Your Friendly Neighborhood Audiologist

Post By: Olivia Hahn 

As I get closer and closer to my moving date, I'm finding myself getting more and more excited. Leaving my hometown to begin a brand new adventure with new people in a new city couldn't be more appealing to me at this moment in my life. I love the location I'm headed towards and I love the reason I'm heading towards it even more... to become a doctor of audiology! I am making my family call me 'doctor' by the way. The only reason I wished I was getting my masters is so they would have to call me 'master' instead.

So off to Louisville I go! My head is looking up and my confidence is at an all-time high. At least until I spend my first all-nighter in the library then ask me again how I'm feeling... Anyway, why so confident and enthusiastic you ask? Well, the stipulation that an audiologist is just focused on hearing aids is totally false! There are so many things that I will learn in the realm of this occupation including diagnosis of audiological disorders, diagnosis of hearing loss, rehabilitation for hearing loss, designing and implementing assistive devices for hearing loss, auditory processing evaluations, helping with classroom amplification systems, diagnosis and rehabilitation for balance disorders, earwax and tinnitus management, patient and family counseling, implementing sign language into appointments, research, development, and so much more!

I realize that last paragraph may have been a snooze-fest to some of you but to me it's audiology heaven! I'm looking forward to a profession that is so broad and becoming so dynamic that it could place me in all different atmospheres and open many doors for me in the future. I could work in a private practice, an ENT office, a hospital, a school, a military clinic, universities, and industrial settings. The extensive scope of practice I'll be learning makes me ecstatic because I'll constantly be given new things to research, memorize, and practice and I am not ever going to be restricted to one thing. Unless I want to be restricted to one specialty then I can do that too! The hearing and balance world is at my fingertips. 

If you must know, I do have a plan set in mind but I'm sure by the time I'm through with my professional studies it'll have changed, at least a little bit. I would like to own and operate my own private practice in downtown Indianapolis one day and be what I would call a 'Hearing Hero' in the community where I dwell. I can see it now... "Olivia, your friendly neighborhood audiologist. The Indianapolis Hearing Hero". Needless to say I am very enthusiastic about my future and the surprises it holds for me. One thing I loved about the students and environment of Louisville School of Medicine was how confident the they were in the specialties they had selected to take into the real world with them beyond schooling and how supportive the staff was of those selections. I'm looking forward to that moment myself. 

So after all this nerdy enthusiasm, I hope I shined a light on the excitements of audiology and why I'm deciding to go down this long and extensive path just to get a job. I've yet to meet an audiologist that is crude or dislikes the fact that they have to wake up and put on their white coats in the morning. There's a lot more to this profession than is advertised and that's what's so appealing about it. As I further myself in school and in the real world, I'd like to bring those unknown responsibilities to the forefront. So keep an eye out (and an ear) because your Hearing Hero will be taking over the world... in 4 years.

Have a great week everybody- Olivia 

Swimmer's Ear Prevention

Post By: Olivia Hahn

Today my topic seems to be appropriate for the hot summer days that have begun. As a kid I remember ALWAYS swimming. No matter what, I was in the water if it was available and I stayed in there for hours doing handstands and racing from one end of the pool to another. Now my main focus is on reapplying sunscreen and torturing myself in the heat to became a few shades darker...oh, how times have changed. Keeping your children out of the water is a futile task so you might as well have a few tips and tricks to help them avoid the dreaded 'swimmer's ear.'

Here's a quick break down for you: the ear consists of three sections. The outer ear -- which is basically what everyone sees and includes the canal leading to your eardrum; the middle ear -- which is all the tiny bones that vibrate when sound shoots through; and the inner ear -- which is your hearing organ called the cochlea that includes a bunch of tiny hairs that interpret sound to send to the brain.

