What Motivates Us?


By North Dakota H&V Board Members

In our part of the world, motivation can be hard to come by in the winter months. It is dark when we wake up and dark just after we pick up the kids from school or head home from a long day of work. The ground is covered in ice and snow and the land is a frozen tundra with temperatures looming below zero. We all have similar reasons (or let us call them what they are - excuses) not to get motivated.  So our question to you from the frozen tundra of North Dakota is what moves you to get motivated?  We have a few motivators we wanted to share.

One board member, Jerrica Maxson, says: “As an audiologist, I’m confident in my ability to test a child’s hearing, to educate parents on the communication and amplification options that exist, and refer them to the appropriate professionals and early interventionists to maximize their child’s development with language. However, I don’t have the firsthand experience of receiving a diagnosis of hearing loss for my child or of feeling the wide range of emotions that come along with it. What I can do as a professional, however, is encourage parents to share their experiences in a safe environment with other parents who know what it is like. Having a Hands & Voices chapter in our state provides me the peace of mind that the families I work with have that added support from other parents. Without it, I would feel like there’s a leg of their journey that they are missing out on.”

Andy Strom, a parent board member says: “My primary source of motivation for serving on the Board of Directors for North Dakota H&V is my passion for improving services and educational outcomes for all children with hearing loss. This passion has grown over the years, as I have watched my son with hearing loss continue to meet and exceed expectations.  Our family has witnessed, firsthand, the success that is possible when children receive the comprehensive and quality services they need and deserve. It is my desire to make those services more accessible to other families and children in our state.”

Janette Venaas-Gilbraith, speech language pathologist and Board member, says: “As a professional working in the state of North Dakota with children and families, I have often become frustrated identifying that we were not able to provide our families with the appropriate resources and support that is necessary when their child has a hearing loss. Being selected to be on the Board of Directors for North Dakota H&V allows me to assist in providing families with the resources and support that is needed and warranted as they begin their journey.  There is nothing that motivates me more than to know that the families in North Dakota will be provided with essential tools to assist them with their journey and knowledge on how to advocate for their child’s needs.”

Do we sometimes want to quit? Parent board member, Deanna Anderson, questions: “Why do we keep on?  Interestingly enough, this was an issue I have been struggling with lately. I was thinking of resigning from the board of directors for North Dakota H&V because I have not been able to dedicate as much time as I think I should since I started back to school. As I wrote out my reasons for belonging, I realized that I do not want to give up my position. My daughter, Jaylee, inspires my reason at the top of that list. I just have to look at her and I think, 'I do not want another family to struggle to find help like we did.'  I love working with our amazing team of parents and professionals. Everyone is committed to improving the conditions in our state and I think that is pretty mind-blowing. We are making a difference, one family at a time. I have to admit: I get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I tell someone that “my daughter is hard of hearing and we belong to North Dakota Hands & Voices.  It is an amazing organization; let me tell you about it,” that keeps me going.

Mataya Heisler, also a parent board member, agrees. “One word comes to mind when asked what motivates me personally to be a part of North Dakota H&V, and that word is advocate. I want to advocate for my son first and foremost by making sure his needs are met throughout his life.

I also want to advocate for the families that are new to this community that have been touched by hearing loss and get them the resources they need, and also to the ones that may not know what is all offered throughout their community. The future holds wonderful prosperous technology, and I believe the future will continue to become closer, we will continue to learn, and continue to grow through knowing each other in this community that has been touched by hearing loss.”

Kim Wood, parent board member, relates that her daughter motivates her. “First and foremost, my beautiful daughter, Madison, is five-years-old and very independent, determined, stubborn, happy, and curious. I have learned much more from her than she has from me. Another motivator is meeting with other families that have children with hearing loss. It wasn't until about a year and a half after my daughter's diagnosis that I was finally able to connect with another parent.  As wonderful as the professionals were who were working with us, there was just a missing piece until I was able to sit down with another parent and share my story with someone who understood and had been through similar experiences. My goal is making sure that families, whether they are newly diagnosed, or further along in the journey, have connections to others who can share the bond of having a child with hearing loss.”

Some professionals find their motivation fired up by the families they encounter. Julie Wetzel, a professional working with North Dakota’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) says: “My motivation comes from hearing the stories of the Hands & Voices group. Their genuine desire to help support families of children with hearing loss and to share information with families about choices makes me want to contribute any way I can. I want to be part of this worthwhile group!”

Anita Skiple, parent board member says: “As I think back to when our son was first identified as profoundly deaf, there was not a great network for parents that were in our same situation to share and support each other. I am excited to be part of an organization that can do that for parents. It is a way to be involved and pay it forward in a very special way for families going through the same things that we did.  Another exciting function of Hands & Voices is the advocacy the members can provide for families going through the IEP process with their children for school. It is a bit scary as a parent going to that first IEP meeting, but knowing that our organization is able to help parents with the process is incredible. Many families will benefit from our efforts in getting this organization going and growing.”

Stephannie Stiel, parent board member says: “When I am overwhelmed with deadlines, commitments and obligations and want to walk away from all responsibilities, I am reminded that without Hands & Voices and the people who make up the H&V family, my daughter would not have the options and opportunities that she has today. It takes someone to sacrifice time and energy and the willingness to share their talents and knowledge with others. Someone has done that for my family and our daughter, Sophia. When looking back at a day in my life, I could never say that time spent helping to better a child’s life and that child’s family was wasted time.”

Finally, Darcy Severson, a parent board member states: “What motivates me to serve on the board of H&V is my daughter who was identified with a hearing loss. As a parent I would have found comfort in learning about a network of families going through similar situations. Finding resources for my daughter and advocating for her needs was challenging because organizations such as H&V did not exist here at that time. Now as my daughter becomes a successful young adult, I would like to share my knowledge and comfort to other families as their make the way through the obstacles and successes. There is strength in numbers and we can make this a better life for every kiddo who has a hearing loss.”

Although many of us may be more motivated to curl up into our warm beds and watch the latest sitcom or reality show, stalk our friends on Facebook or read a good book, we plunge forward knowing that meaningful parent to parent support is a great cause and that each of us plays a unique, important role in the H&V family. We hope we motivated you to get motivated.

Copyright 2014 Hands & Voices   ::   Privacy Policy   ::   Credits