Norwich Open House Success!

Maroon banner announcing an open house on 17 April 2024,  in front of a range of photos depicting guests and speakers from the event.

On Thursday, April 17th, 2024, Norwich Toastmasters club held an open house at Chelsea Groton Bank in Norwich. We had 19 attendees, including 6 guests at our club meeting. Of our six guests, we had one guest from District 38 who gave a speech and our District 53 District Director, Distinguished Toastmaster Patti Walter.

To get us started, Ed Watkins, our Toastmaster of the Day, introduced our technicians that were filled by members from both Norwich Toastmasters club and our sister club, Colonel Ledyard Toastmasters. This meeting focused on spreading the word about Toastmasters and what Toastmasters has to offer. If you are looking for somewhere to challenge yourself to grow personally and professionally, you need to check out Toastmasters, as we all know the number-one fear is public speaking. The first section of the meeting focused on prepared speeches. At this meeting, we had three electrifying speakers!

  • The first speaker this evening was Christine Gabel, her speech was titled, “Find Your Voice, What Norwich Toastmasters Can Do for You?”. Christine’s speech was a very compelling speech about Toastmasters and what it has to offer, to help you find your voice because Toastmasters is an affordable continuing education that teaches you skills and allows you to practice them in a positive and supportive environment without fear of failure. Christine is new to Toastmasters and it is very evidence she is passionate about Toastmasters.
  • Our second speaker, Dennis Stevens, gave his speech titled, “Be Brave!” Dennis joined the club this past February and is already giving his 3rd speech. Dennis was inspired to give this speech after attending several club meetings and notice people refrain from participating. He talked about what does bravery mean? in reference to public speaking. He told us about the tale of two arrows in Buddhism. The first arrow we can’t always control, but the second is our response to the first arrow. He ended by giving us suggestions on how to handle our fear of failure and challenged us to let go of our fear, be brave and start right now by volunteering for Table Topics.

Photo provided by Christine (Christine and Mary were missing from the photo)

  • Our final speaker was Frank Vowinkel from Lehigh Valley Toastmasters in Pennsylvania, a club in District 38. Frank came to practice his contest speech titled, “The Funcle”, and to receive informal feedback prior to competing at his District’s Humorous Speech Contest. It was a hilarious story on how he was the fun uncle. His niece and nephew are so lucky to have a Funcle!!! We wish him all the best at the contest and look forward to hear how he placed.

We then moved to the impromptu section of the meeting, Table Topics. This part of the meeting allows us to practice thinking on our feet. Darrell Fox, our Table Topics Master, introduced school days as the theme for this session. Darrell asked questions about favorite teachers, best school topics, favorite toys and/or activities when we were all growing up. It was a lot of fun!

The final section of the meeting was evaluations led by our General Evaluator, Nate Jaycox. In this section we received constructive feedback to help us continue to improve our skills. Toastmasters provides a positive and supportive environment to allow us to learn and practice without fear of failure.

Are you looking to improve your communication skills? Are you looking to become a more effective leader? Are you looking for somewhere to challenge yourself to grow personally and professionally? If you answer yes to any of these questions, please attend our next Toastmasters club meeting in person or online.

DATE: Wednesday, May 1st

TIME: 7-8:30 pm

IN PERSON LOCATION:

  • The Congregational Church of Salem
    at the Community Building across the street from the church.
    244 Hartford Road
    Salem, Connecticut 06420

ONLINE ZOOM:

  • LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84732872267?pwd=ZlZ1ODFYZzNySjBOVjR2UnN2aGFTZz09
  • Meeting ID: 847 3287 2267
  • Passcode: 4779255

For more information about the upcoming club meeting, contact Dennis Stevens at 760-802-4103 or Sharon Mercado at 860-367-4195.

