News

Port Moody hospital foundation, dentist give the gift of hearing

Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation
Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation's Charlene Giovannetti-King shows a poster for a fundraising campaign for Hearing for Kids, which buys hearing aids for children from low-income families living in the Fraser Health Region.
— image credit: DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Many parents of young children are relieved to get a few minutes of silence when their talkative toddlers turn quiet.

But for one local mom, her son’s silence was a worry.

Jesse, whose last name was withheld to protect her son’s privacy, was concerned when her three-year-old wouldn’t speak or show any interest in what she was saying.

Granted, the conditions weren’t ideal. The Burnaby mom was trying to communicate with her youngster via Skype because he was living in the Philippines with her mother while she was studying to be a licensed practical nurse here.

“It’s so frustrating, you’re not there,” said Mary, who thought her distant son was simply ignoring her.

Speech therapy helped but it wasn’t until her little boy had a hearing test at a Fraser Health clinic upon returning home last fall that the true source of the problem was revealed. Her son, now four, was found to have mild hearing loss. Jesse was shocked at the news but it also made sense.

“When we heard about that, I cried. I didn’t know what to expect. I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to ask.”

PUBLIC HEALTH REFERRAL

But thanks to a referral from public health nurses, the problem turned out to be relatively easy to fix. In January, Jesse’s son was given a custom hearing aid with funds raised by the Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation.

The foundation’s Hearing for Kids campaign, which has so far raised $50,000 towards a $150,000 endowment to provide hearing aids for children of low-income families living in the Fraser Health region, was able to provide the little boy with a $2,100 hearing aid. It replaced a loaner model he got in October that wasn’t tuned for his needs and would have had to have been returned.

Jesse, who works full- and part-time jobs, and her husband, a Telus employee, are already having a tough time paying off student loans and other expenses, and wouldn’t have been able to afford the device.

Jesse’s son isn’t the only child to benefit. Seven other children living the Fraser Health region, including Tri-Cities, have received a hearing aid through the Hearing for Kids campaign, said ERHF executive director Charlene Giovannetti-King, and more will get them in the future.

Giovannetti-King credited Worksafe BC, whose employees contributed $40,000, and Port Moody’s Inspire Dental, which raised $9,000 last year, for getting the campaign into gear.

“They understand. They are building capacity with kids,” she said.

But ERHF needs more donors to help make the program sustainable.

For Jesse’s family, Hearing for Kids has been a blessing.

Her son can hear and speak English well in addition to Tagalog and the family’s Ilonggo dialect. The kindergarten student is also a successful reader who loves to read aloud to his family.

“I’m so happy that somebody is able to help us,” his mom said.

TO HELP

To find out how to contribute to the Hearing for Kids campaign, visit www.erhf.ca/how-to-give/hearing-for-kids.

 

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

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