Swimmer's Ear, which is called otitis externa, is easily confused with the common ear infection in children called otitis media. Otitis meaning 'inflammation', 'externa' meaning 'outer', and media meaning 'middle'. Otitis externa (swimmer's ear) is caused by inflammation of the outer passage of the ear. Otitis media (common infection in children) is caused by inflammation of the middle passage of the ear. Hopefully this is making sense.

Anyway, I went to Florida with my dad one year when I was in grade school. We were having a fantastic vacation eating exotic seafood and driving in our rented convertible (top down, obviously). One night I woke up in extreme agony (I don't really remember it but my dad said it was just as painful for him to watch me deal with it as it was for me to actually live through it). The only place open that late at night was a Walgreen's, so my dad called the pharmacist and explained  my symptoms. After learning of my extensive time spent in the pool and ocean, a pharmacist diagnosed my swimmer's ear and suggested my dad get ear drops immediately. So, off we went at 2 a.m. to find the nearest pharmacy.

If my father new this could've been avoided then I KNOW he would've taken measures to do so because to this day I swear he's still scarred by our experience (he's the one that gave me this topic, to be completely honest). So I am going to give some tips and tricks on how to avoid a situation that could ruin a perfectly good vacation! 

-If the kids can stand them, go purchase waterproof, tight fitting earplugs. My dad and I got neon colored ones at the drug store that formed to my ears once we put them in.

-Swim caps might not look the coolest but they'll help. Especially if you put them over the ear plugs.

-Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. After your child has swam all day dry their ears with a towel and lay them on their side. Drop 4-5 drops of this concoction in each ear. Now remember, this is to prevent --not to cure -- so make sure they aren't already suffering from an infection. 

-If your child seems to already be in pain from swimmer's ear (you can usually tell by their crying and screaming when you touch their ear lobes or outer ear canals) then offer some sort of pain reliever and get them to a doctor ASAP! I don't remember exactly what it felt like but apparently I was screaming bloody murder. 

I hope this helps you have a safe and enjoyable summer. Have a great week everyone! See you next time.

-Olivia

Diversity: The Underdog of Audiology

Post By: Olivia Hahn

So often I find myself explaining to people who're somewhat uneducated on the world of hearing health that there is no 'typical' candidate for hearing loss. A common excuse for avoiding a clear issue (the fact that you can't hear or participate in social interactions because of it) is 'I'm too young and only old people need your help'. Not true. Another thing particular to HCC that I've noticed is that we are assumed to only help people in extreme poverty. Also not true. 

I was speaking with Cindy, our fabulous patient care coordinator, about how there is this image in general of someone with hearing loss being older, I'd say 65+, and especially all of our patients being 65+ and really struggling financially. She asked me if I were to describe our HCC population in one word, what would that word be? Naturally I sat there dumb founded, unable to get my creative juices flowing. I asked her what word she would use and she replied with, "Diverse." Wow. Imagine that. People with hearing loss being all shapes and sizes, coming from different cultures, all different ages (our patients range from 3 weeks old to 102 years old to clear that up), special needs, hearing aid users, cochlear implant users, FM system users for the classroom, people in poverty, retirees, university faculty, veterans, etc. 

One day spent at HearCare Connection and minds will be blown by the cold hard fact that every person is different that needs our services. Every person needs different things and needs taken care of in different ways. Not everyone in our realm of service is 75 years old with hearing aids. I think that's what I love about the profession. It's so much deeper and so much more individualized to each and every client than most people in the world think. This is why I want to pursue audiology, because I want to make sure that everyone in my life and my community know just how important hearing health is and just how diverse this profession can be! 

There is no physical attribute, no mental norm, no financial status, no range of age that contributes to an image of a 'typical' candidate for hearing help. There's honestly no such thing. This can reflect on one of my first blogs about how our profession can be repulsive to others because hearing health has a bad reputation. It's associated with getting old and let's be honest no one wants to get old. I love my grandma more than anything in this world and sometimes I wear a cotton nightgown to bed but do I want to be old? Not really. So please people, I'm begging you (and so is my staff) get this image out of your brains! Realize the difference we can make in your lives, in your family's lives, and reach out to us! If you don't qualify for our services then reach out elsewhere! 