Communication & Leadership Award 2024

For immediate release —

District 53 is pleased to announce the 2024 recipient of its Communication and Leadership Award. The Communication and Leadership Award is presented by the District to a non-Toastmaster in the community who is an outstanding communicator or leader.  The recipient will have distinguished himself/herself as a leader or spokesperson for a worthy cause or purpose, especially as it exemplified their communication and leadership skills. 

Alisa Klein, Executive Director of Grow Food Northampton (GFN), manages and stewards access to farmland and healthy food to create what they call a “local food system” in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. The organization: 

  • Offers 320 organic community garden plots on six acres to provide gardening space to 400 community members; 
  • Leases prime farmland and provides infrastructure and resources to ten small farms on the 121-acre Grow Food Northampton Community Farm;
  • Manages year-long weekly farmers markets to connect local farms directly with customers;
  • Runs a free mobile farmers market that, weekly, delivers fresh local produce and other quality ingredients to hundreds of individuals and families grappling with food insecurity and hunger;
  • Operates a Giving Garden that grows and donates thousands of pounds of organic produce annually to local food pantries and community meal sites; and
  • Conducts collaborative research projects with academics and others on sustainable and climate resilience-enhancing agricultural practices.
Alisa Klein, executive director of Grow Food Northampton, and recipient of the 2024 District 53 Communication and Leadership Award
Alisa Klein,
executive director
Grow Food Northampton

On the Community Farm, GFN leases land to farmers who have traditionally been denied access to farmland, including refugees from war-torn places like Somalia, women farmers, and others. In addition to its farm-based Community Garden, GFN has established community gardens at nine public housing communities to enable low-income families to have access to green spaces and grow their own food. Working together with local business sponsors, Grow Food Northampton doubles the purchasing power of low-income individuals so they can afford more healthy local foods at GFN’s farmers markets. The organization also collaborates with the local school system to deliver hands-on education about nutrition, cooking with locally grown food, and gardening to all K-12 students, while also offering workshops to adults on a variety of local food system-related topics. 

Ms. Klein is a long-time activist and community organizer working on issues as diverse, yet interconnected, as the climate emergency and peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. She has been deeply involved in bringing restorative and transformative justice models to addressing harm in communities. Between 2014 and 2020, Alisa served as a Northampton, Massachusetts, city councilor where she established a Select Committee on Pesticide Reduction and wrote and sponsored legislation to prohibit the use of pesticides in municipal spaces. She has a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a Master’s in International Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Alisa Klein will receive the award at the District 53 Annual Conference in Southbury, CT, on May 11, 2024.

District 53 Toastmasters is an administrative unit of Toastmasters International that supports the Toastmasters clubs in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, and the Albany, Hudson Valley and upper triangle of New York State. Clubs are open to all adults 18 years of age and older through the payment of membership fees; all members of clubs are members of District 53 Toastmasters. You can find a club near you through the Find a Club feature, or learn how to Start a Club in your community or in your corporate or government environment.

2023-2024 Candidate Showcase Agenda

Candidate Showcase

9 April 2024 – 7:00 pm

  • Chair: Andrew B. Watt, DTM
    Past District Director
  • Co-Chair: Jeff Sobel, DTM
    Past International Director
  • Functionaries
    • Sergeant at Arms: John J. Hogan, DTM Immediate Past District Director
    • Zoom Master: Norm Thibodeau, DTM
      District Administration Manager
    • Zoom Master: Zachary Fisk, PM4
      District Public Relations Manager
    • Timer #1: Tom Farrelly, DTM
      District Parliamentarian
    • Timer #2: Steve Lanning, DTM
      Area 43 Director, Club Coach Chair

Candidates

  • District Director: Bettyann Peck
  • Program Quality Director: Mohan Padamati
  • Club Growth Director: Jackie Kessler
  • Division A Director: Melanie Lee
  • Division B Director: Scott R. Davis
  • Division C Director:
  • Division D Director: Stephanie Roy
  • Division E Director: Elizabeth Keeling

Candidate Biographical Forms can be found on the web at https://d53tm.org/district-officer-candidates/

Presenters:

