The Macomb Daily
Northeastern Toastmasters celebrate 75th anniversary
Second-oldest chapter in state continues to hone public speaking skills
In this time where so much communication happens electronically, it would seem public speaking and face-to-face interaction are not necessities.
But Wendy Bradley says on the 75th anniversary of the Toastmasters Northeastern Club 573, the skills members learn through the club are more important than ever.
“We have a lot of members who are trying to improve speaking skills for work and for making presentations, but what you learn here really helps in so many aspects of life,” said Bradley.
Delivering a eulogy, wedding toast, or retirement party speech are all things that can be learned through Toastmasters. Learning to incorporate humor into public speaking is another specialty members can learn.
“It is really just a good opportunity for people of all ages to get up and speak,” said Bradley. “For some people, getting up in front of people and talking is scary.
“You see people in the club grow and progress and get more confident.”
The Northeastern Toastmasters Club is the second oldest in Michigan (behind only Grand Rapids) and began meeting in 1948 at the Northeastern YMCA. The club currently meets every second and fourth Monday, 6:45 p.m. at the Wayne County Community College location on Vernier Road in Harper Woods. All meetings are in the school’s auditorium and have a hybrid option to enable people to attend remotely if so desired.
Bradley joined the group in 1985 when she was a psychologist for an agency that serviced foster care and group homes. She was impressed with the voice projection skills of a co-worker when making presentations. The co-worker told Bradley she learned the skill at Toastmasters.
“I decided then and there that I had to join Toastmasters to become as proficient a speaker as she was,” said Bradley. “I never regretted the decision; Toastmasters has helped me immensely, professionally and personally.”
Bradley said she would probably not be a lector at her church today were it not for her Toastmasters membership.
“When news about the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church broke, our priest wanted to hear from parishioners,” said Bradley. “I was able to get up and give my opinion and I don’t know if I could have done that without Toastmasters.”
One of the club’s newer members, Anitra Blake, credits her participation in Toastmasters for getting promotions with the United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Michigan and the Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Workforce Management and Consulting,
Another newer member, Karen Solomon-Edwards, joined Toastmasters with the hope of serving as an effective volunteer advocate for the National Kidney Foundation. She is a kidney transplant recipient and wanted to share her journey on a national stage.
When Bradley first joined Toastmasters in 1985, she noted most members were older white men in business suits. The club has evolved so much since then, Bradley said, and has become much more diverse in terms of membership as well as types of public speaking and communications skills people can polish.
“We socialize and talk before and after the meeting and part of the meeting always includes someone throwing out a topic and people speaking about it kind of spontaneously,” said Bradley. “We also do written and oral evaluations of people’s speeches and when you do that, you really have to listen so being a Toastmasters member improves listening skills too.”
The Northeastern Toastmasters Club is planning a 75th anniversary celebration in June, but details about the event have not been finalized. Membership dues are $45 every six months which entitles members to online training, in-person meetings, and other benefits.
“There is really something for everyone,” said Bradley.