Diversity in the hearing world, and especially in HCC's world, is a very real thing. Audiology is up and coming, it's dynamic, it's always changing! There is so much we can do for others based on our knowledge and technology tools. We can help a high school kid hear his teacher better in the classroom thus giving him a better opportunity to learn. We can help a mother interact with her children on a more intimate level. We can do this, we can do that... so let us! Get this negative and narrow-minded image out of heads around your community and start promoting hearing help to all people, TODAY! 

I <3 AUDIOLOGY! (I know I'm a nerd) Have a great week everyone.

-Olivia

 

Taking a Step Back

Posy By: Olivia Hahn

Everyday at HCC we get new patients that come with different backgrounds and various reasons why they strolled through our doors in the first place. Every person is different, wanting different things, and seeking different satisfaction. Once we've helped these individuals we check up with them days or months later to see how they're doing and if we've made the impact we'd hoped to make. Upon doing so we document the changes in their lives and what their starting point was to their present standing. This document is called a POSI (Patient Observation of Service and Improvement). So today I'm going to share with you some of my favorites.

Mark, a musician in his 60's, used to love the sound of guitar and his electric drum set. He used to own several businesses, but with his diabetes and hearing issues he couldn't keep up and lost it all. He came to HCC hoping to find an out for his unfortunate scenario. A friend gave him the remaining balance for his hearing aids as a Christmas gift while Mark himself volunteered by giving meals to shut-ins to compensate for his community service portion of payment. "I would never have been able to get hearing aids and hear again without HCC. I have not heard in 6 years. A lot of things are going to be different for me now and it will all be improved." -Mark

Kati, a mother of 4, was a new user of hearing aids at the age of 30. She stated at her first appointment that she was hoping to reconnect with one of her sons again. Volunteering did that for her. She took her family to the animal shelter to pet puppies for their community service hours. They loved participating in this as a family so much they continue to do it every Sunday. They even adopted a rescue themselves. "I was just so excited to get in my car and hear the radio again. Never would I have dreamed we would've reconnected as a family! Thank you so much HCC for helping us this way." –Kati

William, once a lonely man, feels comfortable again in his own skin with the desire to reach out to others now in his 70's. He has needed new hearing aids for years and has recently been fit with a pair. Upon activation of his new aids, he was speechless. He expressed concerns of falling into depression and removing himself from the contact of others due to frustration with his hearing loss. He claims now that he genuinely wants to call his friends and get dinner with them. “I’m so proud to have someone care for me the way you all do. This has changed my desire to be alone and I have HearCare Connection to thank.” –William.

Sometimes as health professionals, we don’t realize the actual impact we make on others’ lives. I enjoy reading these documentations of success and well-being, knowing that the organization I spend my time with is providing these services! These are 3 of many POSI’s we’ve collected throughout past appointments. It brings us all on a more personal level with each individual when they walk through our doors and that is a gift in itself! Have a great week everyone. Take a step back to dwell on the things you’re thankful for and the people that have made a difference in your life. Have a good one and God bless! 

-Olivia

An Ode to a Wonderful Teacher

Post By: Olivia Hahn 

As a student in the realm of professionals I am given the opportunity to learn from the best. I stand by Dr. Tina Sheehan's side everyday and silently gather information on physical techniques, ways to converse with patients, strategies on how to administer tests, etc. Coming to HearCare Connection has absolutely been a blessing and I've been learning everything I was expecting to concerning the technicalities of becoming an audiologist. I've also learned things that I think are just as important as the mechanics of this occupation that don't often get a light shined on them. Tina has an excellent reputation for caring about patients and applying herself beyond the black and white tasks of her job. She's taught me many things of course but there are some things that I will be taking away from her and HCC that I wasn't expecting to when I first stepped into this office.

