Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
When it comes to philanthropy, America is a generous country. According to Charity Navigator, total giving to charitable organizations in 2014 totaled more than $358 billion — which is almost 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Not surprisingly, 31 percent of all giving took place in December, with 12 percent occurring in the final three days of the year (Can you say “tax deductions?”).
If you’re one of the 69 percent of Americans who donate to charity and are looking for a worthwhile cause this holiday season, consider giving to a hearing health foundation or charity. Your donation can help fund research projects, provide education and help those who can’t afford hearing devices or a service animal receive the help they need to maintain their personal health and safety.
Hearing aids, which can cost as much as $6,800 per pair, are not covered by Medicare or most private insurance policies. As a result, even though hearing loss can lead to social isolation, dementia, balance disorders and communication difficulties with friends, colleagues and loved ones, the cost of hearing devices is one of the major reasons individuals wait seven to 10 years before seeking treatment — if they seek it at all.
So, whether you give to a national foundation which supports programs nationwide, or stay local and invest in charities which help individuals in your own home town, consider donating to a hearing healthcare organizations this year. Not sure where to start, Santa? Here are a few suggestions …
National Foundations and Charities
When you give to HCOA, you support a variety of national programs which focus on hearing loss prevention, assistance for low income individuals, fundraising and awareness such as:
- The Hearing Aid Project. Uses collaborative partnerships to generate resources necessary to put hearing assistive devices into the hands of low income individuals.
- CELEBRATE SOUND. A national fundraising and awareness campaign which helps individuals and organizations promote hearing health in their communities
- SAFEEars! Educational programming for kids in third through sixth grade and sixth through eighth grade designed to help develop an awareness of hearing and hearing loss.
- A Sound Investment. Improves public facilities for those that use hearing assistive devices
- This foundation also provides scholarships for deaf or hard of hearing students and those accepted into hearing-focused careers.
HHF is the largest private funder of hearing research with a mission to prevent and cure hearing loss and tinnitus through research. They also promote hearing health. Since their beginnings in 1958, HHF has donated millions of dollars to hearing and balance research. Each year, HHF awards Emerging Research Grants to investigators who are exploring innovative, new avenues in hearing and balance science. These funds support research in the following areas:
- Fundamental Auditory Research: development, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, anatomy and regeneration biology
- Hearing and Balance Restoration: cochlear implants, sensory hair cell regeneration and auditory nerve regeneration
- Hearing Loss: age-related, noise-induced, drug-induced, otosclerosis and otitis media
- Central Auditory Processing Disorders
- Congenital Deafness: Usher syndrome, Connexin 26
- Vestibular and Balance Disorders: dizziness and vertigo, Meniere’s disease
Supporters can make a one-time gift or schedule monthly donations on the website, set up personal online fundraising pages, make gifts of appreciated stock or include HHF in estate planning.
American Society for Deaf Children
The ASDC is a source of information for the parents, providers, educators, legislators and advocates who make decisions about deaf children. The organization was founded in 1967 as a parent-helping-parent organization and is governed by a board of directors which include parents and professionals.
The ASDC depends solely on donations, membership and proceeds from conferences to publish their Endeavor magazine, attend national conferences, and provide support and advocacy to families of deaf and hard of hearing children. Individuals wishing to contribute can become a member. Dues range from a one-year individual or family membership for $40 to a $5,000 lifetime membership. Additional tax deductible contributions are also accepted.
This organization professionally trains dogs to help individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Hearing dogs alert their owners to household sounds by making physical contact and leading them to the source of the sound. The dogs are trained to respond to seven sounds: fire and smoke alarms, the telephone, oven timer, alarm clock, doorbell/door knock, name call and, sometimes, a baby’s cry. In public, the dogs provide an increased awareness of the environment. Applicants pay a $500 good faith deposit which is returned after the person and the Hearing Dog have been together for one year. Dogs for the Deaf staff provides one-on-one training with the client and all family members upon placement, as well as follow up training for the life of the team.
Supporters can donate online, through planned giving, by purchasing gifts from the DFD Store and shopping on Amazon, and by helping raise donations for the Doggie Wish List.
If you’d rather keep your money in your own community, there are several different ways you can improve hearing health with a donation.
Check with your local Lions Club to see if they participate in the organization’s Hearing Preservation, Awareness and Action Program, which is designed to “demonstrate concern and respect for the dignity and independence of people who have hearing or speech disorders, with the goal of improving their quality of life.” Aspects of this program include:
- Hearing Screenings to help identify those with hearing loss
- Hearing Aid Recycling Program (HARP), which allows Lions to provide affordable hearing aids for those who cannot afford them
To find a participating Lions Club in your community, click here.
If you don’t have Lions Clubs in your community or they don’t participate in the Hearing Preservation Awareness and Action Program, contact your local United Way Agency. They may be aware of other local organizations, such as Kiwanis or Optimist Club, which operate foundations for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Hearing Healthcare providers
Often, local hearing healthcare clinics administrate private hearing assistance programs and foundations to help their patients afford the costs of hearing devices. Some accept donations of used hearing instruments as well as monetary donations. To find which hearing healthcare providers in your community offer similar programs, check their individual websites or contact your local United Way Agency.
Whether you have a friend or loved one who is deaf or hard of hearing or have been impacted personally with hearing loss, it’s comforting to know we are all working together to education and provide for those who may need our help. However charitable you decide to be this holiday season, we wish you Healthy Hearing.