(Past events are archived in MEMORY LANE)


February 24, 2020

In an annual tradition that's been running for over ten years, members of Valley Town Toastmasters made a presentation to students at Mohawk College about prepared and impromptu speeches.

This year's presentation was organized by club President Walter Lehman, left in photo, who drafted a precise agenda that was displayed on two projector screens and lauded by the student's professor as a model of excellence. Walter opened the presentation with a talk on the importance of effective messaging. 

Club member Tony Bratschitsch, centre in photo, followed with a ten-minute explanation of the value of saying "a few words to the right people at the right time".

Club Secretary Tom Shears, right in the top photo, gave a tutorial on the importance of impromptu speaking and he placed special emphasis on the "power of pauses".

The class of approximately 80 students reacted positively to the tips and suggestions provided by Walter, Tom and Tony.

This event was another successful effort by Valley Town Toastmasters to support the community.

Innovating the Valley Town Way!

Report by Walter Lehman, President; Photos by Darryl Hartwick, VP Education

On Friday, February 7, 2020, several members of Valley Town Toastmasters conducted a "Lunch & Learn" session in the Atrium of McMaster Innovation Park (MIP). Pictured in the above photo from left to right: Tom Shears, Walter Lehman, David Hayes, Theresa Horak and Peter Schwarz. Not in photo but in attendance: Katie Rees, Joanne Peters and Darryl Hartwick.

Several of Valley Town’s members, Theresa Horak, Peter Schwarz and Katie Rees, work out of MIP.  With the help of introductions and invitations by Theresa and her company LoAllay, Valley Town Toastmasters brought a condensed open house format to MIP. 

After a few opening remarks, Walter Lehman moderated a panel discussion that included David Hayes, Theresa Horak, Joanne Peters, and Peter Schwarz.  Panelists shared their personal experiences as a member of Toastmasters and described the many benefits.  The discussion included how Toastmasters helps to develop leadership and communication skills, along with a description of their own examples.

Tom Shears then masterfully conducted an impromptu speaking session.  Our own Katie Rees took the lead and showed guests how to participate in Table Topics!  After breaking the ice, several guests joined in, together with several of our own club members.

Thank you to Darryl Hartwick, VP Education, who attended and captured many great pictures and video of the event!

The "Lunch & Learn" session is an example of how Valley Town Toastmasters is trying to innovate the Valley Town way.  Not everyone is aware that Toastmasters is much more than just public speaking.  The "Lunch & Learn" was a first step in spreading the word about how Toastmasters can help meet the leadership and communication needs of entrepreneurs and others in a very cost effective and practical way.

It is hoped that Valley Town Toastmasters can work to build a long-term relationship with, and be a valuable resource for, those working out of MIP.  Following the event, Valley Town has already held discussions about the possibility of conducting a Speechcraft program at MIP.  This has the potential to be a real win-win scenario - Valley Town can help teach the very skills that entrepreneurs (including engineers and scientists) often need, while also providing a great avenue for our own members to deepen their own learning and complete meaningful projects through teaching.  A huge opportunity for growth and development for everyone!  In addition, Toastmasters can demonstrate that it can easily be valuable resource for those associated with innovation and entrepreneurship.

Thanks to all the team members of Valley Town Toastmasters team members that contributed to the event as we learn to “Innovate the Valley Town Way!”


January 16, 2020

The Area 51 International Speech & Evaluation Contests was well attended. Despite having only three clubs (Brant TM from Brantford, McMaster TM from west Hamilton and Valley Town TM from Dundas), the area contest drew a large audience who witnessed a well organized event.

Area 51 Director Ruth Larbie, right in photo, did a superb job in supporting the contest chairs Kelly Nash (left) and Emily Nichols (centre). These three leaders kept the contest moving flawlessly.

This was the first time that Kelly and Emily chaired an area contest. They are both members of Valley Town Toastmasters.

Congratulations to our club president, Walter Lehman, for winning the International Speech Contest. 

Walter is pictured holding the Golden Toaster which is symbolic of many good things within the camaraderie of our area's clubs and members. 

In this case, Walter, as winner of the Area 51 International Speech Contest, retained the Golden Toaster on behalf of Valley Town Toastmasters. The Golden Toaster was first introduced in an Area 51 contest almost nine years ago (May 8, 2011) in the same room.

Walter will represent Area 51 (and Valley Town Toastmasters) at the Division L International Speech Contest.

The top photo/art work was provided by Darryl Hartwick.

Valley Town Proud!


November 28, 2019

Valley Town Toastmasters conducted their annual International Speech Contest and Evaluation Contest.

Pictured in the upper photo from left to right: Lin Tian (Contest Chair), contestants Peter Schwarz, Karen Wood, Walter Lehman, Kelly Nash (Contest Chair), contestants Tony Bratschitsch, Emily Nichols and David Hayes in the front row.

Emily Nichols won the International Speech Contest with Walter Lehman placing second. They will both represent the club in the Area 51 Contest on January 16 being held in our club's meeting place.

Emily and Walter are pictured receiving their certificates from Chair Kelly Nash.

Tony Bratschitsch and Peter Schwarz will participate in the Area 51 Evaluation Contest on the same day.

Once again, Emily got to "kick butt" when Tony challenged (but failed) to win the International Speech Contest.

Our club enjoys "Laughing & Learning".

Congratulations to all of the contestants and thank you to all of our members for helping with the contests!


November 21, 2019

Every once in a while, our club has the good fortune of having a guest Toastmaster do a workshop on a special activity.

Toastmaster Lou Mulligan (past District 86 Area Director of the Year) provided an interactive workshop on preparing a speech within 15 minutes.

Judging by the above photo, it looks like Lou successfully got members enthusiastically involved. Left to right: Theresa Horac, Joanne Peters, Karen Wood, Lou Mulligan, Tom Shears and David Tomowich.

Thank you, Lou!


November 14, 2019

Club President Walter Lehman and Immediate Past President Karen Wood shared the presentation of the 2018-2019 President's Distinguished Club ribbon. The ribbon represents the club's educational and administrative achievements for the past year. 

It is the highest level of club award in the Toastmaster International program and is the second time that Valley Town Toastmasters has achieved it under Karen's leadership.

Essentially, this means that many members of our club did very well last year in improving their personal communication skills.

Valley Town Proud!


November 14, 2019

Emily Nichols has been on a roll! She received three educational awards from Vice President Education Darryl Hartwick: Level 3 Engaging Humour, Level 5 Presentation Mastery and All-Levels Presentation Mastery.

Emily has been applying her skills and talents in many different directions throughout the community.

Well done, Emily!


November 11, 2019

For many years, Valley Town Toastmasters has been participating in the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Dundas cenotaph. During each ceremony, when our club is announced, two of our members lay our club's wreath at the foot of the cenotaph.

Today, one of our two presenters was Randal Eastman (left in photo), a Dundas native who is currently residing in St. Petersburg, Russia and a member of a Toastmaster club in that city. Randal has been visiting our club during the past few weeks and has endeared himself to us.

Beside Randal is Walter Lehman, our club President.

Thank you to Kenrick Chin for the photo.

Valley Town Proud!

We will never forget!


The Golden Toaster has been "stolen" many times during the last eleven years within Area 51.

Below is the latest story as narrated by Emily Nichols:

"Valley Town Toastmasters maintains a friendly rivalry with other local clubs - we can visit one of our sister clubs in order to ‘steal’ the Golden Toaster. Then we get to keep it until another club ‘steals’ it from us. 

On Monday, October 28, four members of Valley Town Toastmasters
visited Brant Toastmasters and came home with the Golden Toaster and so much more. 

David Hayes won best Table Topics. Emily Nichols gave a prepared speech and Karen Wood and Walter Lehman also participated in Table Topics. 

And what a unique Table Topics it was! Table Topics Master Catherine Krouse challenged each speaker to give witness testimony as to the death of the gruesome dummy she laid out on the floor. The wildest explanation...that said character was none other than notorious Valley Town member Tony Bratschitsch.

We’ll guard the Golden Toaster until another club dares to come and get it. Valley Town proud!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - 

Thank you to Emily Nichols for the story, to Angela Walker of Brant Toastmasters and to Walter Lehman, President of Valley Town Toastmasters, for the above photos.

- - - - - - - - - - - - 

Historical notes about Golden Toaster "raids"

The first "theft" of a Golden Toaster at Valley Town occurred on May 8, 2008 when Skyway Toastmasters of Burlington "retaliated" a few weeks after being deprived of their prized possession. The photo story can be seen here. This was an "Area 3" episode. At that point, Skyway's version of the Golden Toaster was being "stolen" for many years.

The current version of the Area 51 Golden Toaster, along with its iconic "Toastmaster" brand label, can be seen in the above photo. It was introduced on February 18, 2011 during an Area 51 contest. That photo story - along with the initial rules - can be seen here.


October 24, 2019

"Open House" meetings are an opportunity to showcase the Toastmaster program to our community and to solicit new membership. It is also provides the basis for teamwork and leadership in organizing and executing such an event.

Valley Town Toastmasters conducted a successful Open House this evening. A large audience including guests witnessed and participated in a full agenda that included a panel discussion.

Each member of the panel discussed their personal benefits from the Toastmaster program. The participants are (left to right in above photo): David Tomowich, Joanne Peters, Peter Schwarz, Area 51 Director Ruth Larbie and panel moderator Emily Nichols.

Thank you to everyone for this wonderful meeting!


October 17, 2019

Toastmasters is all about education in an enjoyable environment. 

Vice-President of Education, Darryl Hartwick (kneeling centre of photo) is pleased to announce the club's most recent education award recipients in the Toastmasters Pathways program.

Standing left to right: Walter Lehman (Innovative Planning, Level 3), Emily Nichols (Presentation Mastery, Level 4 and Engaging Humour, Level 2), Peter Schwarz (Strategic Relationships, Level 2) and David Tomowich, Presentation Mastery, Level 1). Not in the photo is award recipient Chunhwa Wu (Leadership Development, Level 1).

Congratulations to everyone for your achievements!

Thank you to Darryl for your guidance and support in the Pathways educational program!



August 15, 2019

It was our 11th parade at the Annual Cactus Festival. Along with members of Ambitious City Toastmasters, we proudly and happily marched through the main streets of Dundas.

There was substantial "family" participation with Emily Nichols and her family. Emily is pictured in these photos along with her husband, Marcel, her sister Rebecca and niece Ivey. Nephew Henry was in the wagon.

Karen Wood also brought three of her grandchildren.

Club president Walter Lehman led the way with the "The Big Gavel" with Theresa Hovak's "float" following the marchers.

Thank you to David Hayes and Karen Wood for helping to organize our parade!

Photos courtesy of Sergio DiGiovanni and Emily Nichols.


August 11, 2019

Valley Town's 5th Annual Golf Tournament was another huge success!

Three teams battled for the "Green Jacket" as proudly worn by Jackson Bisson (centre top row) in this photo.

The champion team consisted of David Tomowich (top left), Jackson Bisson, Walter Lehman and David Hayes (sitting).

David Tomowich and David Hayes are repeating as Champs!

Jackson is Karen and Al's grandson.


Seated from left to right in this group photo are Mark Mullins, Sergio DiGiovanni and Maybelline DiGiovanni, Walter Lehman, David Tomowich, Al Wood, Carrie Mullins, Karen Wood, Jackson Bisson, David Hayes, Roman Horak and Theresa Horak.


Sergio DiGiovanni (left photo) and Al Wood are pictured as they prepare to tee off.


Maybelline is shown lining up her next putt and Roman appears to be enjoying his tasty meal in true golf style!

Thank you to Dale Skvereckas and Sergio DiGiovanni for organizing this wonderful event!

Congratulations to all of the participants!

Photos courtesy of Karen Wood and Sergio DiGiovanni.


May 30, 2019

Last night, in the beautiful Dundas Town Hall auditorium, Karen Wood was honoured for earning her Distinguished Toastmaster award. A large audience of members from Valley Town Toastmasters along with members from other clubs, district officials, guests and family were in attendance. 

Myrna Barthe DTM, District 86 Administration Manager and past Division L Director conducted the ceremonial DTM presentation followed by a wonderful talk by Karen's husband, Al Wood

Also recognized for their recent educational achievements were Darryl Hartwick and Kelly Nash.

The incoming club president for Valley Town Toastmasters, Walter Lehman, knelt in good grace to receive the "Big Gavel of Leadership" from Karen who is the outgoing president. 

Walter's first act as incoming president was to induct the club's new leadership team (holding the Big Gavel, left to right) Darryl Hartwick, Peter Schwarz, David Hayes, Emily Nichols and Tom Shears.

Outgoing club president Karen Wood also thanked the current executive, left to right: Darryl Hartwick, Joanne Peters, David Hayes and Emily Nichols for their valuable contributions to a successful year.

Thank you to Joanne Peters for a very nice job of chairing the event and to Emily Nichols for conducting her interactive "DTM interview" with Karen.

Congratulations to Karen Wood, Darryl Hartwick, Kelly Nash and thank you to the outgoing executive for an excellent year of service and dedication.

Valley Town Proud!


April 30, 2019

Five current and one former member of Valley Town Toastmasters were judges at the 16th Annual Provincial Air Cadet Debate at Mohawk College in Hamilton. 26 teams of young men and women along with their coaches, families and friends came from across Ontario to demonstrate their debating skills.

Valley Town Toastmasters has supported this event for a long time. It is always a heartfelt pleasure to provide service to these cadets. They are not just the youth of our country but the future. And they represent the best in attitude, effort and dedication.

Pictured in the above photo (not in uniform) from left to right: Cettina Cuffaro (former member), club President Karen Wood, Kelly Nash, Walter Lehman, Vice-President Education Darryl Hartwick and Tony Bratschitsch.

Valley Town Proud!