The first being the importance of doctor/patient relationships and the value of community outreach. Watching Tina perform the duties as an audiologist is exceptional in itself but the real lesson to be learned is to form a bond and a trust between herself and who she is helping as well as the community around her. Her interaction with patients can be somewhat mesmerizing in the sense of understanding and respect she gives to each and every person that walks through our doors. To say that she makes you feel welcomed in this office is an understatement. Her giving nature leads us into the community by involving us in numerous health fair screenings and expos giving out information about ourselves to those who don't know the wonders of HCC yet. This in turn brings more people into our comforting atmosphere at HearCare. Everybody wins!

The second thing I've learned is that although I am an intern, patients and members of the community that I help beyond the office hang on every word that I say. They trust that I know what I'm doing and unless Tina introduces me as her student intern (which she does every now and again) patients believe I am just as qualified as a professional. I have Dr. Tina to thank for this because she allows me to spread my wings in the office and take over numerous types of appointments. Let's just say she kicked me out of the nest early. But throughout this experience she has taught me to be meticulous in what I say and do because although I don't necessarily think about it because I am still in the learning process, patients take exactly what I say seriously and to heart. I now know what a powerful responsibility this is and exactly how to approach people on an individual basis. 

The last thing that has truly stuck out to me is the fact that everyday is typical for us but is a huge day in the lives of whatever guests walk through that door. We have a routine when we walk into the office every morning where we turn on equipment, make our cup of coffee, and check our emails. I look over Cindy's shoulder to read what charts are prepared for the day and see if we have any 'cool' appointments scheduled. In reality, every appointment is extremely important because every appointment and every patient has a story of why they are here in the first place. For some, this is their first experience concerning hearing loss and that can be a scary thing. I'm sure you've found a robotic and factory-like environment in other doctor's offices but not here. Not a HearCare Connection. To remain respectful, to move patiently, and to be uplifting are virtues that Tina has taught me because although this seems small and routine to us, it can be confusing and  mean the world to someone else. 

So as I move onto a professional education and eventually the big, bad world I will carry these lessons with me. If I can have a fraction of the awesome reputation that Tina has made for herself then I'm going to be in great shape! So Tina if you're reading this, which I'm sure you are, thanks for everything that you do not only for me but for our HCC family and the Northeast Indiana community. I'm ecstatic to continue learning the rest of the summer so stay tuned HCC followers! Have a wonderful week.

-Olivia 

May: Best Month... Ever!

Post By: Olivia Hahn

Where has the time gone? Honestly, where has it gone? I have two more days until I officially wrap up my undergraduate degree... TWO DAYS! I have a jam-packed summer ahead of me then I'm off to Kentucky in August. The University of Louisville awaits! Where I'll begin this four year process all over... It'll be harder on me mentally and emotionally but it'll be worth every second. People have been asking me 'What will you do with your doctorate?', 'Where do you want to work when you graduate?', 'Is there something you'd like to specialize in?'. If I'm being honest I have a plan in mind and if I'm being really honest I have no idea if what I want to happen, will actually happen. 

The amazing thing about audiology is that I could pursue virtually whatever I wanted in the field. Pediatrics? Geriatrics? Cochlear Implants? Balance? Brain Surgery? (Okay, definitely not brain surgery but a girl can dream). The point being is that I'm entering a field where I can extend my talents and learn new things everyday. My clientele could be as diverse as I want it or as specific as I want it. I could be really great at one particular thing or really great at numerous specialties. Audiology and what we as professionals learn to do and the ways we can help should be celebrated! With all this being said, I'm very happy to wish you a delightful 'Better Hearing and Speech' month! According to ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association), the month of May is dedicated to spreading awareness about communication disorders. This years theme... "Communication: The Key to Connection". 

