Friday, November 28, 2014

Building Permits Not Required For Houses that Benefit Center Programs

Builders, far right, work on the 2013 Gingerbread House at
 River City Casino and Hotel 

Building and decorating a new home right before the holidays can be enough stress to send even the easiest going among us straight to the eggnog punch. For Executive Pastry Chefs Eric Phillips and Stephan Schubert, it’s weekend work, and no building permits are required.

The two award-winning chefs led culinary arts teams that constructed two life-size gingerbread houses, one for Ameristar Casino Resort Spa St. Charles and the other for River City Casino and Hotel, the weekend before Thanksgiving.
It’s all for a great cause.

The chefs, Pinnacle Entertainment and iHeartMedia’s 103.3 KLOU are all working hard to raise money to benefit the Center for Hearing & Speech’s Not So Silent Night (NSSN) event.

In addition to the smell of gingerbread wafting through the air, inside the houses are ‘roomy' dining tables for six. For a $25 reservation fee per person, you can eat a pre-set three-course meal or order something off the regular menu. The $25 reservation fee is donated directly to the Center to help ensure Not So Silent Nights become reality for those with communications disorders.

The ‘architect’ of the homes is Cindy Collins, a member of the Center’s board of directors and on air talent at 103.3 KLOU. A few years ago, she and her contact at Pinnacle Entertainment tossed around ideas to raise money for the Center. Her contact came up with the idea of NSSN. The first year Pinnacle properties offered a turkey burger and donated money to the Center for each one sold.

“The second year, River City’s Executive Chef John Johnson had the idea for the gingerbread houses,” Collins said. “He’d always built a small one as a display and thought, ‘Why not max it out and let people dine inside?’ He teamed up with the executive pastry chef and they built two amazing houses, one for each property,” she said.

Last year there was one house at River City Casino and Hotel.

This year, the two NSSN gingerbread houses are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday, November 24 to Wednesday, December 24.

Reservations for dining at the Ameristar house can be made by calling 636-940-4454. Please call 314-388-7625 for reservations at River City.

There will be a life-size Gingerbread Man stationed outside both houses. Upload your selfies with him to for a chance to win a $50 Ameristar or River City restaurant gift certificate.
Although the insides of both houses are completely edible, Collins asks patrons to “please don’t … Santa is watching, you know!”

The Center for Hearing & Speech is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that last year donated $1.75 million in audiology, speech therapy and school screening services to residents of the metropolitan St. Louis area and surrounding communities. 

It is a proud member of the United Way, and a 2014 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s TORCH award. The awards are given to businesses and charities that “demonstrate a commitment to customer service through exceptional standards for ethical business practices.”
For more information, please call the Center at 314-968-4170 or check it out on the web at

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

United Way of St. Louis Sets New Donation Record

The 2014 United Way Campaign raised a record $73,000,075, according to an announcement that appeared on the agency’s Facebook page November 11.
The money raised this year surpassed last year’s total by about $746,000, said Ashley Gammon, Director of Communications for the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
Through the generous donations of their employees, companies including Edward Jones; Monsanto; Enterprise Holdings, Inc.; Anheuser Busch Inc.; Emerson; Ameren; Wells Fargo; BJC Healthcare; Centene Corporation; Boeing; MasterCard; Nestle Purina Pet Care Company; Schnucks Markets Inc.; and World Wide Technology Inc. each raised between $1 million to $5 million, Gammon said.
“For all of you who invest in the potential of others – thank you,” said Orvin Kimbrough, President & CEO for United Way of Greater St. Louis in his blog post. “Like you I want great things for our region.  In the spirit that this region rallies to mobilize resources every year through United Way for this community, I believe we can rally and over time put in place the conditions that will change the trajectory of a generation of young people.”   
According to its website, the United Way serves more than three million individuals in the St. Louis metropolitan area. More than 170 non-profits receive monies from the annual campaign.   
The Center for Hearing & Speech received $388,951 from United Way last year, said development director Jeff Tarr. “The Center has been supported by the United Way of Greater St. Louis since 1947. Today, we are still a proud member and the support we receive from the United Way allows the Center to help thousands of St. Louisans of all ages in need every year. We are extremely thankful for this vital assistance that allows the Center to fulfill its mission!”
Founded in 1920, the Center is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that last year provided approximately $1.75 million in audiology, speech therapy and school screening services to residents in the greater metropolitan St. Louis area and surrounding communities. Since its inception, its goal is to provide quality of life to children and adults with hearing and speech deficits, regardless of one’s ability to pay.
For more information please call 314-968-4170 or check it out on the web at    

Friday, November 21, 2014

Resolve To Give Back; Join Center's Young Friends Group

Shaun Nordgaarden, left, and his family enjoy an ice skating
event with the Center's Young Friend's group. 
Procrastinators take note: you have less than 50 days to buy and wrap those Christmas presents, make cookies and figure out those New Year’s resolutions.