April 26, 2019

Three Valley Town Toastmasters had the pleasure of judging the public speaking finals at Yorkview Elementary School in Dundas. Toastmasters Emily Nichols (left), Kelly Nash (center), and Darryl Hartwick (right) listened to presentations from seven excellent speakers. Their topics included anxiety, internet safety, and pay inequity in sports. The judges were impressed with the contestants’ poise, posture, confidence and courage as they delivered their speeches at a packed assembly in the school’s gymnasium.

[Thanks to Vice-President of Education Darryl Hartwick for submitting the photo story.]


April 14, 2019

Valley Town Toastmaster Tony Bratschitsch, DTM is the proud recipient of the Douglas Barclay Award which was presented during the District 86 Conference on April 14, 2019.

The prestigious award is given to a Past District Officer who exemplifies Toastmasters’ values of integrity, respect, service, and excellence. It also recognizes the recipient’s leadership and service to Toastmasters, and the promotion of the organization to the outside community.

True to the "Valley Town" tradition of participating in local community events and along with other members of our club, Tony has been involved with the Air Cadets, Royal Canadian Legion, The Arthritis Society of Canada, the City of Hamilton Health Unit, the Masonic Lodge, Women's Institute of Canada and many other organizations.

Tony was the District 86 Governor in 2013-2014 when the district achieved Distinguished status. He was the Division L Governor in 2011-2012 in which the division earned President Distinguished status. Tony was recognized as the Division Governor of the Year, that year.

Although he was given the award, Tony considers it to be a club achievement.

[Thanks to Vice-President of Education Darryl Hartwick for submitting the photos and the main part of the article.]


February 5, 2019

After only seven months since joining, Emily Nichols presented another excellent presentation that earned 2nd place out of 8 contestants in the International Speech Contest at the Area 51 Contest in Waterdown. Emily won our club contest on December 6, 2018.

Veteran member Tony Bratschitsch won 1st place in the Evaluation Contest and will represent Area 51 at the Division L Contest in Burlington on March 6.

There were ten members from Valley Town Toastmasters that attended this event.

Congratulations to Emily and Tony!

Valley Town Proud!


December 13, 2018

Valley Town Toastmasters enjoyed their Christmas party at the Winchester Arms Restaurant in Dundas. It was superbly organized by Emily Nichols and well attended by members, family and friends.

Thank you, Emily, for your great effort in arranging a wonderful venue with excellent food. 

Thank you to everyone for a fantastic 2018!


December 13, 2018

Karen Wood, DTM (left in photo) was recognized for achieving her Distinguished Toastmaster ("DTM") award, the highest level in Toastmasters. 

There are many educational and leadership aspects to the DTM journey, such as speeches, work shops, training sessions and club and district leadership roles. To do it right and to share the numerous successes with others can take quite a few years - all enjoyable.

Everything Karen did along the way of earning her DTM was done with excellence and, sometimes, more than once. For example, she has been club president three times and a club coach twice. 

Karen is pictured above receiving congratulatory flowers from VP Membership Joanne Peters.

Karen is the 2nd member of Valley Town Toastmasters to be a "fully grown" DTM recipient within our club's 25 year history. The other is Tony Bratschitsch, pictured alongside Karen in this photo, who received his designation in 2012. Tony was also a Division Governor (2011-2012) and the District 86 Governor (2013-2014).

Congratulations, Karen!


December 13, 2018

During our Christmas party, Valley Town Toastmasters celebrated its 25th anniversary of serving its members and the community. Pictured in the above photo is Emily Nichols presenting a cake to the club.

We had earlier decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary in a relatively low key manner considering that we had a big gala event on our 20th. Click on this link to see the photo story of that remarkable event.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our club's success during its first 25 years.


December 6, 2018

Thanks to everyone's effort - chair, judges, contestants, counters, timers and enthusiastic supporters - Valley Town Toastmasters had a superb International Speech & Evaluation Contest. We are a club that does not glorify "winning" but, instead, we emphasize the joy of participation and the value of learning, no matter what the roles are.

Pictured in the above photo, from left to right, are Area 51 Director Timothy Douglin (who has supported many of our functions), Brent Clark (3rd place, Evaluation Contest), Karen Wood (2nd place, Evaluation Contest), Tony Bratschitsch (2nd place, International Speech Contest and 1st place Evaluation Contest), Emily Nichols (1st place International Speech Contest) and Dale Skvereckas, contest chair.

The top two place finishers from each of the two contests will represent Valley Town Toastmasters at the Area 51 Contest on February 5, 2019.

Thank you to everyone for contributing to a superb contest!

[Read the below story for some more details about the contest.]


December 6, 2018

Valley Town Toastmasters conducted its annual International Speech & Evaluation Contests with its usual mix of excellence and humour. Chaired by Dale Skvereckas and supported by fellow members in the roles of judges, counters and timers, the contestants competed at a high level, spurred by a challenge from Emily Nichols.

A message very similar to that of below was posted on Facebook and received "Likes", "Comments" and "Shares" from all over the world including USAFranceNetherlandsBarbadosGermanySouth Africa and the Philippines. It is great to be able to demonstrate Valley Town Toastmasters' "Laughing & Learning" vision on an international basis.

The following has been slightly modified from the FB posting:

"Tony Bratschitsch got 'butt kicked' twice last night. It's great when a run up to a Toastmasters contest is as much fun as the contest, itself. Emily Nichols had challenged her fellow contestants a week earlier that she would "kick their butts". Then she proceeded to honour her pledge with a winning masterful 7-minute speech. Standing beside her, coming in a distant 2nd, was as close to 1st place as Tony was going to get. To make sure he understood that, Emily 'kicked his butt" again! This time with her foot. We all loved every minute of last night's contest. Congratulations, Emily! And thank you for the laughs and inspiration."

Emily and Tony will represent Valley Town Toastmasters at the Area 51 International Speech Contest at First Waterdown Toastmasters on February 5, 2019. Tony and Karen Wood will represent the club at the Evaluation Contest at the same event.

The superb photo was provided by Darryl Hartwick.


November 15, 2018

Emily Nichols is our first club member to complete Level One of our new Pathways educational program that was recently rolled out by Toastmasters International. She is pictured wearing her Level One pin while being congratulated by meeting chair Glenn Van Renesse. In fact, Emily's presentation this evening completed Level Two.

Well done, Emily!


November 12, 2018

At the invitation of neighbouring Brant Toastmasters in Brantford, Kenrick Chin, Glenn Van Renesse and Tony Bratschitsch attended their Tall Tales Contest. Glen and Tony were two of the eight contestants of which Tony (right in the above photo) finished in 3rd place.


November 11, 2018 

On this cool but clear Sunday, hundreds of people attended the annual Remembrance Ceremony at the Dundas Cenotaph located on Market & King Streets. Many organizations placed commemorative wreaths at the cenotaph including Valley Town Toastmasters.

In this photo, our wreath can be seen at the front row in the centre.

Dale Skvereckas and Glenn Van Rennesse from our club were on hand to lay the wreath at the cenotaph. This was Dale's fourth consecutive year in doing so. Kenrick Chin also attended.

Fellow club member Tony Bratschitsch (centre in above photo), as a member of the Royal Canadian Legion's Colour Party, was coincidentally positioned the closest to the cenotaph and had a great view of all of the ongoings.


November 8, 2018

Organized by our president, Karen Wood, our club conducted a "Remembrance" meeting in the upstairs auditorium of the Dundas Town Hall.

Three guest speakers presented their writings from a book titled "ENGRAVED" and edited by Bernadette Rule of Dundas. Jean Ryan, Lise Levesque and Carol Leigh Wehking gave brief readings of their stories on World War I. 

There were guests from other Toastmaster clubs in attendance, as well.

It was a meeting to Remember!


October 27, 2018

Four of our club members attended the Division L Expo at Niagara College in Niagara Falls. From left to right: Joanne Peters, Karen Wood, Glenn Van Renesse and Emily Nichols.

Our club president, Karen Wood, was a featured speaker whose presentation "The Trouble With Jack" was the subject of an educational evaluation.

The Expo was designed to offer new ideas and skills in the areas of contest planning and participation. As well, it was another great opportunity to meet other Toastmasters from different clubs.


September 29, 2018

Every year, our Toastmaster District 86, consisting of 243 clubs and about 5,400 members, celebrates the successes of its Toastmasters with the "Year Of" awards.

One of the most sought after awards is the "Club of the Year Award" which goes to the club that has the best "score card" for a number of achievements, which include educational awards, membership growth and other contributions. 

When the worthy club receive this prestigious award each year, it also gets the "Big Honking Gavel" which was donated by Valley Town Toastmasters in 2013. This year, the Energetics Toastmasters Club of Waterloo achieved the "Club of the Year Award" with a remarkable performance. As can be seen from the above photo, their club president has already proudly hoisted our Big Honking Gavel.

This is a photo of the initial acceptance of the Big Honking Gavel by the District 86 division governors in 2013.

The "Division Director of the Year" award was given to Division D Director Kyla Werrett, DTM. Pictured below are previous winners including club member Tony Bratschitsch, DTM, PDG (Past District Governor) who earned the recognition as Division L Governor (as it was known then) for the year 2011-2012. 


September 23, 2018

The weather was practically perfect for our well organized 4th Annual Golf Tournament.

Three teams competed for the coveted Green Jacket and all of the team scores totaled within two strokes of each other. Wow!

Participants in the above photo are (left to right): David Tomowich, Lorraine Gavloski, Marcel Verner (guest), Emily Nichols, Dale Skverkeckas (organizer), David Hayes (inside cart), Tony Bratschitsch (inside cart), Sergio Di Giovanni, Karen Wood, Imelda Esporlas-Jewer (former member and long-time friend) and Glenn Van Renesse.

The Green Jacket went to Team One, which can be seen from these photos, were proudly worn by the two Davids, in turn.

Our organizer, Dale (also pictured in the above photo), did another fantastic job in organizing this event which included the usual celebration meal at the Collins Restaurant.

Dale put together "treat bags" for each of us which consisted of apples, energy bars, dried fruits, nuts and candy.

Thank you, Dale, for everything!


September 14, 2018

Our club member Lorraine Gavloski has a well known passion for running long distance (sometimes 80 km) races. She also has had a goal for participating in the Boston Marathon.

On September 9, Lorraine ran a great race at a qualifier at the Presque Isle State Park (Erie, Pennsylvania) and earned an opportunity to apply for the Boston Marathon.

Five days later, Lorraine received the below official invitation!

Congratulations, Lorraine!


August 16, 2018

For the 10th straight year, Valley Town Toastmasters, supported by a large contingent from Ambitious City Toastmasters from Hamilton, participated in the annual Cactus Festival Parade in Dundas.

In total, 29 members, friends and family marched along the 2.2 kilometer trek through the downtown area which was ringed by thousands of spectators.

Our club member Lorraine Gavloski graciously provided her Jeep as part of our float in which she drove with David Hayes in the passenger seat.

Division L Director Nikolina Ivankovic and Area 55 Director Shanta Wehrli drove a long way to march with us.

Thank you to everyone for helping to promote Toastmasters!


July 14, 2018

This photo tells quite a story. Our club member Lorraine Gavloski is an international mega-marathon competitor, running as much as 80 kilometers in the United States.

Recently, Lorraine participated in the Dundas "Beer Mile" race and won the Women's Championship.

The "Beer Mile" has become a world-wide event that, naturally, features "beer" and "mile". It's quite a story that doesn't stop there.

As part of this competition, the participants had to dress up as "senior citizens", as per above photo. Lorraine told us of a story in which she and her friend were trudging through a torrential downpour after the race and a Good Samaritan offered the "old ladies" a ride.

Congratulations, Lorraine, on your success and kudos to your spirit of having a great time! That's living!


July 12, 2018

At our club's annual barbecue (see below story), the above photo was taken of former member and forever friend Artur Filc alongside club president, Karen Wood

They are both holding the "ribbon box" that Artur crafted for Valley Town Toastmaster's 20th Anniversary that was celebrated on January 30, 2014. Click on this link to read the full story of that memorable event.

The "ribbon box" is used to store the many awards that Valley Town has received throughout its storied history. The above photo shows it as the centre piece on the Awards Table display of our 20th Anniversary event.

Unlike most Toastmaster clubs, Valley Town does not display its many ribbons on our club banner. We leave our banner free and clear to proudly display our name because we are "Valley Town Proud".

Thank you, Artur, for your valuable contribution to our legacy.


July 12, 2018

Our club's annual barbecue was hosted by Sergio and Maybelline Di Giovanni for the 2nd year in a row. It was a perfect evening for the attendees which included past and current members, families and friends and District 86 executives.

Live entertainment was provided by "Timeline" who catered to everyone's musical taste. Truly, they were very, very good and they played until late in the evening.

A large number of people contributed to the success of this event. Everyone brought something for the potluck and we had the services of excellent chefs at the barbecue grill, itself.

Those who know David Hayes would agree that he's a resilient fellow, getting to places with the aid of his walking sticks. However, getting David down a small hill on soft grass requires "a system" and team effort. 

Thus, Serg converted a wheel barrow into a padded transporter and he recruited a team to ensure David's safe arrival to the fire pit area where we sat and listened to "Timeline".

During a musical break, we took the opportunity to spring a surprise birthday cake and well wishes to our VP of Education.

Thank you to everyone for making this event a very memorable one!


April 29, 2018

Four members of Valley Town Toastmasters helped judge the 11th Annual Southern Ontario Air Cadet Debate conducted at Mohawk College.

26 teams of air cadets from the province participated in this vigorous completion which was attended by over 150 people including coaches and family.

Our club members, who are not in uniform, are pictured left-to right: Glenn Van Renesse, David Hayes, Dale Skvereckas and Tony Bratschitsch.


April 21, 2018

Karen Wood of our club designed and donated a large number of gifts for a silent auction to be held at the Toastmaster District 86 Conference a week later. In fact, of our local Division L's 24 contributions from 28 clubs, Karen - and Valley Town - provided more than half.

As you can see, the below gift baskets have clearly marked unique descriptions.


These beautiful baskets took time and effort to create. 

As in all things that Karen does, quality and passion has shone through!

Valley Town Proud!