I couldn't agree more. Communication is 100% the key to connecting with your friends and family. Without the ability to hear and speak, building relationships with other people can be extremely difficult. If anyone knows me at all, they know I love to talk. I also (sort of) love to listen. I'm immensely blessed with the mechanics to start building and maintaining my connections with others. Some people are blessed in other aspects of life but lack the features needed to connect through communication. This is where HearCare Connection steps in. We thrive on helping others and making our patients feel comfortable. To us, May is the best month ever! An excuse to blow what we do out of proportion and shine a light on the fantastic things we can provide. There can be many unanswered questions in life and time can feel like it's flying right past you (see the first two paragraphs above). We feel like this a majority of the time but everyone, myself included, needs to take this month, sit back, be thankful, and roll with it! 

For those of you who obtain the qualities of life that are key to connecting with others, like speech and hearing, do not take them for granted people! Everyday I see patients walk into HCC praying that we can find a way to instill these capabilities into them. So let's celebrate the last 23 days of the best month ever! Appreciate the mechanics you possess and admire people who don't have this privilege. Together let's celebrate ourselves and celebrate communication disorders. Happy "Better Hearing and Speech Month" everyone! 

-Olivia

What About the Children?

 

Post By: Olivia Hahn:

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great Easter filled with family and pastels... I know I did! Although I am a little disappointed that I no longer qualify to participate in egg hunts considering I'm 22 years old and weeks away from graduating college. 

On Sunday, I was watching my little cousins run in circles around the yard picking up neon plastic eggs, cracking them open, and genuinely feeling excitement and joy for the quarter or mini peanut butter cup that laid inside. My cousins are young at the ages of two, five, and eight. A perfect time in their lives to learn new things and expand their knowledge. Because they're so young and still have years of growing to do, their brains are considered 'plastic' giving them the ability to adapt and store loads of information. At the convention in Indianapolis Tina and I attended a few weeks back, I sat in on a lecture about our role as audiologists in the language development of children in this age range.

I've been slowly falling in love with the world of pediatric audiology. Something I swore I was never going to pursue. Patience has never been my best characteristic but I'm learning. So I've decided in leap into opportunities where I can learn more about children and what I could potentially do for them as a professional. In this lecture, I was reminded that the ear is simply a doorway to the actual process of hearing and understanding that occurs in the brain. Our ears don't hear, our brains do. Just like our eyes or nose are simply doorways to our vision and sense of smell that are actually performed in the brain. 

If we as doctors, teachers, and guardians can manipulate this concept in children at a young age, then we're setting the stage for many Easter egg hunts to come without complications or confusion. Things that you can do early on to prepare their language are make sure you are reading to your children and engaging in music with them in an active manner. Reading to kids at any age is extremely beneficial. Dance and sing to music rather than putting a song on the speaker and walking away. A number of these actions will begin to develop the child's language but for some children, the assistance of professionals will be needed to begin language development. As audiologists we are a part of this team.

If a child has a hearing loss in some form or another, that means there is something blocking that hearing doorway to their brain. Ear issues in children can be taken lightly and even be pushed to the side but we must realize that this is an issue in actively training the brain, not just in the mechanics of the ear! We need to be taking care of this NOW and not later. The sooner we establish a hearing loss in kids the sooner we can find a way to start opening that doorway and begin developing their language. 

Tina and I are more than happy to assist with this at HearCare Connection so don't be shy and come see us! At the end of your appointment, your kids will be leaving with a book of their choice to promote language development and you'll be leaving feeling comforted and more knowledgeable about what you can do to help your children! Let's train these kids together so they can enjoy the little things in life like egg hunts before they're too old and it's socially unacceptable for them to run around the yard looking for plastic eggs (like me). 

Take care and I'll see you next week! 

-Olivia

 

Empowerment Comes from the Heart of the Audiologist

Post by Olivia Hahn:

Hello loyal HearCare Connection followers! Today is going to be your new favorite day of the week because it's... Magical Monday's with Olivia! Each week I will be taking over HCC's page with news about the office, patient stories, fun stuff that's been going on, pressing issues that I think should be addressed in the world of hearing, etc.

