Our 2022 Gift of Hearing Recipients
Being able to hear your life – the voices of those you love, music that moves your soul and so much more – is the difference between connecting and being isolated. Not being able to hear well can put your relationships at risk, put your health in danger and take away some of the activities you loved to do.
Not everyone has access to hearing aids to improve the quality of their hearing. Many of life’s circumstances can hinder access and we’re proud to deliver the Gift of Hearing to people in Ontario who need it.
In spring 2022, five Ontarians received the Gift of Hearing from Hear Well Be Well. Each of them was a pleasure to meet. Their lives have changed for the better. We thank all the media that provided information about nominating and especially thank Beltone Canada for their support. We also can’t forget to thank our clients who’s support helps make this happen.
Meaford Gift of Hearing Recipients
Our Meaford staff knew Norma McCauley and Colleen Bousfield before their Gift of Hearing experience. As members of a tight-knit community, Norma and Colleen had support but not the ability to get the hearing aids that could change their lives.
“I do a lot of volunteering. At the food program, hospital auxiliary, at church,” Norma said. “When you can’t hear what people are saying, it’s uncomfortable. Nobody wants to admit they can’t hear.”
McCauley was nominated twice for the Gift of Hearing award. One of the nominators for McCauley was former mayor, Francis Richardson. “I wouldn’t have been able to do my public service job without hearing aids,” Francis explained.
“Hearing is so incredibly important. And these kinds of programs are incredibly important for a community. It’s important to look after each other.”
“This came at a good time,” Colleen stated.
“I have so many things happening in my life. I’m so thankful. It’s so important for me to be able to hear my grandson.
And to hear music again. It helps me relax.”
Orangeville Gift of Hearing Recipient
Michael Lindsay of Shelburne, ON, knew he had hearing loss since he was in his 20s.
“I’ve noticed hearing loss since I was in my early 20s,” Michael explained. “But I was stubborn. I bluffed my way through conversations; I learned to lip-read as best I could.
“I was a reckless teenager with big headphones and loud music,” he added. “I was in a couple bands, playing drums, as well as doing studio work. Back in the day when drummers had giant speakers pointed right at them and no hearing protection.
The hearing loss affected his drumming abilities.
“Where it really started to affect me was in keeping time,” he stated. “My brain knew what to do and my body knew what to do but I was missing the syncopation. When the specialist at Hear Well Be Well said you don’t hear with your ears, you hear with your brain, it really helped me start understanding my hearing loss.”
Michael’s family felt the impact of his hearing loss. He had trouble hearing his children with their voices sounding like mumbles when there was background noise and certain voice tones were a struggle.
“I have four kids, three of them autistic, and I need to hear them,” he said. “This is going to change my life dramatically – being able to hear again.
“I can stop pretending everything’s okay.”
Michael added that everything he does is for his family and he’s pleased his wife, Ashley, who nominated him for the Gift of Hearing, won’t have to interpret for him anymore and his children won’t have to change any of their behaviours to accommodate his hearing loss.
“I’ll be both a better husband and better father because I won’t be so frustrated and I won’t miss things,” Michael added.
He became a bit philosophical about his good fortune at being a recipient of Gift of Hearing and about hearing in general.
“Your hearing is the last thing you think about,” he said. “There comes a time when you learn wisdom comes with age. I look at where I am in life and now know you need to look after yourself.
“I feel better about who I am. And this is probably adding another 30 to 40 years of happy experiences for me.”
London Gift of Hearing Recipients
Carlie Forsythe and Annie Young have both had long-term hearing challenges.
Carlie was nominated by two of her co-workers. She was born with deformed cochlea so hearing impairment has been part of her life since birth.
“I wore hearing aids from age two to 12,” Carlie explained. “But as a teenager, I wanted to be ‘normal’. It took me a lot of years to deal with the ableist notions.”
COVID restrictions – masks and plexiglass barriers – created additional challenges for Carlie, who works at the Fanshawe College library.
“My hearing seemed to be getting worse,” she said. “Barriers and masks created situations where my co-workers had to come and help me know what students were looking for. I just wasn’t able to communicate well with others.”
Carlie’s partner, Ariel Gavronski, added, “During COVID, Carlie has felt the most disabled she ever has in her whole life. She couldn’t go to the bank on her own, for example. I had to go with her because masks and barriers made it so hard for her.”
Annie has struggled with hearing loss for over 20 years. A victim of domestic abuse during which her hearing was damaged, she now works in a retirement home. Asking people to always repeat themselves made it harder to do her job.
“I’m a personal support worker (PSW),” Annie explained. “I had strategies to mostly make it work: lip-reading, eye contact, body language. Now I can be more efficient.”
Annie came to Canada 13 years ago. She is so grateful to live here.
“I’m so grateful for the Gift of Hearing as well,” she added. “It’s more precious than the lottery.”