March 8, 2018

Toastmasters throughout the world are always encouraged to visit other clubs. Our club member, David Hayes, went to Zephyrhills Toastmasters in Florida and had a great time! He won Best Table Topics and Best Speaker awards. 

Way to go, David! 

Thank you, Zephyrhills Toastmasters, for your hospitality!


January 5, 2017

It was with pride that Karen Wood announced to our club during its meeting that she had made a contribution to a freshly published book.

The following is Karen's statement copied from her Facebook posting:

"It's official. Our book has been published and is available on Amazon. The Hamilton Writers' Club was started by Professor Barry Gottlieb after returning home to Canada after 18 years in China preparing students for study in Canada. 

We are a fluid group of writers; some published, some working toward that goal, and some wanting to write for family. Our Professor has lured us all into a 2500 word story competition followed by publication. 

We are now on a journey with project #2 - 4500 - 5000 words. The wheels are turning already for ideas to approach more family stories. 

Thank you Professor. I am very pleased to be part of this group and be motivated to document family history for my grandchildren. 

Our first book is available on Amazon in e-book form or soft cover. All royalties go to support Neighbour to Neighbour Food Bank on the Hamilton Mountain.

 I'm enjoying reading the 25 stories from our members. You can too."

Congratulations, Karen, for following your passion!


December 14, 2017

The warm and hospitable IL Fiasco Restaurant in Dundas was the site of Valley Town Toastmasters' annual Christmas party in which 21 members and family attended.

This event was planned and organized by a committee led by Lisa Anderson (left file photo), the club's Sergeant-At-Arms, and included Paul Beck and David Hayes.

Lisa's vision called for as little membership fuss as possible. Therefore, instead of the usual complex potluck dinner, she arranged for a delightful reception and dinner affair at an excellent local restaurant. Not easy for her but simple for the members. 

Paul Beck (right photo) formally welcomed all of us with a gracious toast is which he reminded us about our successes and encouraged us "to enjoy the moment".

As the meal was being finished, David Hayes (not pictured) asked some of us to speak about "our best holiday memories". There were a number of excellent stories including Dana Murray's tale of her recent trip to Portugal.

This photo story would not be complete without an appropriate tribute to our past president, Karen Wood, for always being available to assist everyone. Karen is currently an Area Director for Toastmasters and, as can be seen from the photo on the left, she is the "top hat" of our club.

Thank you to Lisa and her committee for putting the "members first" and for providing us with a wonderful event.


December 6, 2017

This is the third year in which Rose-Anne St. Jean has chaired our club’s annual “Shoe Box For Shelters” drive. Shoe boxes are filled with items that make women feel special and valued. (see above photo). They are given to women who are in local shelters for a variety of reasons including poverty and protection from family violence.

This year the drive was headed by 5 Team Leaders each one a member of our executive committee. Organized this way inspired members to reach beyond club members to family, friends, customers and colleagues for shoe box contributions in their bid to outdo each other. The big winners were the Women’s Shelters with 35 shoe boxes being donated this year vs 12 and 7 the previous two years.

Team Leaders and members met at the Royal Canadian Legion to organize the generous donations into shoe boxes. From left to right in the above photo are Karen Wood (Team Leader), Allison Fleming, David Hayes (Team Leader) and Rose-Anne St. Jean (Chair). Others in attendance but not in the photo include Dana Murray, Nivia Bozyk (Team Leader) and Mark Mullins.

Bravo to all the Teams for their enthusiastic participation in this club activity and to all of the generous donors for their thoughtful contributions to helping women feel valued at a difficult time in their lives.  


November 16, 2017

Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to welcome Queena Zhang into our club as a new member. Queena is a PHD engineering student who joined our club to improve her presentation skills.

Vice-President of Membership, Jacob Lethbridge, is pictured greeting Queena.

Welcome, Queena!


November 11, 2017

Once again, members of Valley Town Toastmasters represented the club at the annual Remembrance Ceremony at the Dundas Memorial Cenotaph.

Dale Skvereckas and Joel Porter placed our wreath at the foot of the cenotaph. 

Kenrick Chin was also in attendance. 

Lisa Anderson placed a wreath on behalf of another organization.

As well, Tony Bratschitsch was front-and-centre as a member of The Royal Canadian Legion's Colour Party.

We remember!


November 2, 2017

Our club was thrilled to welcome Dana Murray as a new member of Valley Town Toastmasters. Dana lives in Dundas and she is a manager in the public services sector. She joined Toastmasters to improve her communication skills when dealing with the public. The Sergeant-At-Arms for the evening, Joel Porter, is shown greeting Dana.

Welcome, Dana!


October 27, 2017

Congratulations to Jacob Lethbridge for a superb presentation at the Division L Table Topics Contest.

Thank you to all of the Valley Town Toastmasters who came out to support Jacob and to help run and officiate the contest.


October 19, 2017

Joel Porter (left in photo) was inducted in our club as a new member. Joel is a Dundas resident and he is a craftsman at a local beverage manufacturer. He joined Toastmasters to improve his confidence level in front of groups of people. Joel is shown being welcomed by VP Membership, Jacob Lethbridge.

Welcome, Joel!


October 2, 2017

Our Jacob Lethbridge won the Area 51 Table Topics Contest in Brantford. This was the second straight year that he did so and Jacob will go on to compete in the Division L Contest in Ancaster on October 27.

Jacob is shown 2nd from the right in the above photo along with our club member, Karen Wood, 2nd from the left, who was the Contest Chair.

Valley Town Proud!


September 21, 2017

Valley Town Toastmasters conducted its annual Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contest with excellent participation from its members as contestants and officials.

Paul Beck, 2nd from right in the above photo, won the Humorous Speech Contest and Jacob Lethbridge, 2nd from left, won the Table Topics Contest. Both winners will represent Valley Town Toastmasters in the Area 51 Contest in Brantford on October 2. Dale Skvereckas, centre, came in 2nd in the Table Topics Contest and she will also represent our club in the area contest as well as Tony Bratschitsch (not pictured) with the Humorous Speech Contest.

Also pictured in the photo on the far left is Lori Lishman, Contest Chair, and on the far right is Myrna Barthe, Division L Governor.


September 7, 2017

Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to welcome Glenn Van Renesse (right in photo) into the club as a new member. Glenn resides in Ancaster and he is business franchise specialist. Glenn is looking forward to improving his "large meeting" presentation skills. Vice-President of Membership, Jacob Lethbridge, is shown greeting Glenn.

Welcome, Glenn!


August 27, 2017

A lot of our members participated in exciting activities during the summer months.

In the above photo, our club member Dale Skvereckas and her group of hikers completed the Iroquoia section of the Bruce Trail. There are nine section to the trail with Iroquoia covering the area between Grimsby and Milton.

The Bruce Trail, Canada's oldest and longest footpath, provides the only continuous public access to the magnificent Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It is more than 890 kilometers long.

Another member, Karen Wood, pitched in with some cooking to support the Stoney Creek Optimists during the Peach Festival in Winona.

Valley Town Toastmasters celebrate the successes of their members in all aspects of life.

Valley Town Proud!


August 12, 2017

Three teams of Valley Town Toastmasters and their families competed for the coveted Green Jacket at the Old Knollwood Golf Course in Ancaster.

This year's champions were (left-to-right) Mark Mullins, Captain Carrie Mullins and Sergio Di Giovanni.

After the competition, we gathered at the Collins Hotel in Dundas to enjoy some food and refreshments.

Seated clockwise from the left are John Veerman (club president), Sergio Di Giovanni, Karen Wood, Dale Skvereckas, James Bratschitsch (Tony's son who came for the meal), Tony Bratschitsch, David Hayes (hidden from view), Jackson Bisson (Karen & Al's grandson), Carrie Mullins, and Mark Mullins. Al Wood took the photo.

This year's event was spearheaded by Serg and organized by Dale Skvereckas. Dale also prepared individually personalized treat bags for each player.

Thank you, Serg and Dale, for organizing such a wonderful event!


June 14, 2017

Sergio and Maybelline Di Giovanni generously hosted our club's summer barbecue at their home. 

There was a band that entertained in the beautiful backyard.

A lot of our members attended with their spouses and we had some guests from the district.


Thank you to those who sent the above photos.


June 14-16, 2017

For the 9th time this year, members of Valley Town Toastmasters had an opportunity to demonstrate their presentation skills - and to practice new ones - to students at Mohawk College in Hamilton.

We presented the three segments of a script developed by club president, Karen Wood, which included:
  • "Feel The Fear"
  • Success Stories
  • Impromptu one-minute Table Topics by the students

This week, there were three classes that we addressed. Our participants were Mark Mullins, Kelly Nash, Jacob Lethbridge, Rose-Anne St.Jean, Cettina Cuffaro and Tony Bratschitsch. Some of us attended more than one class.

Cettina is pictured in the photo during her 20-minute "Feel The Fear" presentation on Friday in which she also drew some of the students into her interactive session.

So far, Valley Town Toastmasters has made nine full presentations at Mohawk College this year alone. We have been doing so since November, 2010. Besides improving our own skills outside of the club, we have provided important tips and advice to hundreds of college students.

Valley Town proud!


March 7, 2017

Valley Town Toastmasters retained the "Golden Toaster" by virtue of Rose-Anne St. Jean's 1st place finish in the Area 51 International Speech Contest (see below story).

Rose-Anne is shown in the above photo with contest chair, David T Shaw.


March 7, 2017

Our club member and Vice-President of Membership, Rose-Anne St. Jean, earned 1st place in the Area 51 International Speech Contest conducted in Hamilton. This was an exceptional achievement considering that there were eight excellent contestants vying for the honour to represent the Area in the upcoming Division Contest.

Jacob Lethbridge of our club earned 2nd place in the Area's Evaluation Contest with another very strong performance.

Left to right in above photo: Area 51 Director Jenn Aucoin, Contest Chair Mark Mullins of our club, Rose-Anne St. Jean, Jacob Lethbridge and Division L Director Veronica Taylor.

Other members of Valley Town Toastmasters that attended the contests were Dale Skverekas who also competed in the Evaluation Contest, Cettina Cuffaro, Nivia Boyzyk, Tony Bratschitsch and club president Karen Wood.

Rose-Anne will now represent our club and Area 51 at the Division L Contest being held at Bishop Tonnos High School in Ancaster on Friday evening, March 24.

Valley Town Proud!


‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’

Submitted by Karen Wood, ACB ALB

February 16-17, 2017

‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ - That was the message that Karen Wood brought to Mohawk College students in Office Administration February 16, 17-2017. 

These presentations were requested after the success of two earlier ones in January (see earlier photo story).

The purpose was to bring awareness to these students of; the power of Speaking with Confidence, constructing a speech, owning your space, overcoming and controlling the butterflies of fear, an opportunity to practice speaking from a lectern and Table Topics in the form of job interview questions. 

Over the two days, members of Valley Town Toastmasters gave presentations to four classes of students.

Joining Karen (far left in upper photo)  were Toastmasters Jacob Lethbridge and Cettina Cuffaro. Kelly Nash of our club also participated (not in photo). They shared their stories of giving their first speeches at Toastmasters. They shared their thoughts and feelings with the students and made stepping out of your comfort zone an acceptable challenge to ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’. 

Further interest has been shown by Mohawk to repeat these presentations next semester. This keeps the opportunity open for others to participate, reach out in the community and build bridges. 


February 1, 2017

Two of our club members helped Steeltown Toastmasters with their annual Evaluation Contest while others attended as a sign of support.

In the above photo, Nivia Bozyk (2nd from right) of our club was the Test Speaker for the evaluation contestants also shown in the photo.

Karen Wood, our club president, is shown in the above photo alongside the contest chair. Karen has been working all year with Steeltown Toastmasters as their Club Coach. In this capacity, Karen is trying to help revitalize their club.

Other Valley Town Toastmasters who attended Steeltown's contest were Marg DeBoer, Jacob Lethbridge and Tony Bratschitsch.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

Submitted Karen Wood ACB ALB 

January 23 & 26, 2017

This is the message that Valley Town Toastmasters of Dundas Ontario brought to Mohawk College students in Office Administration. 

Tony Bratschitsch and Karen Wood teamed up in January 2017, to present the value of Toastmasters skills and how to apply them to personal and business life. 

Karen is shown on the far left in the photo alongside the Mohawk College professor.

The presentation included introduction to the real world of business, the power of public speaking, how to construct a speech, the importance of time management, listening skills, critical thinking and tips on presenting information in a variety of situations, at school, work and in the community. 

The power of public speaking was demonstrated by sharing information concerning the very successful billionaire business man Warren Buffet. He claims that the one skill that will increase your value by 50% and boost your career is public speaking. As a young man he signed up for the Dale Carnegie course, failed, felt the fear and did it again. This time he obtained his certificate and to this day that certificate hangs on his office wall. We explained how Toastmasters is similar to the Dale Carnegie Course. 

An information handout page ‘How to construct a speech’ was given to each professor for sharing with students. 

Time management was demonstrated using ‘show and tell’ with a sample Toastmaster timed meeting agenda. 

Evaluations were explained to demonstrate the importance of listening skills, critical thinking and how giving growth points to speakers can identify unconscious habits, improved ways of making a point or distracting body language. 

Most important were tips to settle the butterflies and squelch the fear of public speaking. Breathing techniques, the simple meditation of ‘centering’ to clear the clutter and allow the speaker to focus on the topic at hand, and assuming the Superman pose in the bathroom (after that nervous pee) were among some of the suggestions to settle nervousness. Of course all the Toastmaster tips were shared as well. 

As part of student participation, they were clapped to the front of the classroom to practise the art of shaking hands. A firm handshake shows confidence and helps you own your space right from the start. They then approached the lectern, introduced themselves and shared something; their favorite hobby, favorite vacation, favorite subject or why they signed up for this particular class. The act of being ‘clapped to the front’, shaking hands with someone and introducing yourself from a lectern is a simple exercise that has huge benefits. Students’ smiles said it all and they returned to their seats with a newly gained confidence. 

