2018 Activities

Christmas Party

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.


Distinguished Toastmaster

December 13, 2018

Karen Wood, DTM 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 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, who received his designation in 2012. Tony was also a Division Governor (2011-2012) and the District 86 Governor (2013-2014).

Congratulations, Karen!

Karen Wood, DTM receiving congratulatory flowers from VP Membership Joanne Peters.
Karen Wood, DTM and Tony Bratschitsch, DTM

Our 25th Anniversary

December 13, 2018

During our Christmas party, Valley Town Toastmasters celebrated its 25th anniversary of serving its members and the community.

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.

Emily Nichols presenting a cake to the club

A Superb Contest

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.

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!

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.

A Global 'Butt Kicking'

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 USA, France, Netherlands, Barbados, Germany, South 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.

Tony Bratschitsch gets hit "butt kicked" again by Emily Nichols.

The "First" to Complete

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!

Tall Tales Contest

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.

At the Centotaph

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.

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.

Fellow club member Tony Bratschitsch (centre), was in attendance as a member of the Royal Canadian Legion's Colour Party
The Valley Town wreath
Dale Skvereckas and Glenn Van Rennesse with the Valley Town wreath

Remembrance Meeting

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!

At the Expo

October 27, 2018

Four of our club members attended the Division L Expo at Niagara College in Niagara Falls.

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.

From left to right: Joanne Peters, Karen Wood, Glenn Van Renesse and Emily Nichols.
Our club president, Karen Wood, was a featured speaker

Strong Club Presence at District Awards Event

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.

The "Division Director of the Year" award was given to Division D Director Kyla Werrett, DTM..

Pictured 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

Energetics Toastmasters Club of Waterloo club president 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.

4th Annual Golf Tournament. Another Big Success

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!

The Green Jacket went to Team One, and were proudly worn by the two Davids, in turn.

Our organizer, Dale, 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!

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.
(left to right): Dale Skverkeckas (organizer), Tony Bratschitsch, David Tomowich, David Hayes (seated),
Team One Winners, David Tomowich and David Hayes (seated)

A winning run!

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

Cactus Festival Parade

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!

Valley Town members marching along
Cactus Festival 2018
David and Lorraine riding in style

Running for Fun!

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 the 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!

"Beer mile" champiion Lorraine Gavloski

Thank you to Artur

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.

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.

Karen Wood and Artur Flic holding the "ribbon box"
"Ribbon Box" centre piece on the Awards Table display of our 20th Anniversary event.

Fantastic Barbecue

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!

Sitting around the fire listening to "Timeline"
"Timeline" catered to all tastes
BBQ Chefs
Chariot to the fire
Birthday Cake for Darryl

Air Cadet Debate

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.

Creative & Generous

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!

Karen Wood preparing the silent auction gifts
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Visiting another club

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!

David Hayes Best Speake and Best Table Topics

Literary Passion

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!