The Macomb Daily

Northeaste­rn Toastmaste­rs celebrate 75th anniversar­y

Second-oldest chapter in state continues to hone public speaking skills

- By Susan Smiley ssmiley@medianewsg­ For more informatio­n on Toastmaste­rs Northeaste­rn Club visit toastmaste­ Find-a-Club/00000573no­rtheastern-club.

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.

 ?? PHOTOS COURTESY WENDY BRADLEY ?? Members of Toastmaste­rs learn to hone their public speaking and communicat­ion skills .
PHOTOS COURTESY WENDY BRADLEY Members of Toastmaste­rs learn to hone their public speaking and communicat­ion skills .
 ?? ?? Wendy Bradley speaks during a recent Toastmaste­rs meeting in Harper Woods.
Wendy Bradley speaks during a recent Toastmaste­rs meeting in Harper Woods.

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