Also included were interview questions to help students think on their feet and prepare themselves for that important first job. We treated these questions as Table Topics and timed them. Time allotment was one minute. Our timer would report the length of each student’s answer to give them an idea of how much can be said in a few seconds. This exercise provided much food for thought. 

The professors and students were so impressed that further presentations were arranged for the next month. 

We accepted this invitation as an opportunity to educate more students on the art of communicating and the importance of speaking with confidence. It also presented us with an opportunity to encourage other toastmasters to experience speaking outside the club. 

Note: after Karen's presentation on January 26, another professor, who sat in the class, immediately requested similar presentations for her own students in February.


December 15, 2016

We wound up our calendar year with a beautiful festive celebration. Our party at the Dundas Legion was well attended with members, spouses and friends.

This year's event was chaired by Imelda Esporlas-Jewer who is pictured on the left in the photo singing Christmas Carols with club president Karen Wood.

We had other volunteers involved who helped make this party a very memorable celebration.

We were very fortunate to have "Swedish Santa" stop by with gifts and good cheer including support for the carolers in the below photo.

This was the second 
consecutive year in which Rose-Anne St. Jean spearheaded our charitable drive for "Shoe Boxes For Shelters"

Through Rose-Anne's passionate vision and with her guidance, our club members donated enough new items to fill 12 "shoe boxes", as per below photo.

Thank you to every one who organized and participated in our Christmas Party and the "Shoe Boxes For Shelters" Drive.


November 26, 2016

The Youth Leadership Program, headed by coordinators Imelda Esporlas-Jewer and Jaime Jewer, concluded another successful 8-week session at the Ancaster Library. 

Pictured from left-to-right are: Imelda Esporlas-Jewer, Kyle Bozyk, Amrit Sidhu, Karen Wood (advisor), Carla Antenor, Kavya Mulgund, Rene Riad, and Kenrick Chin (advisor). Absent in the photo were Arjun Sidhu and Jaime Jewer.

Thank you to everyone for their participation and support in this great community event.


November 24, 2016

Club president Karen Wood (right in photo) congratulated the members who achieved Toastmaster International education awards.

The above photo shows the four Toastmasters who earned the Competent Communicator Award during the 2015-2016 year. From left to right: Tony Bratschitsch, Rose-Anne St.Jean, Sergio DiGiovanni and Karen Wood. Karen obtained her Advanced Leadership Bronze Award.

So far, for the current 2016-2017 year, the club members who have achieved Competent Communicator Awards are Dale Skvereckas, Jacob Lethbridge, John Veerman, Marg DeBoer and Tony Bratschitsch.

Congratulations to our members who are growing together!


November 11, 2016

Members of Valley Town Toastmasters represented the club at the annual Remembrance Ceremony at the Dundas Memorial Cenotaph.

Jacob Lethbridge and Dale Skvereckas placed our wreath at the foot of the cenotaph. 

This event has become a time-honoured tradition of our club initially conceived by Kenrick Chin a number of years ago. Kenrick also attended this ceremony equipped with his camera. 

Another member of our club, Tony Bratschitsch, was also at the Remembrance Day Ceremony as a member of the Dundas Legion Colour Party.

Thank you to Kenrick for taking the photos.


October 27, 2016

We had a spooky meeting in which some of our members embraced the spirit of Halloween.

The scariest part of the meeting was that no one found out who "Freddie" was.

From left to right: Kelly Nash, Freddie, Dale Skvereckas, Kenrick Chin, Marie-Louise Kallsen and John Veerman.


October 24, 2016

Members of Valley Town Toastmasters provided important educational sessions in communication skills to a class in the St. Charles Adult Education Centre in Hamilton.

Long time member, Mark Mullins (2nd from right, back row), spear headed the Toastmaster Speechcraft program with the support of John Veerman (far right, back row), our club VP Education, and with advisory help from Karen Wood, club President, and Artur Filc, Treasurer.

Speechcraft is a structured eight-week educational series in which students learn to organize and present their messages in an organized way that suits their own unique styles.

Thank you to our members for providing another valuable contribution to the members of our community!


October 17, 2016

Valley Town Toastmasters won both of the Area 51 contests that were held in Brantford.

Our club member, Mark Mullins (left in photo), won the Humorous Speech Contest and he will represent our club and Area 51 in the Division L Humorous Speech Contest on November 4. Mark is pictured beside Area 51 Director Jennifer Aucoin and contest runner-up Cody Novak from Brant Toastmasters.

Jacob Lethbridge won the Table Topics Contest and he will also compete in the Division L Contest on November 4. Jacob is pictured with Jennifer and with runner-up Diana Parker (former Area 51 Governor) of McMaster Toastmasters.

Congratulations to Mark and Jacob! Thank you to all of our members who attended the contest.

Valley Town Proud!


October 8, 2016

Valley Town Toastmasters were invited into the home of fellow member Jinani Herath and her husband, Eranda (centre and left, respectively, in above photo), for enjoyment of Sri Lankan food. Also pictured is Marg DeBoer.

This event was another example of the warm generosity that our members show each other.

It was another opportunity for us to mingle and to connect outside the club. 

It was also a delight to gobble up another one of Dale Skvereckas' legendary Lithuanian cakes that simply defies imagination!

Thank you, Jinani & Eranda, for your kindness and friendship!

Thank you to Karen Wood for the photos.

Valley Town Proud!


October 8, 2016

Hosted by the Ancaster Public Library, Valley Town Toastmasters started another Youth Leadership Program (YLP) for youths in our community.

Imelda Esporlas-Jewer, centre in above photo, once again has organized this important educational session. Imelda has done so, many times, and she continues to donate her time and effort selflessly for the benefit of young students and their families.

Jaime Jewer, Imelda's daughter and also an experienced YLP coordinator, is shown in this photo conducting a part of the opening meeting.

Jaime is a graduate of Valley Town's original Youth Leadership Program in 2009.

Tony Bratschitsch was a guest speaker and a contributor of ideas.

Thank you, Imelda & Jaime!


October 6, 2016

In what's been declared as our best contest in many years, Valley Town Toastmasters conducted its annual Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests.

Organized by Chair Marg DeBoer and supported by Chief Judge Dale Skvereckas, the event gave our members opportunities to laugh and learn in a competitive environment.

Top place finishers in the Humorous Speech Contest were, from left-to-right, Artur Filc, Mark Mullins and John Veerman with Chair Marg DeBoer. Mark will be representing Valley Town Toastmasters in the Area 51 Contest.

Top place finishers in the Table Topics Contest were, from left-to-right, David Hayes, Jacob Lethbridge and Sergio DiGiovanni with Chair Marg DeBoer. Jacob will be our Table Topics representative at the Area 51 Contest.

Thank you to everyone who participated!


October 5, 2016

Club President, Karen Wood, took the opportunity to attend a distant area contest in our eastern neighbouring District 60.

Karen (far right in photo) enjoys traveling and, whenever possible, calling upon other Toastmaster clubs. In this instance, she was visiting her sister in Belleville.

All Toastmasters should heed and follow Karen's example and take the opportunity to drop into other Toastmaster clubs, anywhere throughout the +120 countries that have them.

Way to go, Karen!


August 22, 2016

Members of Valley Town Toastmasters pulled off a successful raid at Brant Toastmasters in Brantford. David Hayes, John Veerman and Kenrick Chin (right to left in above photo along with Area 54 Director Jennifer Aucoin) "stole" the prized Golden Toaster when they presented a speech and an evaluation at Brant's meeting.

Our members did quite well with David winning the Table Topics, John earning Best Evaluator and Kenrick winning the Best Speaker awards.

As usual, Brant Toastmasters were great hosts but there was a little incident - as pictured above - when Kenrick had to wrestle the Golden Toaster away!

Well done, David, John and Kenrick!


August 18, 2016

On this beautiful evening, 26 Toastmasters, friends, family (including grand kids) from four local clubs took part in the annual Cactus Festival Parade.

Every year, we participate in this event to raise awareness of the Toastmaster program and to mingle with members from other clubs. This year, members from Brant Toastmasters, First Waterdown, Ambitious City and Access Toastmasters joined us in the parade.

Leading our group in the above photo, from left to right, are David Hayes, Artur Filc and Kelly Nash from Valley Town Toastmasters along along with Division L Governor Veronica Taylor, who has been personally supporting this event since 2008. Also within the group is our Area 53 Director Jennifer Aucoin.

We wish to acknowledge the kindness of our local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion for lending the wheel chair for David's use.

All around, a lot of people from different clubs got together in the true Toastmaster spirit of cooperation and fun.

Thank you to everyone!


July 21, 2016

Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to induct Rafa Rettore as a new member. Rafa is from Brazil and is a communications specialist with a MBA in Marketing. She joined Toastmasters to improve her presentation skills. 

Rafa enjoys outdoor summer activities, such as hiking and skying. She is pictured in the centre of the photo with Area 51 Director Jenn Aucoin on the left and VP Membership Rose-Anne St. Jean on the right.

Welcome, Rafa!


July 7, 2016

We were happy to welcome Lucas Rettore, as a new member. Lucas is an electrical engineer and he lives in Hamilton. He works in the industrial automation field and he joined Toastmasters to develop his presentation skills to help him advance in his career.

Like many of our members, Lucas enjoys traveling to new places and outdoor activities. He is pictured alongside VP Membership Rose-Anne St. Jean.

Welcome, Lucas!


June 25, 2016

(At the New Knollwood Golf Course in Ancaster)

Valley Town Toastmasters, family and friends participated in our 2nd Annual "Best Ball" Golf Tournament under ideal conditions.

Three teams of four players competed for the "Green Jacket" and was won by (left to right in photo) Al Wood, friend Dave (wearing the Green Jacket) and incoming club president, Karen Wood. The fourth winner, another friend named Dave, is not in the photo.

Afterward, most of us were able to go to the Collins Hotel in Dundas for meals and refreshments. 

Generous donors had provided enough gifts for everyone to enjoy.

This fantastic tournament and dinner was organized by Sergio DiGiovanni (pictured 2nd from left in upper photo) for the 2nd year in a row.

Thank you, Sergio! It could not have been any better!


June 23, 2016

We were thrilled to welcome Mbula Enobong as a new member!

Mbula (pictured left in photo) is a Hamilton resident and works as an Early Childhood Educator at a local elementary school. She joined Toastmasters to improve her communication skills and to build her confidence and self esteem.

Mbula is shown being greeted by incoming Vice-President of Membership, Rose-Anne St. Jean.


June 16, 2016

Valley Town Toastmasters had our annual barbecue which was graciously hosted by Carrie and Mark Mullins.

We had live entertainment provided by members of our club: Kenrick Chin, Kerry Dolan, Mark Mullins and Kenrick's future son-in-law, Dan, and Kenrick's son, Patrick. Thank you for a wonderful performance!

There was a lot of fantastic food contributed by everyone. 

Thank you to Al Wood (Karen's husband) for being the barbecue chef. 

Everything you grilled was perfect, Al!

Outside the Club...

June 4, 2016 (Submitted by Kelly Nash)

I have been with Valley Town Toastmasters since January 2016 and I have done one speech. One. Despite actually enjoying sharing my ‘Icebreaker’ speech, I cancelled my scheduled second speech three times due to significant anxiety. Each time I decided I was not ready to take that leap. I solved this problem by doing a crazy thing – I signed up for a local speaking engagement where my name was put on a poster, my bio on a website and there was no turning back!

On Saturday, June 4th, 2016, I had the privilege of telling a personal story at Steel City Stories in front of fifty people. This organization presents 4 or 5 storytelling events a year where real people from the Hamilton area share a ten-minute (!) story according to the theme of the night. On Saturday, the theme was "Plan B".

Was I anxious, maybe even terrified? You bet!

Did I faint on stage? No!

Did I make some mistakes? Yes!

Did I enjoy myself? Well…..YES!

Will I do it again? Yes, I am already researching storytelling opportunities across Canada!

What is most important is that I was able to break through my anxiety barrier using the techniques and skills I have acquired performing TM meeting roles and through attentive observation of and listening to my fellow VTTMs as they shared their speeches and stories. You were all a big part of my success! 

A special thank you to my mentor, Tony Bratschitsch, for giving valuable advice, feedback and being there to support me that evening!


May 26, 2014

Twelve members of Valley Town Toastmasters, thirsty for knowledge, met at the newly established Shawn & Ed Craft Brewery in Dundas an hour before our regular club meeting. After paddling our way through the various craft flavours, we listened to Brewmaster Rob Creighton's lore of the art and craft of microbrewing.

At the right time, we wobbled down Hatt Street to the Town Hall whereupon we conducted our usual weekly meeting properly motivated by the "tastes of toasts".

After our meeting, we then reconvened at the Legion to enjoy another round of "barley discussions".

"Laughing & Learning" (our club vision) done right, safely and with good taste!


May 25, 2016

Again, another club member, Tony Bratschitsch, stepped outside the club to provide a "Careers in Manufacturing" presentation on behalf of the Halton Industry Education Council to 30 Grade 10 students at MM Robinson High School in Burlington.

Fellow club member Jacob Lethbridge is the HIEC education coordinator.


May 15, 2016

Our incoming President, Karen Wood, was the Chief Judge for the Brampton-Mississauga Gavel Clubs Evaluation Contest. Gavel Clubs are a "youth version" of Toastmasters and operate year-round.

This was another instance of one of our members stepping outside the club to expand her comfort zone.

Well done, Karen!


May 6, 2016

Surrounded by friends and family, Kenrick Chin celebrated his 65th birthday in style and good taste. His wife, Julie Byrne (left of Kenrick in photo), welcomed all of us in their home to honour our VP Education and long-time club stalwart.

centerpiece of the birthday cuisine was the superb cake made by fellow member, Dale Skvereckas, which consisted of "lots of butter and other ingredients" and baked "with great appreciation and gratitude".

For all of the great leftovers that he would have to eat later, Kenrick was gifted with a 1/2 gallon "growler" of beer.