If you’re a young professional looking for some inspiration, Shaun Nordgaarden’s story may convince you giving something back to the community is just as healthy as joining a gym.
Nordgaarden, an MBA candidate at Washington University’s Olin School of Business, joined the Center’s board of directors in 2012 through the school’s Board Fellow Program.

His life has been personally touched by hearing loss. His son Chase was born with Waardenburg’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes early onset hearing loss. He’s completely deaf in one ear.
As part of an effort to increase community awareness of the Center, Nordaargen and four members of his MBA project team created the Young Friends Group in summer 2013. They’ve never looked back.  
He’s inviting young professionals throughout the metropolitan St. Louis region to join up in support of a good cause.

“I would encourage other young professionals to join an organization like the Center because of the joy that you can receive from giving back to your community,” he said.

His friends have accompanied him to group events and have had a great time. “The connections and friendships that you create help you grow your personal skills and network.”

Events in which the group participates vary from formal meetings to wine & canvas painting, volunteering for the Moonlight Ramble, pub nights and ice skating. 

The Center’s Young Friend’s Group is hosting a Christmas party Tuesday, December 2, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Hearing & Speech, located at 9835 Manchester Road. There’s no charge to attend. Just RSVP to Martha Coleman, the Center’s communications and volunteer manager, at 314-968-4710 or  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Azra Ahmad Joins The Center for Hearing & Speech's Cause

Azra Ahmad has joined the board of directors at the Center for Hearing & Speech.

"Azra's speech pathology education and experience is a perfect fit for the Center and fills a void in our Board matrix,” said the Center’s Executive Director Rita Tintera. “She works directly, as an attorney, with the communities that the Center has as our target populations; the lower income less advantaged.”

In addition to having earned a master’s degree in speech/language pathology from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, Ahmad has personal experience with communications disorders.
“My son stuttered when he was young and with intensive speech therapy he speaks fluently now,” she said. “I recognize the importance of early intervention and appreciate how vital communication is for the basic human interaction.”

Ahmad earned a law degree from St. Louis University School of Law. She is an attorney with Mid-America Law Practice LLC.  She is licensed to practice in Missouri and Illinois and is a member of the Missouri Bar Association. She helped create the South Asian Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and Wealth Counsel.

In addition to working in a busy practice, she provides legal consults to members of a local civil rights group and has been involved with the Missouri Bar’s Read Across America program.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Center for Hearing & Speech Gives Kids an Extra Reason to Smile in October

Dr. Rebecca Frazier, front row, gathers with area audiologists,
audiology students and a client at the October Give Kids A Smile
biannual dental health fair at St. Louis University.

Give Kids A Smile (GKAS), a non-profit organization that organizes biannual dental health fairs for area children who live at or below the *federal poverty level, sponsored a clinic at St. Louis University (SLU) in late October.

The Center for Hearing & Speech pitched in to give the kids and their families an extra reason to smile. 

In addition to full-service dental care, children were able to receive audiology services to detect hearing disorders.

Dr. Rebecca Frazier, Au.D., CCC-A, chief audiologist at the Center for Hearing & Speech, along with a team of area audiologists screened 186 children during the two-day event, said Joan Allen, GKAS Executive Director. 
Dr. Frazier has been providing audiology services at GKAS clinics since 2008.

“I choose to go to the GKAS clinics because it is always so wonderful to help young people,” Dr. Frazier said.  "I have a soft spot for the kids who don’t have access to our services on a regular basis.  It just feels good to help,” she said.

Dr. Frazier serves as volunteer director of the audiology clinic. Her job is to round up area audiologists and audiology students, plus their equipment, to help out at the two-day event.“We have some of the most amazing audiologists in town who give of their time and talent to serve these wonderful young people,” she said.

