Erna Stassen and Walter Scheidegger, members of Salmon Arm Toastmasters, are excited about the club’s 40th anniversary celebrations. (Leah Blain photo)

Column: Club gives a toast to 40 talkative years

Friends and Neighbours by Leah Blain

Erna Stassen and Walter Scheidegger, members of Salmon Arm Toastmasters, are excited about the club’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

As they made plans to celebrate their 40th anniversary, the Salmon Arm Toastmasters Club booked tables at the Shuswap Grill. As it turns out, it was a nice coincidence says Walter Scheidegger, the club treasurer.

“When they had their first meeting in March 1979, they had it at the Salmon Arm Motor Hotel. I just happened to see that.”

Forty years ago, Shuswap Grill was the Motor Hotel. One of the ladies who was at that inaugural meeting will be attending the celebration and, naturally, she was given a job.

“Ellen Hammer will be going to do a toast,” says Walter. (Learning to give a toast is one of the skills they teach.)

Over the years, the numbers have ebbed and flowed, at times as many as 30 members and sometimes as low as 12.

Walter has been with the club for almost half that time. Back in 1999 he wanted to get more involved in the community.

“I was also interested in joining Search & Rescue but they needed more of a time commitment.”

Toastmasters had an open house and it didn’t take much convincing for him to sign up.

“I’ve had to speak in public and I was super nervous. I had stomach upset for days before. When you can’t concentrate on what you want to say and what you’re thinking it reflects on your message.”

He was surprised at how quickly confidence came.

Erna Stassen joined in October 2017 for much the same reason. During her 25-years as a physiotherapist she saw more and more need for people to work on their mindset, so she switched her career to life-coach.

“My dream, my passion is to empower people so I do lots of videos online and I wanted to do more speeches on how to improve and empower lives.”

Read more: Speaking up

Read more: Club helps members speak out

Her dream was somewhat hampered by her shyness and because she was, “terrified of being in the spotlight.”

She joined Tostmasters and it wasn’t long before she noticed a difference in her confidence and her messaging.

“It’s important for personal development. You learn to listen and I’ve learned to be a really good listener, and it has helped me in my career.”

Erna says Toastmasters hasn’t changed its focus in helping people with their interpersonal skills, but it has expanded to help people whose focus is online communication.

Walter and Erna are hoping people who have been thinking about joining will use this fun celebration to see what the club is all about. There will be dinner, cake and, of course, speeches that promise to entertain.

“Bruce Singbeil is giving a humorous speech, it’s the funniest speech I’ve ever heard,” says Walter.

The 40th anniversary celebration takes place Thursday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Shuswap Grill. There is a buffet dinner followed by speeches. For more information, visit the website salmonarmtm.com. Weekly meetings are at 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Askew’s Uptown community room.


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