There was great entertainment provided by Kenrick's friends from the choir.

Of course, to top it off, what's a Toastmaster party without a great toast - as provided by the lovely ladies in the below photo?

(BTW, the person on the left is not drinking from the bottle but was filling the others' wine glasses!)

Happy Birthday, Kenrick!


May 1, 2016

Five members of Valley Town Toastmasters were judges at the 13th Annual Ontario Air Cadet Competition which featured 26 squadrons from Central and Western Ontario. The competition took place at Mohawk College in Hamilton.

We were very impressed with the skills, intelligence and determination of all of the young men and women who debated in this event. It was an honour to serve!

Valley Town's members, pictured from left to right in the above photo, dressed in civilian clothing, are Karen Wood, Dale Skvereckas, Kelly Nash, David Hayes and Tony Bratschitsch.

Valley Town Proud!

(Every once in while, our members make the news such as the local newspapers, professional journals or association newsletters. Valley Towns Toastmasters strive to recognize those accomplishments in this Activity Centre page. Previous articles can be found in this site's "Toastmasters in the News" page.)


Published: April 7, 2016 in the Dundas Star-News

A cheerful welcome awaited our club member Tony Bratschitsch, the Dundas Legion's Youth Education Chair, when he visited home-schooled 6 year-old Anne Roth to present her awards from the Poster & Literary Contest. Anne gave her own presentation to Tony in the form of a pictorial "Thank You" note. 


March 27, 2016

Valley Town Toastmasters were thrilled to give a green St. Patrick's Day welcome to new member Nivia Bozyk, right in photo.

Nivia is a Dundas resident and she owns and operates a hair styling business. She joined Toastmasters to improve on her presentation skills.

Nivia is pictured being greeted by Toastmaster Marg DeBoer.

Welcome, Nivia!


March 17, 2016

On St. Patrick's Day, when green is the preferred colour, Valley Town Toastmasters were very pleased to welcome Lisa Anderson (right in photo) as a new member.

Lisa is a Dundas resident with a strong professional networking background. She joined our club to improve her public speaking.

Lisa is shown in the photo being greeted by Toastmaster Marg DeBoer.

Welcome, Lisa!


February 25, 2016

Mohamed Abouzahra, right in photo, was inducted in Valley Town Toastmasters as a new member. Mohamad is a PhD student specializing in health medicines. He is interested in improving his presentation skills. Mohamed is seen being welcomed by VP Education, Kenrick Chin.

Welcome, Mohamed! We look forward to growing together!


February 25, 2016

Valley Town Toastmasters welcomed Christine Mercer as a new member. Christine is a former project manager who decided to change career paths. She has new ideas in mind and she enrolled in Toastmasters to improve her speaking skills. Christine is pictured being greeted by VP Education, Kenrick Chin.

Congratulations, Christine, on your new plans!

"Feel the fear and do it anyway!"

Toastmaster Presentation at Mohawk College – February 18, 2016 – Karen Wood ACB, CL

(Before I begin my report, I wish to thank my mentor Tony Bratschitsch DTM, who has his finger on the pulse of our community, receives requests from a variety of groups for speakers and provides learning experiences and opportunities for members of Valley Town Toastmasters. So it was with my speaking engagement at Mohawk College.)

[Valley Town Toastmaster Karen Wood (ACB, CL) is shown on the left in the photo alongside the Mohawk College professor.]

A professor at Mohawk College requested a speaker to present the benefits of Toastmasters to her Executive Office Administrative students.

In the age of technology, students tend to have excellent computer skills but lack the softer skills of one-on-one conversation. 

In 1924, Dr. Ralph Smedley recognized the need for good speaking and presentation skills and he designed Toastmasters to improve these skills.

Ninety years later these skills are still important and necessary in our lives.

After accepting this challenge, my presentation was arranged for February 18, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. I arrived early in order to park and familiarize myself with the school and find the classroom.

Past exposure to speaking engagements had me stepping out of my comfort zone from our club environment to that of the IODE, Masonic Lodge and Community Food Advisors. This time I managed to ‘turn a corner’ as my comfort zone expanded. One reason for this was the previous experiences and the fact that I was very familiar with my topic; learning to speak with confidence.

I was given a time element for presentation including Q&A. It is imperative that speakers respect time allotments, so I practiced at home with a timer. Since today’s presentations often include Power Point (PP), I decided to use this to demonstrate rules of PP; 4x4 (maximum four words, maximum four lines), use PP as prompt for points to be covered, not read. I took our portable lectern to demonstrate glancing at notes without actually reading them in order to connect to the audience via eye contact, facial expressions and gestures with purpose.

There were approximately 50 students from two classes who sauntered in and took their seats. Their level of focus and interest, both mental and physical, reminded me of times past when dealing with my own children as teenagers.

It was encouraging finding the students still awake and showing interest by the end of the presentation. One thing that helped accomplish this was sharing ways to overcome fear of speaking in public and introducing them to the Superman pose of power. I had them all stand and assume the position. It’s amazing just how invigorating this simple act can be. 

After explaining the various components of a Toastmasters meeting, their professor will be introducing them to Table Topics. This will initiate verbal communication combined with the ability to think on their feet. 
One student has been asked to be MC at a wedding in August. He was genuinely interested in preparing for the event in August. I gave him my e-mail address so he could contact me and join us when he's ready to attend a meeting as our guest.

I found this opportunity not only very rewarding but the success made me feel good about myself and confident in my abilities to contribute to our community. The learning curve continues. The comfort zone expands.

‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ definitely provides rewards and personal growth.


February 4, 2016

Our club was thrilled to induct William Peltier (right in photo) as a new member.

William is a computer programmer who enjoys composing music and playing the guitar He is interested in improving his confidence when engaging large audiences.

William is pictured being greeted by Kenrick Chin, our VP Education.


January 28, 2016

Valley Town Toastmasters were delighted to welcome Kerry Dolan (right in photo) as a new member!

Kerry is involved in environmental sciences. She joined Toastmasters to enhance her presentation skills.

Kerry is pictured being greeted by Dale Skvereckas, Meeting Chair.

Welcome, Kerry!


January 21, 2016

Welcome to new member Kelly Nash, pictured left in the photo, being greeted by Chair Marg DeBoer.

Kelly is a Dundas resident who joined to improve her presentation skills. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast with a passion for sharing adventure.

We look forward to growing together!


January 21, 2016

Chuck was welcomed as a new member of our club by Chair Marg DeBoer. Chuck is a resident of Ancaster and he is an online publisher of fictional short stories. He joined Toastmasters to improve his public speaking in order to address large audiences as he promotes his publication, locally and internationally.

Thank you, Chuck, for sharing the excitement with us!

(This is a photo story written by a Valley Town Toastmaster)

Outside the Club by Karen Wood ACB, CL - January 8, 2016

Prior to leaving for our Florida vacation this year, I perused TMI’s website for clubs within a five mile radius of the addresses where we’d be staying.

In Fort Lauderdale I decided on Point Advanced Club # 808677. A phone call to the listed contact confirmed meeting time and place. Upon arrival, I checked in and was told that the person I’d spoken with was sick.

This night was their International Speech Contest and it was obvious that they were short staffed. I let them know that I was qualified for any duty and was immediately appointed a judge. This club although called Advanced had recently regrouped after years in retirement so they were small and inexperienced. Although their members lacked experience and knowledge for the major roles they held that night, they were enthusiastic and supported by experienced members from neighbouring clubs.

In Orlando I found that daytime clubs meet at odd times and some are closed. So I decided to stick with the weekly meeting of Orlando International Toastmasters Club # 8503. Again I was greeted and made welcome. This was a regular meeting for them with numerous new members filling Executive roles and Meeting Chair. It was obvious that these people were honing skills already present. On this particular evening they had more guests than members due to a field trip by a local ESL (English as a Second Language) group. Members of this group participated even though their English was limited. There were a couple former members in town on business and visited to renew friendships. This club had Jack, a very experienced member, who obviously encouraged new members to get involved and ‘run with it’.

What did I learn from these visits?

I learned that:

-- Toastmaster clubs everywhere struggle with membership

-- Clubs are renowned for filling positions at last minute for a variety of reasons; work, illness

-- The program may vary but the purpose is the same; learning to speak with confidence

-- Valley Town Toastmasters is ‘laughing and learning’ along with the rest and the best of them

-- Members everywhere are stepping out of their comfort zone in order to learn and grow


January 7, 2016

Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to welcome Mona Leedale (pictured in the right) into our club as a new member.

Mona is a business owner specializing in customized travel programs. She joined Toastmasters to improve her public speaking skills.

Mona is seen being greeted by Chair Dale Skvereckas.

Welcome, Mona!


January 6, 2016

Members of Valley Town Toastmasters conducted another Youth Leadership Program graduation ceremony involving the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

Cadets from the 735 Firebirds Squadron in Dundas successfully completed their eight week program under the guidance of club members Marie-Louise Kallsen, Jacob Lethbridge and Jenani Herath with support from Karen Wood.

The graduation cake pictured above may not have been the most artistic but it was certainly delicious.

Congratulations to everyone!

Christmas Party Makeover

Submitted by Rose-Anne St. Jean

December 10, 2015

This year Valley Town Toastmasters decided to give their annual Christmas party a makeover.

With a theme of ‘Holidays Around the World’ at Christmas time, the first thing party guests were faced with was the noticeable absence of the jolly old man, Santa Claus. 

In his place were Margaret DeBoer (left in photo) as Black Peter and Karen Wood (right in photo) as Father/Mother Christmas who distributed pieces of coal or Papernoten (Holland style) to club members. 

Coal of course, if a member had been naughty and Papernoten (a sweet) if they had been nice. All secrets were revealed as deeds were reported in rhyme!

The traditional 'Secret Santa' gift exchange became a different type of secret gift giving. Members and their guests contributed small, thoughtful items to fill ‘Shoeboxes for Shelters’ (see photo on right) for women finding refuge from domestic abuse. The gift giving experience was organized by Rose-Anne St. Jean and enthusiastically embraced by all.

Keeping with the international holiday theme, multiple members told us about their holiday traditions, demonstrated games they would play as well as sharing with us some traditional holiday treats from their culture.

The habitual hodge-podge pot luck was replaced by a beautiful and delicious traditional turkey dinner complete with dressing, gravy (buffet table in left photo) and homemade pies (below photo) for dessert. By the looks of plates overflowing with food, calorie counting was definitely not a concern.

This was no passive party. Members and willing guests actively participated in Sergio Di Giovanni’s Table Topics featuring Christmas style, ‘Naughty and Nice’. Bryan Hustler’s Holiday themed charades kept everyone guessing and tested skills of communication not normally practiced at a Toastmaster gathering.

Our club president, Tony Bratschitsch had the very unfortunate luck of having his birthday fall on the day of the Christmas party. “Poor Tony” was the subject of some pretty intense roasting….in more ways than one… to the delight of all attendees! (Check out the blazing candles on that cake!!!)

All in all a great fun-filled evening for all!

Hats off to Project Chair Samantha Kilbourn (2nd from right), a VTTM of three months who accepted the challenge and ran with it. A big thank you also to her committee; Rose-Anne St. Jean (3rd from left), Marie-Louise Kallsen (not in photo), David Hayes (not in photo), Bryan Hustler (far left), Sergio Di Giovanni (far right), Margaret De Boer (3rd from right), Karen Wood (2nd from left), Kenrick Chin (not in photo) and John Veerman (not in photo).  
Merry Christmas, everyone!



December 8, 2015

Nine young Toastmasters graduated to the delight of their families and friends at the Dundas Public Library. The students enjoyed remarkable success in improving their speaking skills and organization leadership.

Coordinators Jaime Jewer and Imelda Esporlas-Jewer are seen in the photo being thanked by Sophie from the Library.

Karen Wood, VP Membership, has helped with the program. Karen is pictured on the far left of the upper photo.

Congratulations to everyone!


November 26, 2015

Welcome to Stephanie Kelcey

Stephanie (right in photo) joined Valley Town Toastmasters to improve her speaking skills.

Stephanie is a business professional and a Dundas resident. She is seen in the photo being greeted by Karen Wood, VP Membership.


November 11, 2015

In front of hundreds of onlookers,
Kenrick Chin and Dale Skvereckas of Valley Town Toastmasters placed a beautiful Remembrance Wreath by the Cenotaph at Memorial Square.


Fellow member Tony Bratschitsch
was present in the second row of the Legion's colour party.

It was a day to Remember.

Valley Town Proud!


November 5, 2015

Lori Lishman (right) was welcomed into Valley Town Toastmasters by VP Membership Karen Wood in front of a crowded room at the Royal Canadian Legion.

Lori is an environmental scientist and is a Hamilton resident. She is interested in improving her presentation skills.

Welcome, Lori!


October 15, 2015

Valley Town Toastmasters were thrilled to induct Samantha Kilburn into our club. She is shown in the centre of the photo being welcomed by Marg DeBoer, Chair, and Kenrick Chin, VP Education.

Samantha is a Hamilton resident and is a marketing and advertising professional. She joined Toastmasters to improve her presentation skills and comfort level in front of large audiences.

Welcome, Samantha!


October 8, 2015

Dale Skvereckas really promoted Thanksgiving as Chair of the meeting! Besides the beautiful cornucopia laden with chocolate treats at the lectern, Dale set up a table with pumpkin pie, cake and cookies.

Thank you, Dale, for your thoughtfulness and generosity in a very appropriate gesture!


October 8, 2015

Fellow member Bryan Hustler donated a "Green Jacket" to Valley Town Toastmasters for the winning foursome of its Annual Golf Tournament (see report below).

Bryan is pictured above with winning foursome participant Tony "Divot" Bratschitsch. The Green Jacket has an unique Toastmaster badge on it.

Thank you, Bryan!

The Golden Toaster Returns!

October 8, 2015

At last! After a long absence, our precious Golden Toaster has returned home.