  • Morag Mathieson, DTM
    • International President 2023-2024
  • Angela Chute, DTM
    • District Director of District 45 2023-2024
  • Laura St. Louis, DTM
    • District Director of District 62 2023-2024
  • Matthew Storms, IP3
    • Club President of West-Conn Toastmasters 2023-2024
    • President’s Distinguished Club
  • Mary Angel, PM3
    • Club President of Dutchess County Toastmasters
    • Select Distinguished Club

Agenda

TimeEventSpeakers
6:30 pmRoom Opens to All Participants
7:00 pmCall To Order & WelcomeJohn J. Hogan
7:02 pmOpening Remarks by Co-ChairsAndrew B. Watt
Jeff Sobel
7:08 pmInterviews with Candidates
District Director candidateBettyann Peck
– Morag Mathieson, interviewer
Program Quality Director candidatesRick May
– Angela Chute, interviewer
Mohan Padamati
– Angela Chute
interviewer
Club Growth Director candidateJackie Kessler
– Laura St. Louis, interviewer
Division A Director candidateMelanie Lee
– Mary Angel, interviewer
Division B Director candidateScott E. Davis
– Matthew Storms, interviewer
Division C Director candidateRick May
Mary Angel, announcer
Division D Director candidateStephanie Roy
– Matthew Storms, interviewer
Division E Director candidateElizabeth Keeling
– Mary Angel, announcer
Including equipment tests and transitions, each candidate should take approximately 5-6 minutes including 4 minutes of timed responses.
8:05 pm Concluding Remarks by the Co-ChairsAndrew B. Watt
Jeff Sobel
8:15 pmAdjournment
Candidate Corner to follow for approximately a half hour, ending no later than 9:00 pm

The Candidate Showcase is a formal annual event at which candidates for District office have an opportunity to show themselves and answer curated questions before an audience.

The Candidate Corner which follows is an informal event at which candidates for District office may meet one-on-one or meet in small groups with interested Toastmasters and engage in dialogue.

Both the Candidate Showcase and Candidate Corner are governed by rules laid down in Protocol 9.0 of the Toastmasters Governing Documents.

Marketing Campaign

Hello District 53 Club Officers,

I am writing to let you know that District 53 is partnering with Toastmasters International by participating in a global marketing campaign.

This campaign will begin on 8 January 2024 and run for 90 days until 7 April 2024.  It will consist of using brand recognition advertising on LinkedIn to educate prospective members about Toastmasters.  In order for this to be successful we need everyone’s assistance.  Here is how.

  1. Please check your Find A Club information at Toastmaster International and make sure all the information is correct
  2. Respond to all inquiries within 48 hours.  If you are a restricted club and unable to take this lead please forward to me at dd@d53tm.org. This is the most important part as it can make or break the success of the campaign
  3. If you receive the ad in your LinkedIn account please pass it on, and pass it on again and pass it on even one more time.  The more hits we get the better our chances at a success rate.

One of the benefits of this campaign is that I am able to receive reports on how we are doing.  This gives us the opportunity to maintain an open discussion on campaign progress.

I am including resources to assist you with this campaign. 

The Global Advertising Campaign—2024 Webinar recording to learn the objectives, user journey, campaign goals, and new ads that will be running in your District. The best practices learned will also be highlighted.

The straightforward Global Advertising Campaign Preparation Tips

The Prospective Member Conversion Guide. This valuable resource will help guide clubs to converting prospective members to members, contributing to the growth of your clubs. 

The Prospective Member Follow-Up Email template to use as you reply to prospects in a timely, consistent manner

Finally, please share this message with all your club members and ask them to assist too.  The more the merrier.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and all that you do each and every day for your clubs, your members and yourself.

Happy New Year.

Sincerely,
Patti Walter, DTM
District Director, 2023-2024
DD@d53tm.org

Preparing for Changes to Pathways!