A little background on me: I am a senior at IPFW inching towards my bachelor's degree.I have committed my next four years to the University of Louisville where I will be earning my doctorate in audiology. I started as a volunteer at HCC last year and am now the Audiology Intern under the direct supervision of the fabulous Dr. Tina!

Last week, Tina and I went to the Audiology Now! convention in Indianapolis, IN. It was a span of several days where thousands of other people just like us joined to learn new techniques in the field, listen to other doctors'/students' research, take a look at new products on the market, and get advice as a student moving onto the next step in my career.

There was one class in particular that stood out to not only myself but to Tina as well. The title of the lecture: 'The Science of Being Repulsive: How to Avoid it'. As hearing loss specialists, our profession tends to have a pessimistic reputation because a key term that can come up in your visits with us is 'loss'. The lecture reminded us that our knowledge and expertise are actually EMPOWERING people to be able to do the things they love and become more involved in the world around them. There's also a stereotype that our services are geared towards the older generations. For some reason, this also can have a negative outlook and middle-aged, college students, etc. stray from the help they truly need. Well did you know that a majority of the people with hearing loss now are UNDER the age of 65?

Just remember that we are here to empower you, strengthen your relationships, and open that doorway to a brighter life! Let's transition the outlook on hearing help together. Thanks for reading and have a great week :)  -Olivia

It's not all about the numbers

Numbers are good.  They show progress.  They can encourage hard work.  They can give us the right expectations for growth every year.  However, numbers can never tell you the story of a person's life.  David came to us "ready to make some conversations with a bunch of people" but one thing was holding him back - he couldn't hear very well.  His hearing healthcare goals were to understand people speaking to him (regardless of the environment he was in) and to work on understanding the Burmese accent better.  David LOVES music.  He had been playing instruments his whole life and he is beginning to really enjoy classical music.  He was worried though because music seemed to sound more and more muffled.  

David did his volunteer hours at Science Central and had a chance to meet some really great people.  He was fit with his hearing aids this year.  He is enjoying the fullness of music again and he is having some "great conversations" with friends and neighbors.  He said that the hearing aids are not helping much with understanding someone with a Burmese accent but he wants to keep engaging those relationships.  David is 71 years old and still expects his life to be overflowing the possibilities and adventures!  So can you!

Twenty-four hearing aids fit this year?  Not bad.

Over $40,000 raised in donations this year?  Even better.

One person experiencing life in abundance?  That's the number we want to always strive to reach!  Together we can reach ONE!

Concordia Student on the Guatemala Hearing Mission

Written by Barb Sieminski

Last December, 17-year-old Gabrielle Layman of Fort Wayne got a tremendous Christmas gift from HearCare Connection – an all-expenses-paid mission trip to Guatemala!

         The Concordia Lutheran High School junior was speechless when she was notified that she had won the company’s essay contest underwritten by Widex, the world’s sixth-largest hearing aid manufacturer.

         “It felt amazing!” said Gabby, who took her first trip out of the country when she spent a week in Guatemala February 27-March 5, 2016.

         Regina, Gabby’s mother, had not thought the odds were in favor of her daughter’s winning the contest.

         “With the entire city of Fort Wayne’s high schoolers having the opportunity to submit an essay, it didn’t seem very likely,” said Regina.  “Once we had been selected as one of the top three, I had a good feeling about it, and the moment she told me she had won, all I felt was pride!  I think the judges saw that she was speaking from her heart and I couldn’t be more proud that she was chosen.”

         (Gabby’s essay can be viewed below)

         According to Anna Bogdon, HCC’s executive director, on the 2016 Hearing the Call: Guatemala Hearing Mission trip, her company partnered with 21 Alive, Entheos Audiology Cooperative and Woodland Public Charities to bring hearing healthcare to a developing region in Guatemala. On this trip they brought hearing aids and audiology care to the residents of Patanatic and the surrounding communities.

