2017 Activities

Fantastic Christmas Party

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, 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 (see 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.

Fantastic Christmas Party at IL Fiasco
Thank you Lisa Anderson for leading the organization committee.
Paul Beck, welcomed us with a toast
Past President, Karen Wood

Shoe boxes for Shelters

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.

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.

From left to right 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.
Shoe boxes for Shelters

New Member

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

New Member Queena Zhang with Jacob Lethbridge

We Remember

November 11, 2018

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!

Tony Bratschitsch, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion's Colour Party
Dale Skvereckas and Joel Porter with the Valley Town wreath
Lisa Anderson with a Dundas BIA wreath

New Member

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!

New Member Dana Murray with Joel Porter

Excellent Performance

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.

Jacob Lethbridge at Division L Table Topics Contest

New Member

October 19, 2017

Joel Porter 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!

New Member Joel Porter being welcomed by Jacob Lethbridge

Area 51 Contest Winner

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.

Valley Town Proud!

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

Club Contests

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, won the Humorous Speech Contest and Jacob Lethbridge, won the Table Topics Contest. Both winners will represent Valley Town Toastmasters in the Area 51 Contest in Brantford on October 2. Dale Skvereckas, 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.

from left to right, Lori Lishman, Contest Chair, Jacob Lethbridge Dale Skvereckas, Paul Beck and Myrna Barthe, Division L Governor

New Member

September 7, 2017

Valley Town Toastmasters were pleased to welcome Glenn Van Renesse 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!

New Member Glenn Van Renesse being welcomed by Jacob Lethbridge

Summer Fun

August 27, 2017

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

In the photo below 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!

Karen Wood providing cooking support

Great Times at 3rd Annual Golf Tournament

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 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.

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!

Champions (left to right): Mark Mullins, Captain Carrie Mullins and Sergio Di Giovanni.
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.

Fantastic Barbecue

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 photos.

Mohawk College (Again)

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!

Golden Toaster Stays

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.

Valley Town retained the "Golden Toaster"

Area Contest Winners

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.

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!

Left to right in 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.

Mohawk College Presentations

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

‘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.

Helping Another Club

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 photo below, 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 photo below 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.