Thanks to Sergio DiGiovanni's 1st place finish at the recent Area 51 Humorous Speech Contest, this symbol of Toastmaster enthusiasm is now in the possession of our club.

It was formally presented to Kenrick Chin, who created the award, by evening Chair Dale Skvereckas.

Thanks, Serg!


October 5, 2015

Sergio DiGiovanni (4th from the right) won the Area 51 Humorous Speech Contest and Jacob Lethbridge (3rd from the left) placed 2nd in the Table Topics in Brantford.

There was a large contingent of Valley Town Toastmasters at the area contest which helped out with the officiating.

Serg will represent Area 51 and Valley Town Toastmasters at the Division L Contest at Niagara College near St. Catharines on Friday, October 23.

Valley Town Proud!


September 29, 2015

On a super day at Ancaster's Oak Gables Golf Centre, three foursomes of Valley Town Toastmasters and guests took to the links.

Sergio "Best Ball" DiGiovanni (above photo) led his team to victory with his continuous blasts onto the green. 

Other Toastmasters participating in this fun event were Marie-Louise Kallsen, Bryan Hustler, Karen Wood, Dale Skvereckas,Tony Bratschitsch and David Hayes, pictured in the golf cart. Many of us had spouses and friends playing, as well.

Valley Town fun!


September 24, 2015

We had one of our best contests in memory with a total of ten presentations during our annual Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests.

There were some remarkable and memorable performances that introduced "spoonerisms" and adventures with two-year olds. We also discovered that "64" is not a bad number and, at times, you could even hear bells ringing.

A couple of our guests, Mbula and Samantha, stepped up to the plate with substantial contributions to our officiating.

Both contests' participants are shown in the above photo. From left-to-right: Karen Wood, Bryan Hustler, Marie-Louise Kallsen, Marg DeBoer, David Hayes, Tony Bratschitsch, Sergio DiGiovanni and Jacob Lethbridge.

Sergio and Jacob will represent our club in the Area 51 Contests on October 5, 2015 in Brantford for the Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests, respectively.

Well done, everyone!


August 13, 2015

For the 8th consecutive year, local members of nearby Toastmaster clubs participated in the Dundas Cactus Festival Parade. On Thursday evening, we had 26 members, friends and family in the 2.2 kilometer parade led by our "Travelling Toaster".

For the 7th year in a row, we had a "Toastmaster Information Pavilion" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Despite the sweltering heat, we had close to 30 "specific interest" inquiries from individuals visiting from Richmond Hill through Cambridge.

Pictured in the above photo in the pavilion are, left-to-right, Jonathan Spiegel, John Carroll (Steeltown Toastmasters) and Kenrick Chin. Also working the pavilion during the weekend were Rose-Anne St.Jean, Mary Helwig-Hall (Access Toastmasters) and Tony Bratschitsch.

It was another great effort to promote Toastmasters to the communities in Southern Ontario.


June 25, 2015

Valley Town Toastmasters had our summer barbecue along with friends and members from other nearby Toastmaster clubs.

Besides great food, we had great entertainment with Kenrick & Mark's guitar and drum band.

Thank you to Jonathan Spiegel for, once again, hosting this year's event.


April 26, 2015

Club member Karen Wood served as a judge for the Southern Ontario Air Cadets debate at Mohawk College on Sunday.

There were 26 squadrons of young men and women who were anxious to fulfill "their duty to clash" at this highly educational event.

Karen is one of a number of Valley Town members who have donated their time to this worthwhile activity over the past years.

Thank you, Karen, for your continuing selfless work to the community!


March 19, 2015

On Saturday evening, Valley Town Toastmasters and guests were treated to a special evening of wine and food pairing. 

Conducted by club member and sommelier Rose-Anne St.Jean (in photo), we were treated to the stories and samples of some wonderful wine as they were paired with appropriate food.

Through a lot of effort and planning, Rose-Anne presented a wonderful insight into the world of enjoyable dining.

Thank you, Rose-Anne, for your thoughtful and skillful presentation. Thanks to Kenrick and Julie for sharing their home with us, once again.


February 27, 2015

At this time of year, about 14,000 Toastmaster clubs in over 120 countries stage their Annual International Speech & Evaluation Contests.
It was Valley Town Toastmasters delight to conduct their own with the newer members giving the veterans an enthusiastic challenge.

The Evaluation Contest was the first of the evening giving the contestants the opportunity to provide 2-3 minute insightful critiques of a "target" speaker's presentation.
The International Speech Contest provided our contestants with a chance to present entertaining or inspirational 5-7 minute speeches of their own origin.

Top place finishers (of both contests) Dale Skvereckas and Rose-Anne St. Jean (both centre of photo) are pictured with Chairs Nancy McKenzie (far left) of Brant Toastmasters and Karen Wood (far right).


February 3, 2015

On a cold Tuesday evening, a group of Valley Town Toastmasters, along with friends and family, enjoyed a warm evening at the McCallion Planetarium at McMaster University.

VP Education Kenrick Chin (far left) is pictured showing his university lab to members of our club and their guests.

Afterward, the group wrapped up the evening with supper at the university's Phoenix Pub.

It was a heavenly evening for all!

(Above image created by Viola Mueller)

A Toastmaster's Remembrance Day Message

(This submission was originally written for the District 86 Blog)

November 11, 2014

I wish to share a message with my fellow Toastmasters about an everlasting experience I had on Remembrance Day. I believe that this is important to share with others in District 86 that serves its members so well. 

I am a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 36 in Dundas. On Remembrance Day, this past Tuesday, I dressed in my uniform and walked almost 2 kilometers to the branch where I was to fall in with the Colour Party (flag bearers). Along the way, through a neighbourhood park, an elderly man stopped me to express his thanks for my service. I asked him for his first name and I said, "Thank you, Ozzie, for your kindness". I felt my spine straighten even more so. Further on, I came upon three municipal workers who paused to praise me. My chin went up higher. I thanked them for their service, as well. As such, this experience already had a remarkable effect upon me.

When the Remembrance Parade started at the fire hall, the Colour Party was the second unit behind the Dundas Pipe and Drum Band which lead a long column of military and service units. When we wheeled onto King Street, we all marched to a pace that was measured by the drum roll. Step by step, we approached the cenotaph with the streets tightly packed with thousands of people. At that point, a tremendous crescendo of cheers arose from the onlookers - something I never heard before. Then the Scottish pipers played their marching tune and the cheers escalated to an even higher volume. During those moments, I did not feel any burden, whatsoever, carrying the Ontario provincial flag.

The Colour Party took its place front and centre at the cenotaph with the names of the young men and women inscribed who sacrificed all during their service to Canada. After the venerable Remembrance ceremony was conducted, local community organizations were called upon to lay their wreaths. For the second consecutive year, Valley Town Toastmasters was announced. As fellow Toastmaster Kenrick Chin stepped up to the cenotaph, a large applause from the packed audience was heard. I do not think that I ever stood taller in my life.

I am very proud to be a Toastmaster as well as a member of the Legion. It is such a great honour to serve others.

Tony Bratschitsch, DTM, Immediate Past District 86 Governor, President Valley Town Toastmasters


October 29, 2014

Our club, Valley Town Toastmasters, considers itself to be a true "community" club in the sense that we will reach out to other organizations if we can be of assistance.

We have done this many times in the past to such organizations as the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, the Community Food Advisors of Hamilton, The Arthritis Society of Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion, the Industry Education Council of Hamilton, the Dundas Valley High School Co-Op, the Hamilton Public Library, the Women's Institute, the Young Taiwanese Merchants Association of Toronto and Mohawk College.

Besides helping other community organizations, we are able to provide an opportunity for our members to practice their presentation skills outside of the club. Quite often, these events are like "litmus tests" when it comes to evaluating our communication skills in a different environment.

On Wednesday, October 29, 2014, three members of our club gave an one-hour presentation to a combined meeting of Brothers of The Masonic Lodge in their Stoney Creek location.

The purpose of this event was to demonstrate some techniques in public speaking - and audience interaction - that would help the Brethren to improve their speaking skills.

It was a great opportunity - and honour - to be of service to such an outstanding organization that has been contributing to the values of our society for hundreds of years.

The three members of our club are pictured in the above photo. They are Derek Livingstone (2nd from left), Karen Wood and Tony Bratschitsch (2nd from right).

Valley Town proud!


October 9, 2014

Area 51 conducted its annual Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contests at the Dundas Town Hall.

There are four clubs in Area 51: Ambitious City Toastmasters, Brant, McMaster and Valley Town.

Pictured in the above photo (left to right) from the Humorous Speech Contest are Nina Goncharenko (3rd place, Valley Town), Derek McGrattan (2nd place, Brant), David T Shaw (1st place, Ambitious City), Dawn Claus (Chief Judge), Cody Novak (Area 51 Governor) and Tony Bratschitsch (Chair).

Congratulations to David T Shaw who will represent Area 51 in the Division L Contest on October 24 at Niagara College near St. Catharines.

From the Table Topics Contest, left to right in the above photo, are Sujane Kandasamy (3rd place, McMaster), Marie-Louise Kallsen (2nd place, Valley Town), David Ojeyinka (1st place, McMaster), Cody Novak (Area 51 Governor), Lindsay Kueh (Chair) and Ken Klunder (Chief Judge).

Congratulations to David Ojeyinka who will represent our area in the Division L Table Topics Contest.

Area 51 Proud!


October 2, 2014

Our Vice-President of Membership, Artur Filc, had a busy and enjoyable evening welcoming three new members into Valley Town Toastmasters.

Marisha Heinen joined our club to improve her presentation skills.

Marisha is a manager with a large retailer that is dedicated to customer service.

She wishes to improve her "message sending" to employees and co-workers to help her employer's continuing success.

Marisha presented a humorous speech in our recent contest even before she have her Ice Breaker!

Dale Skvereckas
is a legal professional who wants to maintain and improve her people skills.

She is an experienced Toastmaster who has held many leadership roles in another club.

Dale has attended some of our club functions in the past and she recently walked with us in the Cactus Festival parade.

Welcome, Dale!

Derek Livingstone
is a teacher who wishes to improve his comfort level in front of large groups of people.

Derek enjoys humour and challenges. He bravely entered our club contest recently and qualified to ne one of our two representatives at the Area 51 Contest on October 9.

Well done, Derek!

Welcome to our new members! We look forward to growing with you!

Us, nervous? No way!!!

September 25, 2014

It was unusual but awesome! Our club opened our contest event (see below story) with two Ice Breakers by Rose-Anne St.Jean and Andrea Malick (left to right in upper photo).

Both Andrea and Rose-Anne presented superb introductory speeches in front of the lectern and without notes. Wow!

Thank you, Andrea and Rose-Anne, for your inspiring presentations!


September 25, 2014

Valley Town Toastmasters conducted their Annual Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contest. Everybody won!

It was an action packed event with started with two Ice Breakers before the contests started.

The Table Topics Contest consisted of a two-minute impromptu presentation. In this case, the topic was "patience".

The winners, pictured left to right beside Kenrick Chin (Contest Chair), are Karen Wood (1st), Marie-Louise Kallsen (2nd) and Derek Livingstone (3rd).

The Humorous Speech Contest had presentations of seven-minute prepared speeches. The winners are pictured in the above photo, left to right beside Kenrick Chin (Contest Chief Judge), Nina Goncharenko (1st), Gary Reid (2nd) and Karen Wood (3rd).

Our top two place finishers for both contests will advance to the Area 51 Contest that will be held in our meeting room on October 9.

Contests are club events that try to get everyone involved as either a contestant, official or, sometimes, both. For over 20 years, Beverley and Gary Reid have participated and supported our club contests.

Rose Kulyk followed Gary's lead by being both a contestant and a contest official. Unlike Gary, this was Rose's first contest event but you wouldn't know it based on the level of her enthusiasm. Thank you, Rose, for the joy that you bring to our events!

One person who really embodied our Table Topics subject - "patience" - was Zhao Hui, our timer. Hui never stopped working throughout the evening. Members like him represent the true success of our club. Thank you, Hui!

Thank you, everyone, for making this club contest very successful and memorable!


September 11, 2014

Our club member Karen Wood (centre in photo) gave a special presentation to the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE).

Karen's topic was about handling the fear of public speaking in which she gave personal examples.

The IODE was founded in 1900 and is involved in many generous and worthwhile events such as their War Memorial Scholarships for students.

Such speaking opportunities as this gives our members a chance to enhance their skills outside of our club while providing a service to others at the same time.

Well done, Karen! It was a great speech for an excellent organization.


September 4, 2014

Sahil Arora (left in photo) was warmly welcomed as a new member by VP Membership, Artur Filc.

Sahil is a Hamilton resident and he is working on a post-graduate degree. His interest in joining Toastmasters was to improve his presentation skills while learning in a positive environment.

Welcome, Sahil!


August 28, 2014

Our club was very pleased to induct Rose-Anne St.Jean as a member.

Rose-Anne is a Dundas resident and she joined Toastmasters to improve her comfort level with presentations and speaking skills.

She is pictured being welcomed by VP Membership, Artur Filc.

Welcome, Rose-Anne!


August 19, 2014

An excited group of young people graduated from a Youth Leadership Program that was conducted at the Dundas Public Library.

Pictured in the centre of the photo are program coordinators Jaime Jewer and Valley Town Toastmaster Imelda Esporlas-Jewer.

The Youth Leadership certificates were enclosed in beautiful portfolios provided by our local Member of Parliament, The Honourable David Sweet.

Congratulations to our graduates!


August 15-17, 2014

For the 6th straight year, Valley Town Toastmasters and fellow members from neighbouring clubs promoted the benefits of our organization to the public at the Cactus Festival with an information pavilion.

From Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, there were enthusiastic representatives providing information to interested people.

Pictured in the photo is (left to right) is Geneva Neale and Gerri McManamy.

It was another great opportunity to work with our local clubs.


August 14, 2014

Members, family, friends and fellow Toastmasters from nearby clubs took part in this year's Cactus Festival Parade.

It was a festive occasion with our participants dancing most of the 2.2 kilometer parade route. Click on this link to watch a brief video.