The total value of audiology services Dr. Frazier and her team donated to GKAS was $71,000, Allen said. “We are sincerely thankful for their skills and generosity.”

The next GKAS clinic takes place Friday, February 20 and Saturday, February 21, 2015 at SLU. The appointment lines open on December 1. Please call GKAS at 636-397-6453 for more information.

The Center for Hearing & Speech is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that last year provided $1.75 million in audiology, school screening and speech/language therapy services to residents of metropolitan St. Louis and surrounding areas.
It is a proud member of the United Way.

For more information about the Center, please call 314-968-4710 or check it out on the web at

*The 2013 federal poverty level for a family of four is $23,550, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Greater St. Louis Health Foundation Awards $10,550 for Center's Audiology Program

The Greater St. Louis Health Foundation has awarded $10,550 to the audiology program of the Center for Hearing & Speech.

The grant will help fund the project, “Audiology for Low and Middle-Income Adults.”   It will be used to provide hearing assessments, treatment and follow up care for hearing loss to 10 low- and middle- income adults ages 21 and older who would otherwise not be able to pay for the services.

The Center’s new partnership in north St. Louis City at the Grace Hill Murphy O’Fallon Health Center will play a role in this program, allowing the Center to continue offering audiology services to a community in need.

“Left untreated, hearing loss can get worse, become a source of frustration or misunderstanding, severely limit social interactions, cause depression and even challenge long-term independence,” said the Center’s Executive Director Rita Tintera. “People with hearing loss are also more likely to be victims of crime.”

Lack of transportation and costs for services may prevent low- to middle-income individuals from seeking care for a hearing impairment.

The average hearing aid costs about $1,400, said Dr. Rebecca Frazier, Au.D., CCC-A, Chief Audiologist at the Center.  Fitting both ears costs around $2,800 and can run as much as $5,600.

Although some people can afford to private pay for hearing aids, many can’t, Dr. Frazier said. “We exist to help people who can’t afford these prices.  We offer our services at a price that’s more in line with what they can pay.”

The project will also track and measure how better hearing improves the quality of life, prevents or improves communications disabilities and helps improve any social isolation that  participants may have experienced.

Last year, the Center served 1,571 audiology clients, 61 percent of whom received financial scholarships.  The Center also provided 613 hearing aids to clients, 86 percent of whom received a financial scholarship.

Founded in 1920, the Center for Hearing & Speech provided approximately $1.75 million in audiology, speech and school screening services to residents of metropolitan St. Louis and surrounding communities in 2013.

It’s a proud member of the United Way.

The Center can be reached at 314-968-4710 or find it on the web at

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gabriel E. Wilson joins Board of Directors at the Center for Hearing & Speech

Gabriel E. Wilson has joined the board of directors for the Center for Hearing & Speech.
“We are thrilled to have Gabe lend his expertise to benefit the Center. He not only brings a unique set of professional skills, but he has a personal passionate connection to our mission,” said Rita Tintera, Executive Director.

Wilson’s personal passionate connection to the Center is very much a part of who he is. His youngest brother Seth is unable to speak. “I’ve struggled with hearing my whole life and just recently got hearing aids,” he said.

Since 2004, Wilson has worked at Edward Jones. He began his career reengaging with inactive clients, and spent two years as a business development officer in the Edward Jones Trust Company. In this role, he helped financial advisors and their clients understand the Trust Company and how it could benefit them in estate/legacy planning.

During his 10-year career he has managed multi-million dollar client accounts and currently serves as Senior Case Manager in the Client Consultation Group. 

A native of Jefferson City, Wilson attended Southeast Missouri State University from 1997 to 1998. During this time he earned the John Wiseman Academic Scholarship Award, played Division I-AA football, was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity and was a member of the National Dean’s List.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2002 from the University of Missouri- Columbia.

Wilson’s wife, Michelle, is an occupational therapist in a skilled nursing facility.  “I’m incredibly proud of the work she does and the difference she makes,” he says.

The couple has a two-year-old daughter, Emma, and is expecting their second child, a boy, on Christmas Eve.

Wilson enjoys spending time with Emma and walking Molly, his yellow Lab. “Before those two arrived I used to play golf,” he quipped.