PA there just isn't much of a point. Fortunately, there are many days when I can think of someone in particular I've personally helped. That's what keeps me going. That, and loose change.” -Joey Lynn Resciniti, Pennsylvania H&V

“In a 30 minute period today I was hopping back and forth on the phone between my insurance company and our implant company trying to get back up batteries and headpieces for my girls while at the same time writing a grant for our chapter (which I completed, stamp on envelope and all!) and even finalized the agenda for this weekend's parent workshop in Southern Oregon!” – Helen Cotton Leiser, Oregon H&V Director and GBYS Coordinator

“Yesterday was a little crazy around here. I spent the morning catching up on calls with families, then switched modes to preparing for our upcoming GBYS training. After a few emails relating to data systems and webpage revisions, I took a break to cook dinner for my family, and then rushed off to an event planning meeting for our big June picnic. After a quick late-night read of the board liability insurance policy renewal and an email exchange about updating our bylaws, I was finally off to bed.  Life is never dull in the Hands & Voices world!” -Teresa Kazemir, BC Hands & Voices and H&V HQ board member

“Today I returned H&V emails and worked on projects from the salon while having my hair done.”  - Mandy McClellan, Arkansas H&V Chapter Coordinator (author’s note – ‘haven’t we all?’)

“I’ve been trying hard to exercise a lot of life balance in light of recent health events.  Not easy with the work we do.  But here’s a day on my schedule a few weeks back that highlights the diversity of our work. In the morning, I went to the office; set up interpreters for our MN Hands & Voices’ Youth Art Contest Gallery Opening that weekend; had a discussion with a client who submitted a nomination for MN Hands & Voices’ “High Five” award honoring community members who make a difference in the lives of our children who are deaf/hard of hearing;       arranged adult role models for upcoming MN H&V Annual Family Roller Skating event;           set up a meeting with MN Association of Deaf Citizens Youth Coordinator to discuss collaboration/support of events for signing youth. At noon, I went to South Metro to a Student Event for DHH where the students are collaborating with MNHV to write “letters” to parents/youth about their perspective of being proud of themselves and all they have accomplished.  It was awesome to witness the kids tell their advice to other kids and be so confident in their abilities.  These kids were at peace with themselves and had a very positive outlook on life. Afternoon/Evening:  Drove back to the office to attend Lifetrack Resources’ Child and Family Healthy Development subcommittee of the Governing Board. – Candace Lindow-Davies, MN H&V Program Coordinator and H&V HQ Board Vice-President

“Highlights from my day…. I came into the office and checked my calendar and meeting schedule.  I opened my email and once again realized I will never catch up on e-mails…ever….but gave it the old college try and knew I would at least get through 50 or 60 with another 100 coming in during the day….  What’s that quote?  “…it’s like trying to shovel snow off the sidewalk while it’s still snowing.” In checking my e-mails, I received an email from a young 21 yr. old mom from a rural (rural!) area that I had talked to on the phone for 45 minutes and tried to answer some questions. Here is the email.  “Thank you so much! All the information  you shared with me was very helpful ….that’s the most information I’ve gotten out of anyone!  Begin a young mom is hard as it is, but being a young mom of a deaf newborn is even harder!!  I’m glad there are organizations out there to make it easier on families….thank you for helping a fellow mom.  It means a lot. We all need to stick together.  Well, gotta go, time for bath time for the kids….it feels nice to have a friend who has gone through what I am going through…goodnight.” I later met with the O.U.R. Project committee to continue our learning on Child Abuse and Neglect for Children who are D/HH.  That just sits on my heart as one of the most important things we are doing at Hands & Voices right now. I had a phone meeting with our H&V HQ staff members, who amaze me every day in their dedication, hard work, and follow through on limited time/funding constraints.  I don’t think I could do what I do without them. I then worked on a PowerPoint training regarding educational advocacy while ignoring a text from my husband asking me if I had any idea what we might have for dinner.” – Janet DesGeorges, H&V Headquarters

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