Thank you, everyone, for making this event very memorable!


August 7, 2014

Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to welcome Andrea Malick as a new member at a meeting in the Dundas Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Andrea is a corporate consultant who is working on enhancing her presentation skills. She is pictured being greeted by Artur Filc, VP Membership.

Welcome, Andrea!


July 24, 2014

Valley Town Toastmasters participated in a historic walking tour of Dundas, one of the oldest communities in Ontario.

A great turnout was guided by one of the town's most ardent history buffs.

Thank you, Stan, for donating your time to sharing your knowledge and passion of Dundas' history with our club!


June 26, 2014

The weather was perfect and so were the people!

Toastmasters and friends from all over attended our annual barbecue to share their good cheer.

Thanks to the generosity of our club member, Jonathan Spiegel (right in photo), who hosted this event at his home, we all had a great time.

Thanks also go to Steve Bartley (left in photo) of Honeymoon Toastmasters for this entire collection of excellent photos. Steve painstakingly took a lot of beautiful pictures that were difficult to choose from for this posting. 

There was a lot of food to go along with the camaraderie. Old friendships were re-united and new ones were made.

We had great musical accompaniment with club members Kenrick Chin and Mark Mullins and friends.

From Left to right: Rose (Valley Town), Phil & Lori (Honeymoon), James & Imelda (Valley Town).

         Karen & Caroline                                         Artur (Valley Town) &
      (Valley Town Toastmasters)                     Dale (Mansion Toastmasters)


May 9, 2014

On Canada's first National Day of Honour, the Dundas Branch of The Royal Canadian Legion recognized the 2nd place Dominion (national) finisher of its 2013 Annual Colour Poster Contest at Westdale Secondary School.

Srinidhi Shaw, a Grade 10 student, submitted the entry that will be displayed in the lobby of the House of Commons during Remembrance Week, 2014.

Srinidhi is pictured with our club member, Tony Bratschitsch, who made the presentation in his capacity at the branch's Youth Leadership Education Chair.

A number of our club members also participated in this event by helping to judge the entries at the branch level.

Congratulations to Srinidhi!


March 15, 2014

During the last five years, our Valley Town Toastmasters club has benefited from our friendly relationship with the Dundas Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Quite often, we have used their facilities to host some of our meetings, Christmas parties and to even stage contests for other Toastmaster Areas outside of our own. As well, many of our members have joined the Legion.

Last year, we were asked to run their Annual Literary & Poster Contest that promotes Remembrance to the students in the Canadian school system.

Valley Town members, such as Imelda Esporlas-Jewer, Judy Shepalo, Karen Wood, Nina Goncharenko and Tony Bratschitsch were involved in judging 67 submissions from local school children in the categories of poetry, essays, black & white and colour posters.

All four of our senior (Grade 10 - 12) winners went on to win at the next level (Zone) with three submissions winning at the District.

One of our student's entries - a colour poster created by Srinidhi Shaw (Grade 10 at Westdale High School) won the Provincial Command 1st Place finish and will now vie for the Dominion (national) honours.

Srinidhi was recognized at the Dundas Legion's Honours & Awards Banquet  on March 15, 2014 where she received a number of awards and gifts from the Royal Canadian Legion. Srinidhi is pictured with our club member Tony Bratschitsch who is the Legion Branch's Education & Leadership Chair.

This is a joint effort of our club working with our excellent community neighbour, Branch 36 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Thank you to our club members for helping with this success!


March 6, 2014

Our club was pleased to induct Katherine Finelli as a new member. Katherine, a Hamilton resident, is studying towards an advanced degree in the social field. She is also involved with computer technology and marketing.

Katherine (right in photo) is shown being welcomed by Esther Smith, VP Public Relations.

Thank you, Katherine!


March 6, 2014

Sandra Green (right in photo) was warmly welcomed as a member by VP Public Relations, Esther Smith

Sandra is a Dundas resident who has a passion for nature and animals. She also has a particular interest for northern Canada.

Welcome, Sandra!


February 15, 2014

Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to induct Aileen Verheul as a new member. 

Aileen is a medical professional who wishes to improve her presentation skills including public speaking.

She is shown in the photo with Artur Filc, VP Membership.

We look forward to growing with you, Aileen!


February 15, 2014

David Hayes (left in photo) was inducted as a member (for the 2nd time). He had belonged to our club before and his interest was rekindled when he attended our 20th Anniversary Celebration two weeks earlier.

David is a financial services specialist who enjoys public speaking and he is interested in improving his inter-communication skills. He is pictured with Artur Filc, VP Membership.

Welcome back, David!


February 15, 2014

Valley Town Toastmasters conducted its Annual International Speech & Evaluation Contest with a good number of enthusiastic competitors.

Pictured above from left to right: International Speech Contest Chair Mark Mullins, 2nd place finisher Artur Filc, winner Sergio DiGiovanni and 3rd place finisher Jonathan Spiegel.

Jonathan Spiegel won the Evaluation Contest with Nina Goncharenko earning 2nd place.

Thank you to all of our contestants, officials and guests for making this a memorable evening!


January 30, 2014

A lot happened at Valley Town's 20th Anniversary - before the event as well as during this special occasion.

For the full story, please click on this 20th Anniversary link.

Thank you to Karen Wood and the Committee for all your hard work!

Again, please go to the 20th Anniversary page for more details.


January 15, 2014

Our Immediate Past President, Karen Wood, has worked very hard to help VMware Toastmasters in Burlington charter their new club, late last year.

In her official role as Club Mentor, Karen assisted in launching their first meeting on May 28, 2013 and all the way through until their Charter Party on November 26.

While most Mentors would leave their roles upon chartering, Karen has continued to visit and support VMware to ensure their ongoing success. She is pictured in the above photo along with VMware club president Faisal Akber during a visit on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.

It is such commitment to other Toastmasters outside of our club that truly makes Toastmasters a satisfying and wonderful experience.

Well done, Karen!

Valley Town Proud!

Folding Lectern for Youths

January 12, 2014

Al Wood, husband of respected Toastmaster, Karen (pictured in photo), graciously donated a folding lectern for the Valley Town's Youth Leadership Program.

Ingeniously designed and skillfully constructed, this folding lectern will help showcase our members' commitment to the youth of our community.

Thank you, Al!

"We remember!"
November 11, 2013
On a cold, blustery and rainy day, club president Kenrick Chin laid Valley Town Toastmaster's commemorative Remembrance Day wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph on Market Street in Dundas.
Accompanying Kenrick, left in the photo, is club member Tony Bratschitsch with the Dundas Golf & Curling Club's wreath. The Dundas Golf & Curling Club is hosting our 20th Anniversary on January 30, 2014.

October 10, 2013
Every year about this time, every Toastmaster club in the world (+14,000) conducts their annual Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contests.
Valley Town Toastmasters had a very successful contest night with four contestants for the Table Topics and five for the Humorous Speech.
The Table Topics contest features the challenge of instantly presenting a two-minute speech without preparation.
This short speech must have an opening and closing that is connected along with a message or story.
This is an excellent skill that is worth developing for many types of professional, social and personal situations.
The 1st place winner was Jonathan Spiegel and the 2nd place finisher was Imelda Esporlas-Jewer (left) with Karen Wood, Contest Chair, in the above photo.
The Humorous Speech Contest involved seven-minute speeches that were entertaining in nature. The first place winner was Karen Wood, 3rd from the right, and the 2nd place winner was Kate Cave, 2nd from the left. Faith West, far left, Jonathan Spiegel, 2nd from the right, and third place finisher, Gary Reid, far right, also gave great performances. All pictured in the above photo is Mark Mullins, Contest Chair, 3rd from the left.
The first and second place winners from both of our contests will be representing Valley Town Toastmasters at the Area 51 Contests on Thursday, October 24, 2013, at the Dundas Town Hall upper auditorium.
Valley Town Proud!

 October 3, 2013

Faith West gave her Ice Breaker - her first speech - about "finding her voice". She spoke about being the youngest child in a large family and learning how to be heard among the midst of an active family.

Faith described her life journey from Jamaica to Canada and how she "found her voice". Her Ice Breaker was an excellent presentation and we look forward to many more.

Well done, Faith!


September 26, 2013

Mandy Dreyer was warmly welcomed into Valley Town Toastmasters as a new member.

Mandy joined our club to improve her presentation skills and her comfort level in front of large groups of people. She is a business owner specializing in sports therapy.

Mandy is a renown elite cyclist who enjoys the outdoors. Our club is excited that she will be sharing her experiences as we grow together.

Welcome, Mandy! 


September 26, 2013

Valley Town Toastmasters were thrilled to induct Faith West as a new member to our club.

Faith is a local resident and an accomplished business executive who has recently become a full time entrepreneur.

She joined Toastmasters to improve her already excellent presentation skills.

Welcome, Faith!


September 19, 2013

Josie Gallitrico presented her first speech - the Ice Breaker - to the club. 

As is the norm, the Ice Breaker gives a new member the opportunity to stand in front of a group of people while talking about herself so that the club members get to know her better.

What a wonderful job Josie did! Standing in front, she told us a delightful story of her education and career paths that took her from Argentina to South Africa to Canada.

Having started as an engineer, Josie transferred her excellent personal skills and disciplined engineering background to the world of real estate sales.

Thank you for sharing your story, Josie!

August 15, 2013
Toastmasters from six clubs came out to march with Valley Town Toastmasters at the annual Cactus Festival Parade. Altogether, there were 42 participants, including friends and family, that enjoyed the 2.3 kilometre stroll through Dundas' packed parade route.
The "Traveling Toaster" made another return performance to the crowd's delight. At the steady helm was Artur Filc, Valley Town's Vice-President Membership with his son, Richard, alongside.
Grace Trushinski of Hamilton No. 1 Toastmasters was one of the many members from neighbouring clubs that came out to promote the Toastmaster program to the community.
Other clubs were Access Toastmasters, Ambitious City Toastmasters, Brant Toastmasters, Burlington Advanced Toastmasters, McMaster Toastmasters and, of course, Valley Town Toastmasters.
Helping us pass out business cards along the way were many young family members, such as Jackson and Victoria.
As you can see from the back of their shirts, they know a good program when they see one.
A special thank you to our Parade Master, Jonathan Spiegel, for arranging - and inspiring - another record turnout of participants.
Valley Town Proud!

July 13, 2013
Valley Town Toastmasters sent a big message to the district on behalf of its fellow clubs.
At the beginning of the first District 86 Executive Council Meeting, our club member and District Governor Tony Bratschitsch presented the Giant Gavel (see story below) to its 44 Area Governors, 8 Division Governors and 15 executives.
Our message was "...on behalf of the over 200 clubs and nearly 5000 members in District 86, Valley Town Toastmasters of Dundas, Ontario, presents this Giant Gavel as a reminder of our duties as executives to work towards the educational success and personal growth of each and every member."
The Giant Gavel is pictured with the above group of Division Governors who lead the district's eight divisions.
Also, the same photo was featured on the front page of the District 86 web site.
Our message was obviously well received and the Giant Gavel is now a part of our District 86 legacy in the pursuit of educational excellence!
Well done, Valley Town Toastmasters!

July 11, 2013
Every Toastmaster club is directed by an elected group of seven officers who have specific roles.
Valley Town Toastmasters new executive was inducted by Area 51 Governor Diana Parker (far left).
From left to right are Julia Juarez (Secretary), Nina Goncharenko (Treasurer), Karen Wood (Immediate Past President), Kenrick Chin (President & Vice-President Education) and Artur Filc (Vice-President Membership).
Missing from the photo are Esther Smith (Vice-President Public Relations) and Colin Tan (Sergeant-At-Arms).
We are very fortunate to have such an excellent team of volunteers who are dedicated to the well-being of our club and its members' progress.
Thank you to our 2013 - 2014 executive!

July 11, 2013
Kelly Massey
of Stoney Creek, Ontario, returned to our club to present Valley Town Toastmasters with another special gift - a giant gavel.
This was the second such contribution by Kelly with the first being on November 1, 2012 - also a specially handcrafted gavel. This time, the gavel was even larger and was designated for a presentation to District 86 on behalf of Valley Town Toastmasters.
Kelly is pictured in the above file photo from his first visit along with club past president, Karen Wood.
Karen is shown in the left photo handing off the original Big Gavel to incoming president, Kenrick Chin.
Kelly's Giant Gavel can be seen in the forefront of the photo.
Thank you, Kelly, for your significant and symbolic contributions to Valley Town Toastmasters!



June 27, 2013

Over 80 Toastmasters and guests from Oakville through Niagara Falls attended our annual Summer Barbecue.
Once again, ultimate host Jonathan Spiegel provided his home and back yard for this event.
The weather was great and so was the camaraderie and friendship as we had a chance to catch up with old friends and new!
Live musical entertainment was provided by our club members Kenrick Chin and Mark Mullins along with Kenrick's son Patrick and family friend Dan. This was a great time to dance to the music!
Club president Karen Wood (left in photo) and Committee Chair Kate Cave (right) announced the winner of the Toastmaster-of-the Year (non-executive) as Maureen Hills, a very deserving achievement!
Congratulations, Maureen!
Thank you, everyone, for a fantastic barbecue event!
June 13, 2013
Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to welcome Josie Gallitrico as a new member to our club.
Josie is a real estate professional who lives in Dundas with her family. She is originally from Argentina and one of her favourite pastimes this summer is watching her son play baseball.
Josie joined Toastmasters to improve her presentation skills. She is pictured in the left of the photo along with club president Karen Wood.
Welcome, Josie!

April 28, 2013
Local Toastmasters volunteered their services to provide judging at the 10th Annual Southern Air Cadet Debate Competition at Mohawk College in Hamilton.
22 squadrons of cadets, including their debating teams, coaches and officials, provided hotly contested arguments on two resolutions - one prepared and the other impromptu.
Supporting such an organization of motivated young men and women is one of the finest contributions that we can make to our society.
This was the fourth year of our club members' participation in this event.
Pictured above, left to right, are Heather Rush (Hamilton TSO Toastmasters), our Karen Wood, members of a local air squadron and Tony Bratschitsch.