Pathways Changes – How to Prepare

Fellow Toastmasters,

Long requested and awaited changes to Pathways, the Toastmasters education program, are coming in 2024!  This is great news.  However, there will be a transition period where some patience will be needed.  

Per a recent advisory from the Toastmasters International Education team, Pathways BaseCamp managers (typically the club VPE) have been requested to ensure that all Pathways level completion requests and the associated award requests in Club Central be in sync and up to date by December 15, 2023.  If any level completions or awards are submitted after that or the 2 systems are not in sync, there may be impacts to the DCP credit for member level completion awards.

All members should prepare for these changes as follows.

  1. Submit completion approval requests for any Pathways levels already completed by Monday, December 11.
  2. For any paths completed after December 11, hold off on submitting the completion request until we are informed that it is OK to do so.
  3. Each member should check to make sure their Pathways completions and awards are in sync. Learn how in this short video prepared by Toastmasters International.  Inform your VPE of any discrepancies found immediately.
  4. You can continue to work on your path projects — just don’t submit any new approval requests during the transition period.

More news about the improvements to the Pathways education system will be announced as it becomes available.

Sincerely,
Norm Thibodeau, DTM
District Administrative Manager, 2023-2024

Want to learn more?  Here are a few references:

Conference Committee announced

District 53 Spring Conference Committee

District 53’s Spring Conference Committee for 2024 will be headed by David Freedman and Richard Peck. David has been leading conferences all through the pandemic years, and Richard brings years of high-level experience at the highest levels of Toastmasters International to this effort.

The District 53 Spring Conference Committee for 2024 is looking for eager members to serve on this year’s committee. It’s a great learning opportunity and will add great leadership skills. Serving on this committee can also be used as a High-Performance Leadership project or DTM Project in Pathways.  We have many possible positions within the committee. If you’d like to be part of the dynamic team that brings a quality event to the members of District 53, please email conference co-chairs David Freedman & Richard Peck at: confchair@d53tm.org

A Change in Status for CATC

Founded in 2009, Capital Advanced Toastmasters Club is proud to be the Capital District’s only advanced club. The Executive Committee and club membership has recently voted and would like to announce that the club has decided to embark on a brand-new journey as an open, community club with no membership restrictions.

We are focused on communication and leadership skills, both basic and beyond the basics offered by most clubs! Let us help YOU with Level 4 and 5 & DTM projects or we can help you get started as a brand-new Toastmaster. Our next meeting is Monday, October 2nd at 6:30pm Eastern Time.

Please visit our website for more information. https://1360121.toastmastersclubs.org/

Recognizing Cyber Fraud (Workshop)

Wednesday October 4, 2023
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET
Zoom Recording
(see link below)

Join keynote speaker Joe Audet and District 53 officers for this workshop on understanding the risks and types of cyber-fraud that either you or your club may be subjected to.  An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure!  You’ll learn about some of the major types of internet-based schemes that are used to separate you from your money, including phishing, gift-card scams, fraudulent voicemails, malware attacks, and more.  Your best protection isn’t to rely on just one method of defense on the internet — you’re better off knowing the risks yourself, and taking steps to avoid them.  Come and educate yourself to protect both yourself and your club!

Keynote Joe Audet, CC CL, has been a member of Toastmasters for ten years. He’s been an IT professional for 27 years, operating as a systems administrator, website manager, programmer, and security engineer. He resides in western Massachusetts.

The District is offering this workshop immediately after a spate of cyber-fraud efforts deliberately targeting District Officers, Club Officers and Members. Know the risks, understand how YOU can protect yourself, and teach your fellow club members and families! Put it on your calendar and plan to attend, today!

From the PQD – 22 May 2023

D53 had its first successful hybrid conference.  SPRINGBOARD to Success. What a great weekend! If you were not able to join us, let me recap what we did.

After a continental breakfast at the Springfield Sheraton — Monarch Place hotel on Saturday 6 May 2023, we jumped right in with our Keynote Speaker Joe Grondin. Joe spoke about developing our signature: how do you develop your own unique voice and presentation style?

