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Local Family Supports Starkey Hearing Foundations Hear Now Program

Eden Prairie brother and sister start Hear Now Leaders initiative

Eden Prairie, Minn. May 11,
2005 Andrew Lee, a 17-year-old junior at Eden Prairie High School, and his sister Meg, a 12-year-old seventh grader at Eden Prairies Central Middle School, have started a web site designed to help kids nationwide get involved in a community service project. But not just any community service project. The web site, www.HearNowLeaders.com, provides step-by-step instructions on how to support the Starkey Hearing Foundations Hear Now program.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation is an Eden Prairie-based nonprofit dedicated to helping the world to hear. Through its Hear Now program, the Foundation provides hearing aids to low-income children and adults throughout the United States. The program accepts donations of used hearing aids, and proceeds from the sale of those devices are used to purchase new hearing aids that are then distributed through the Hear Now program. Since 2000, more than 100,000 hearing aids have been recycled to support the Hear Now program.

The Lee children learned of the Hear Now program and decided to offer their support. But instead of simply approaching local hearing providers like audiologists and hearing aid dispensers and asking them to start collecting used hearing aids, the teens decided to encourage kids all over the country to get involved. Through their web site, Andrew and Meg hope student volunteers nationwide will start a Hear Now Leaders program in their community.

It started as a class project for a web design class of mine, explained Andrew. At the time of the assignment, I wanted to get involved in a community service project. I had heard about the Starkey Hearing Foundation and the Hear Now program, and I decided to use my class assignment as a way to support the them.

The result is a HearNowLeaders.com, a web site that provides step-by-step instructions for student volunteers who want to build their leadership skills through community service. Specifically, kids are instructed on how to bring the Hear Now program to hearing providers in their community asking providers to participate in the program by distributing program applications and collecting used hearing aids.

We just launched the site, and were just now letting community service coordinators, churches and schools know about it so they can help us get the word out to kids who might want to participate, said Meg. A lot of schools require students to complete a community service project before graduation. HearNowLeaders.com gives them everything they need for that.

To ensure that the process of starting a Hear Now program is as easy as possible, Andrew and Meg will work online with kids who sign on. And while student volunteers can spend as little as one week implementing their local Hear Now program, Andrew and Meg consider this a long-term commitment.

We think this can grow over several years as student volunteers recruit others around the country, said Andrew. We hope to build a real community that helps more low-income people get free hearing aids from Hear Now.

About the Starkey Hearing Foundation

Since 1973, the Starkey Hearing Foundation has been giving the gift of hearing to the worlds underprivileged, especially children, through its internationally recognized mission program, Hearing Angels, and its domestic program, Hear Now. Since 2000, the Foundation has provided more than 115,000 hearing aids to those in need around the world. Visit www.sotheworldmayhear.org to learn more.

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