April 27, 2013
The Art Gallery of Hamilton was the scene of a historic visit by members of Valley Town Toastmasters.
A large group of our members with some friends and family enjoyed inspecting the world class collection of Napoleonic memorabilia from the early 19th century.
Despite Napoleon's legendary hostile nature, our event was relatively peaceful until Tony spilled a pot of tea over Viola's place setting at the restaurant, whereupon war was promptly declared.
Pictured above, left to right, are Valley Town club members Tony Bratschitsch, Imelda Esporlas-Jewer, Karen Wood, Viola Mueller, Beverley Reid, Esther Smith, Jonathan Spiegel and Artur Filc.
If you look closely at Napoleon's painting, Gary Reid has taken his place, leading the charge!
Thank you to Esther Smith for organizing this wonderful outing!

April 25, 2013
Lavinia Hoff enthralled our club with her first speech (Ice Breaker) titled "How New Age Music Stole My Spontaneity and How I Got it Back".
During her speech, Lavinia described how, in the past, her loss of passion was related to her temporary fascination with "New Age" music. 
Thanks to her young son's astuteness, Lavinia rediscovered her spontaneity, as she certainly proved to us by jumping in with her Ice Breaker with just a few hours of preparation.
Very inspiring and well done, Lavinia!

April 19 - 21, 2013
District 86 held its 2013 Spring Conference at the Burlington Holiday Inn for its 209 clubs throughout Southern, Central and Northern Ontario.
This conference had a distinctive Valley Town flavour with our club member Tony Bratschitsch being inducted as the District Governor for the 2013- 2014 year (pictured above).
Our club president Karen Wood was in attendance and she greatly enjoyed the educational work shops that were conducted throughout the conference.
Club members Jonathan Spiegel and Marie Pavone were at the conference for the Saturday events.
Tony Bratschitsch was also an
inaugral recipient of the District 86 MMAD (Member Making A Difference) Award.
Valley Town Proud!

April 11, 2013
Valley Town Toastmasters were treated to Melanie Booth's Ice Breaker, her first speech, titled "My Musical Life".
She took us through her journey of musical genres starting with "rock", "oldies", "classics" and currently, "country".
We enjoyed Melanie's reminiscing of her role as a young band member during her short "industrial music" stint.
Although she focused on music in her initial presentation, we were left with the distinct impression that Melanie has a huge creative streak.
Stay tuned, Valley Town!

April 11, 2013
Welcome to Julia Dawn Juarez!
She joined Valley Town Toastmasters to improve her comfort level while communicating with large groups of people.
Julia is a Hamilton business woman who enjoys health, horses and painting.
She is pictured being greeted by Artur Filc, Vice-President Membership.
We're looking forward to growing with you, Julia!

Toastmasters in the News
April 11, 2013
The Ancaster News and the Dundas Star weekly newspapers published a photograph of our booth that we had in the Home & Lifestyle Show on April 6.
Such media coverage is a welcomed contribution to an ongoing membership drive of which has made Valley Town Toastmasters probably the biggest "small town" club in the district.

April 6, 2013
For the 2nd year in a row, Valley Town Toastmasters participated in the Dundas Home & Lifestyle Show, presented by the Rotary Club of Dundas, at the Lions Community Centre.
Once again, the club had an opportunity to develop community awareness while trying to build membership.
Pictured working our exhibit booth is Esther Smith, Vice-President Public Relations and Jonathan Spiegel.
Other club members volunteered their time throughout the day-long event to talk to visitors about the benefits of Toastmaster membership.
This event also gave individual members a chance to show case their own businesses and other community event participation.
Judy Shepalo of our club also had an exhibit booth, marketing her realty "service package" to prospective clients, such as senior citizens.
Judy is pictured along with her husband and our good friend, Gary Wyber.
Allyson Wenzowski
(left in photo) was also at the Home Show representing the Hamilton Conservation Foundation.
Particularly, Allyson is specializing with the new exciting Dundas Eco-Park project.
Sue Wunderlich is pictured with her son, David, at her "healthy choice" food exhibit. 
She also had an opportunity to act as a spokeperson for a local restaurant, giving her a chance to enhance her public presentation skills.
Sue is pictured being interviewed by local radio personalities regarding the restaurant's cuisinary attractions.
Thank you to the following members who provided assistance to our exhibit throughout the day:
Abeer Musleh
Esther Smith
Jonathan Spiegel
Kenrick Chin
Patricia Cirillo
Tony Bratschitsch

Toastmasters in the News
"Toastmasters & Business"
April 5, 2013
One of our club members, Tony Bratschitsch, was featured in a local online business magazine,
Tony talked about the value of Toastmaster training in the business world, which includes presentations, reports, interviews and running meetings. is a daily online subscription-based business magazine operated by the same organization that owns the Hamilton Spectator and Toronto Star.

April 4, 2013
Charissa Williams gave her first speech, her Ice Breaker, titled "I am a Gemini". 
She based her speech on the Gemini zodiac sign which symbolizes "twins".  Playing off that, Charissa talked about two different pathways that she has followed throughout her life.
Sprinked with humour and interspersed with wit and a good sense of timing, Charissa displayed the skills - and the will - to become an outstanding speaker.
Superb presentation, Charissa!

April 4, 2013
Our club member, Tony Bratschitsch, wa
asked by the Community Food Advisors (CFA) to conduct a training session on "Effective Presentations".
The Community Food Advisors program is part of the City of Hamilton's Public Health Services Department.  Their goal is to help members of the public select and prepare healthier foods.  The CFAs, themselves, are dedicated volunteers with a passion for civic service and personal growth.
This is another instance of one of our club members providing a service to the community.

March 28, 2013
Mon J Gamil, our Division L International Speech Contest champion, presented his winning speech to our club.
Titled "Raiders of the Lost Art", Mon's speech was about personal virtue and was based on both fact and fiction.
We were touched by his humanity and impressed by his sincerity.
Certainly, Mon has a great message to deliver when he challenges for the District 86 championship in Burlington on April 20.
Reach out and touch some more, Mon!

March 28, 2013
Patricia Cirillo's first speech - her Ice Breaker - was a family affair.
Accompanied by husband, Pablo, and daughter, Jessica, Patricia spoke about her arrival to Canada. She told us an amusing story of how "helpful" Pablo was in obtaining her recent job.
Young Jessica wrapped up the Ice Breaker with a lovely rendition of our national anthem, "Oh, Canada!".
A memorable Ice Breaker! Well done!

March 28, 2013
Valley Town Toastmasters welcomed Makarand Vaidya into our club as a new member.
Makarand is an Information Technology professional who resides in Ancaster with his family.
He joined Toastmasters to improve his comfort level with public speaking and impromptu presentations.
Makarand is pictured with club charter member and evening chair, Gary Reid (left), and Vice-President of Membership, Artur Filc.
We look forward to growing with you, Makarand!

March 28, 2013
Lavinia Hoff was welcomed into Valley Toastmasters as a new member.
Lavinia is a Dundas resident with a passion for nature's beauty, such as gardening and the outdoors.
She joined Toastmasters to improve her public speaking and preentation skills.
Lavinia is pictured with club charter member and evening chair, Gary Reid (left), and Vice-President of Membership, Artur Filc.
Welcome to our club, Lavinia!

March 14, 2013
Michael Churm gave hist first speech - the Ice Breaker - about his upbringing in hometown Dundas.
He regaled us about his childhood adventures throughout the neighbourhoods and parks with his friends and about his career in the health industry.
Michael's presentation was a warm story about a great work-in-progress - an adventure through life.
Way to go, Michael!

March 14, 2013
Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to induct Colin Tan into our club.
Colin is a university student who enjoys sporting activities with his friends and family.
He joined Toastmasters to improve his communication and presentation skills.
Colin is pictured, left in photo, with club Vice President Membership Artur Filc.
Welcome, Colin!

March 7, 2013
Charissa Williams was welcomed into our club as one of our newest members.
She joined our club to build her public speaking confidence and to learn new communication skills. She is seen in the picture being greeted by club VP Membership, Artur Filc.
Charissa is a corporate interior designer by profession who happens to enjoy the same role as a hobbyist. She prides herself on her arts and musical skills.
Welcome, Charissa!

March 7, 2013
Melanie Booth was welcomed as a new member by VP Membership, Artur Filc, and the rest of our club.
Melanie joined Toastmasters to improve her "message delivery" where she could better present her thoughts in a clearer manner.
She is a resident of Hamilton and enjoys design/rennovating, racing and singing.
We look forward to laughing and learning, together!

March 4, 2013
Valley Town Toastmasters is one of four clubs that belong to Area 51.  The area conducted its annual International Speech & Evaluation Contests in Brantford, graciously hosted by Brant Toastmasters.
Our club's International Speech contestants, Maureen Hills and Karen Wood, along with our Evaluation contestants, Maureen Hills (club double contest winner) and Jennifer Noble presented outstanding performances.
Maureen is pictured 4th from the left in the above photo, Jennifer is 2nd from the left, and our club member Gary Reid, Chair of the Evaluation Contest is on the far right.
Maureen placed second in the area's International Speech Contest.
Well done, everyone!

February 28, 2013
Patricia Cirillo was inducted as a new member of Valley Town Toastmasters.  She came to Canada nine years ago and has learned to tolerate our winters while falling in love with our country.
Patricia joined Toastmasters to help her with her communication and netwoking skills.  She is a web page designer with a stong focus on creativity.
Patricia is pictured with Artur Filc, Vice-President of Membership.
Welcome, Patricia!

Getting Ready for our 20th!
February 28, 2013
Club President Karen Wood officially launched our preparation for Valley Town Toastmasters's 20th Anniversary Celebration to be held in January, 2014.
Committees are being established, Committee Chairs are being selected and the program is being planned.
We will be honouring those that started the club in 1994 and we will be celebrating our many successes that happened along the way.
We are fortunate to have two charter members, Mark Mullins and Gary Reid, still in our club actively guiding our course.
Historical information, such as media releases and the charter programme is available on our History's Archive page on our web site.

February 21, 2013
At this time of year, about 13,000 Toastmaster clubs in over 120 countries stage their Annual International Speech & Evaluation Contests.
It was Valley Town Toastmasters delight to conduct their own with the newer members giving the veterans an enthusiastic challenge.
The Evaluation Contest was the first of the evening giving the contestants the opportunity to provide 2-3 minute insightful critiques of a "target" speaker's presentation.
The participants, shown from left to right, were Jonathan Spiegel, Maureen Hills, Jennifer Noble and Karen Wood, contest chair.
The top two finishers, Maureen and Jennifer, will be representing Valley Town Toastmasters in the Area 51 Evaluation Contest in Brantford on March 4.

Either Maureen or Jennifer could eventually go all the way to the District 86 finals in Burlington on April 21.
The International Speech Contest provided our contestants with a chance to present entertaining or inspirational 5-7 minute speeches of their own origin.
The contestants are pictured above, left to right, Maureen Hills (double champion), Karen Wood, Jonathan Spiegel, Sue Wunderlich, and Viola Mueller alongside Mark Mullins, contest chair.
The two top place finishers, Maureen and Karen, will be representing our club at the Area 51 Contest on March 4.
Either one of them has the opportunity to eventually represent District 86 at the International Speech Contest in August in Cincinnati, Ohio.
All of our members - contestants, officials and audience - were winners this evening.
Well done, every one!

February 14, 2013
In her first presentation - the Ice Breaker - Jennifer Noble told us how a twist in life gave her an appreciation for family and nature.
As a young teenager, Jenn's family decided to leave the city life when they moved up north to live in a rural setting.
After she overcame the usual forgivings expected from a teenager, Jenn developed a passion for the simple things in life.
While being a memorable speech, her Ice Breaker also served to be a profound and thoughtful inspiration.
Well done, Jenn!

February 14, 2013
Hui Zhao gave his first speech - his Ice Breaker - with a power point presentation.
Zhao spoke about his upbringing in his home city in central China, about his education and about his family of his wife and twin sons.
The power point presentation, itself, had a distinctive Chinese flavour to it with beautiful design and brilliant colour.
This was a delightful Ice Breaker that our club thoroughly enjoyed.
Thank you, Zhao!

January 24, 2013
Welcome to Michael Churm, our newest member!
Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to welcome Michael into our club.
A long time resident of Dundas, Michael is a healthcare professional who enjoys travelling, reading and cooking.
He joined Toastmasters to improve his public speaking.
Michael is pictured, left in the photo, being welcomed by Artur Filc, Vice-President Membership.

Valley Town Toastmasters in the Media
January 11, 2013
Two of Valley Town Toastmasters' members worked extremely hard to enhance the communication skills of a group of young members of our society.
Karen Wood (far right in photo) and Imelda Esporlas-Jewer (far left presented a twelve-week version of Toastmasters International's Youth Leadership Program to students of the Dundas Valley Home School Co-Operative.
The photograph was taken at the graduation ceremony on December 13, 2012, and was recently published in both the Dundas Star-News and Ancaster News weekly newspapers.
Congratulations to Karen and Imelda for their hard work and leadership!
Valley Town Proud!

January 10, 2013
Nina Goncharenko presented her first speech, her Ice Breaker.
Titled "About Nina", Nina spoke about her early childhood within her close family in the Ukraine.
As she talked about her education in the fields of botomy and biology, it was evident to all listeners that Nina has a love of knowledge and, probably more importantly, a desire to share that knowledge.
We are excited about her Nina's passion for people and life and we look forward to growing with her.
Well done, Nina!

January 10, 2013
Jennifer Noble was inducted as Valley Town Toastmasters' newest member.
She has joined Toastmasters to improve her public speaking skills to support her life coaching business.
Jennifer's family roots are based in Dundas and it is with pleasure that we welcome her into our club.
Jennifer is seen in the photo with Artur Filc, Vice-President Membership.
Welcome, Jennifer!