         This year, they included a spot on their team for one area high schooler for an all-expenses-paid mission trip upon winning their essay contest.  Each participant, 16 and over, was required to write a 300-word essay on what it meant to serve people in poverty.

         “Widex has been a tremendous supporter of HearCare Connection since our inception,” said Bogdon. “We are proud to be partnering with them locally in our clinic as well as joining forces with them for the Guatemala trip.  Widex's sponsorship not only will help to bring the Gift of Hearing around the globe but they are directly influencing the life of a local student as they participate on this trip. 

“The impact of this journey has the potential to direct the career of a young student.  Our heartfelt "Thank you!" goes to this tremendous partner!”

Though Gabby, who cites her favorite classes as English and band (she plays flute and piccolo), was naturally excited about her trip, her mother had some initial apprehensions.

“I absolutely was worried about sending Gabrielle to a foreign country,” said Regina.  

“Anna had warned us about some of the precautions being taken to be safe while out of the country, but it made me nervous to think about why they had to be taken. I have a friend at church who adopted a child from Guatemala. She told me stories of her experiences in the country and it worried me to send my blonde-headed child to a country where she would stick out so much. However, I knew that if this was what God was calling Gabrielle to do, he would keep her safe. I couldn't let my fear get in God's way of teaching my daughter what He wanted her to learn.”

Bringing home an abundance of memories Gabby recalls one that was especially hilarious.

 “Anna, Sandy – a lady from Fort Wayne – and I went on a taxi ride around the block, and Sandy got out at every place we stopped to take pictures,” said Gabby.  “She especially wanted to get a picture of some ladies making tortillas in a little shop but they kept saying ‘NO,’ which made Sandy mad, so she yelled ‘¡Buenas noches!’ to them in a mean way, which means ‘Good night’ in Spanish.  It was funny because she said a nice thing in an unpleasant way.

“Also, when we went across the lake for our last clinic day, we had to ride in pickup trucks to get to the church.  Well, the trucks had bars that went on the tops of them.  We had to stand up and hold onto the bars while the truck went up very steep hills – we were all packed in like sardines but it was a lot of fun!”

“Another memorable story involves a boy named Christian.  He was 6 years old and had never heard sound before, and because of that, he couldn’t talk.  When the HCC team fitted him with hearing aids, I got to witness him hear for the first time AND say his first words.  It was phenomenal and after he was fitted with his hearing aids he went around the room and thanked everyone individually in sign language!”        

Gabby who wants to be a pediatric physical therapist, is looking at Concordia University of Wisconsin, Vincennes University, or Ohio State University to continue her education after graduation. 

“My trip was just outstanding and so much fun,” enthused Gabby, who knew a little Spanish prior to her journey.   

“Guatemala is a beautiful country, and it was eye-opening and humbling to be there.  Trips like these are important because poor people need help and God’s love and Word need to be spread to the rest of the world.  I really grew in my faith, too.

“Also, my trip made me realize how lucky I am to have what I have. It made me realize how much I take simple things, like hearing, for granted. It made me realize that I need to change how I act and to be more appreciative.”

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Gabby’s winning essay

To serve people in poverty is to help them have a better life. To help them see that the world isn't all bad and that there are people willing and ready to help them. It's to give them hope for a better future. Hope is the only thing that people in poverty have to keep them going every day. Just like a single mom hopes for a miracle. That's what people in poverty need. A miracle. I want to be that miracle. I want to help them and give them hope. To get the opportunity to watch people hear for the first time would be life changing. This is a once in a lifetime chance that I would get to take. Knowing that I would be a miracle for someone and change their life would be awesome. People in poverty deserve everything that we have here in America. They need as much help from us as they can get. I believe that it's almost mandatory for us to help them out. They're equal people, they're not below or above us in any way. They deserve to be healthy, clean, and to hear and speak every day just like we do. We need to help them get back on their feet and give them hope and the chance for a new, better life. I want to play a part in that. I want to make a difference. I want to change the world. 

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