2015 Activities

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 as Black Peter and Karen Wood 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) 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 photo) and homemade pies (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!!!)

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!

Margaret DeBoer (left) as Black Peter and Karen Wood (right) as Father/Mother Christmas
Shoe boxes for Shelters
Tony Bratschitsch with a blazing cake
Traditional Turkey Dinner buffet style
Homemade Pies for Dessert

Youth Leadership Project Graduation

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!

From left to right: Jamie Jewerand Imelda Esporlas-Jewer, being, thanked by Sophie

New Member

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.

From left to right: Karen Wood, Stephanie Kelcey.

Remembrance 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!

Kenrick Chin and Dale Skvereckas placed our wreath at the foot of the cenotaph

New Member

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!

Karen Wood greeting Lori Lishman.

New Member

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!

From left to right Marg DeBoer, Samantha Kilburn, Kenrick Chin

Thanksgiving Delight

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!

Green Jacket

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!

The Golden Toaster
Dale Skvereckas presents Kenrick Chin the Golden Toaster

Area 51 Contest Winners

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!

1st Golf Tournament

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 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!

David Hayes, carting along
Sergio DiGiovanni led his team to victory

Club Contests

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.

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!

From left-to-right: Karen Wood, Bryan Hustler, Marie-Louise Kallsen, Marg DeBoer, David Hayes, Tony Bratschitsch, Sergio DiGiovanni and Jacob Lethbridge.

Cactus Festival Parade

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.

Parade Time!
Pictured 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

Summer Barbecue

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.

Helping the Air Cadets

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!

Wine & Food Pairing

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.

Rose-Anne St.Jean conducted this event

Club Contests

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).

A Visit to the Planetarium

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.

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

It was a heavenly evening for all!

image created by Viola Mueller
VP Education Kenrick Chin (far left) showing his university lab to members of our club and their guests
Super at the Phoneix Pub