North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
November 28, 2016
          Think Christmas, cont.: Sign up now for the special Dec. 12 Christmas lunch at the Lincoln Center.  President-elect Chad Haverkamp is collecting names of club members, spouses, and other guests for the annual holiday event.
          Gift coordinator Sandy Fink reminds that gifts from club members to needy Holmes families are due Dec.5. Members should limit total spending to $35 for each child, so children in the same families do not receive more or less than others.
          Gifts should be wrapped, labeled and signed with the giver’s name or “Rotary North.” The code letter for each family should be listed on the outside of packages.  Sandy asks that gift “letters be put on the back of the gift name tags.”
Kids with hearing-loss problems find HOPE
          For infants, toddlers and pre-school students with serious hearing difficulties, there is HOPE.
          Club members on Nov. 28 visited the Hearing Oral Program of Excellence on the Riverpoint campus.  Members heard about the region’s only “LSL” (listening and spoken language) program from Executive Director Danette Driscoll and Development Director Kim Schaffer.
          Driscoll said state law requires that hearing of newborns must be tested “before they leave the hospital.”  HOPE offers a “new birth to three” program for infants born with hearing defects or who develop hearing-loss problems from ear infections or other maladies.  A specialized teacher works with the infants and toddlers in the family’s home.
          For preschoolers using the new, remarkable hearing aid and cochlear implant technology, HOPE offers a sophisticated early-learning program to develop listening and language skills suitable for a smooth transition to regular school kindergarten.
          Club members on the field trip watched from a sound-proofed observation room as a teacher worked with five youngsters on developing new communication skills.
          Schaffer related her own experience with a daughter rendered deaf by meningitis at 2 ½ months old.  After a cochlear implant at age 3 “her world literally opened up,” Schaffer said.
          The developmental path had potholes, she said.  Her daughter was in a magnet school with sign language, which did not work well, then in a “mainstream program, where she got very frustrated.”  Finally, parents battling similar circumstances grouped together and found the Riverpoint campus had research space to deal with the common problems.
          “Much of the important brain development occurs from age 3 to 6,” Schafer said.  “Children need to develop and use these (hearing and language) skills to be successful. With hearing loss, literacy gets tanked,” Schafer said.
           Driscoll, who worked in Mead schools for 10 years, said educators know that trying to reduce the high-school drop-out rate with programs in high school “is too late.”  Likewise, that’s why having pre-school programs for kids with hearing loss is important.
          “My ‘aha’ is where would these kids be if they didn’t have this (HOPE) program,” Driscoll said.
          “Public schools can’t afford to have the programs we do.  Maybe they just have a sign language program,” she said.  “HOPE has two specialized teachers of the deaf.  School District 81 has one.”
          HOPE operates on a $420,000 annual budget and has three full-time staff members, said Driscoll, who is part-time herself.  HOPE teachers are paid on a par with public school teachers, but do not have a retirement program and some of the other teacher benefits, she said.
          The agency’s big fund raiser is its annual Hoedown for Hope, which provided $110,000 this year, Driscoll said.  Spokane North Rotary contributed $1,000 this year to HOPE.
          The major challenge is finding new space.  While HOPE has been at Riverpoint for 13 years, after the current lease expires “the medical school is coming in and we are looking for a new home,” Driscoll said, adding, “We also will have about $20,000 in expenses to fill the new home with equipment.”
          But the last thing HOPE would do is, well, give up hope.
The bulletin producers:
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Program coordinator: Brad Stark