In January 2021, I took a giant step out of the COVID-19 doldrums by joining the Redlands Toastmasters International Club 8950, which meets every Thursday via remote technology. The weekly enjoyable, entertaining and educational meetings were capped on Feb. 27 with a speech contest that included competitors from several Inland Empire Toastmasters clubs as well as a speaker from Toronto.

The speech of guest Toastmaster Hitesh Parmar, Toronto, titled “Every Second Counts,” was a timely tribute to the valor and dedication of all first responders, as well as to all community good Samaritans who go the extra mile to help people, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Parmar joked that when he first heard the term “Toastmasters” he thought it was a group of people who liked to toast each other with a drink. Parmar said Toastmasters has helped to improve his listening skills, which has been beneficial in his personal and business relationships.  

Community involvement is a goal of Toastmasters training. Parmar has assisted youth groups in his community to develop their communication talents. Redlands Toastmasters Club 8950 applauds its member Ruben Vasquez, who has worked with Redlands youth groups to prevent drug abuse for a healthier community.

Club 8950 speech contestants Heather Hill and Hilda Valenzuela-Wendtland received honorable mention as well as Hilda’s spouse Dennis, who timed the competitive speeches.

Toastmasters International (TMI) is a nonprofit organization that helps men and women develop communication and leadership skills. Anyone interested in Redlands TMI-8950 may call Sunita Jain at (909) 435-5887.

Joan Marie Patsky, Beaumont