Our members then were able to choose one of our three great breakout sessions to attend. Thank your Mary Cheyne, Ann Canfield and Heather LaPierre for your great sessions. 

We continued after our breakout with our tall tale contest. Boy do we have members who can tell some tales.  Our D53 Tall Tales Winners were:

  1. Christine Austin
  2. Poonam Hassija
  3. Kevin Haven

Then at lunch we presented our Communication and Leadership Award to Patricia Nicolari, founder and executive director of PROUD Academy.  Patricia spoke about the work that she does with passion and conviction, demonstrating again why she deserved our recognition and honor.

After lunch we continued on with our second set of breakout session. Again we had great sessions from Heather Turner, Steve Lanning and Stephanie Roy.  Thank you all.

After a break, Joe Grondin returned to the stage as he talked to us about Mrs. Elliot’s  Lessons. Joe shared with us the four leadership lessons his favorite teacher taught him at a time he needed it most.   Joe also shared some great memories he had with his students and family.  Both his sessions were educational, relatable and entertaining.

We concluded the afternoon session with the hall of fame awards for both the 2022-2023 and 2021-2022 program years. Congratulations to the following recipients of the awards for 2021-2022

  • Division Director of the Year Beth Van Kempen
  • Area Director of the Year Elizabeth Keeling
  • Toastmaster of the Year Jackie Kessler

We also announce the 2022-2023 award winners. They are:

  • Division Director of the Year Chad Babcock
  • Area Director of the Year Stephanie Roy
  • Toastmaster of the Year  Elizabeth Keeling

At the conclusion of the Hall of Fame, our International Director for Region 9, who represents us to the Toastmasters Board, Jeff Sobel DTM, swore into office the following District 53 officers for the 2023-2024 Toastmasters International program year:

  • Patti Walter, DTM  — District Director
  • Bettyann Peck, DTM — Program Quality Director
  • Mohan Padamati, DTM — Club Growth Director
  • Stephanie Roy — Division A Director
  • Ebru Unal — Division B Director
  • Selina Torjee — Division C Director
  • Mark Wing — Division D Director
  • Elizabeth Keeling — Division E Director

Congratulations to all!

A happy hour followed, then a wonderful dinner.  Our after-dinner entertainment was brought to you by our Division International Speech Contest Winners, as they competed for the title of District 53’s International Speech Contest championship.   These five came to the contest ready to go! Congratulations to all our contestants at club, Area, Division, and District levels.

Our winners were:

  1. Michael Whitehouse
  2. Donna Plen
  3. Craig Moore

We concluded on Sunday with a warm breakfast, out of this park networking and a final keynote from Joe,  who left us all dancing in our chairs.

You might be saying, “Oh, I missed you all!” Don’t worry… we were having to much fun to notice you weren’t there. But you can join us in May 2024, when the next amazing conference rolls around! Buy your ticket in February, and I’ll see you there!

In the meantime please join us for some officer training coming up in June and July, or join us for Train the Trainer sessions if you’d like to be a facilitator this year.  Psst— you don’t need to be an officer to go to training!  It is open to all.  

Yours in Toastmasters service,
Patti Walter, DTM —
Program Quality Director, 2022-2023

Seminar on Community Forums

The Division E Public Relations Team is excited to announce that we are hosting a seminar on  how to use AmericanTowns.com and NextDoor.com to publicize your Toastmasters Club and help gain new members. Lisa Morahan, of the Saratoga Turf Talkers Toastmasters Club will demonstrate how to use AmericanTowns.com to share press releases with local media outlets (such as the Times Union, Saratogian, etc) and how to get the word out about your club on NextDoor.com!  Expected duration of the seminar is approximately 45 minutes.  Zoom meeting information is below.

Zoom Meeting Link
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82421023155?pwd=WWNOREFBR1IxRnhYQk9La0RENFplUT09

Meeting ID: 824 2102 3155
Passcode: 787497