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January 6, 2003

Chorus supports speech, hearing center

From: Kingsport Times News, TN - 06 Jan 2003

By Jessica Fischer

Mountain Region Speech and Hearing started off the new year on a positive note thanks to a gift from the Appalachian Express Barbershop Chorus.

Chorus member Paul Von Bramer gave Jay Tusten, Mountain Region's new executive director, a check for $850 during a presentation last week at the center.

"If not for the public's support we would have a difficult time, so this is very important to us," said Jay, who replaced retiring executive director Diane Maleski three months ago.

Paul said the chorus, which boasts some 40 members from throughout the Tri-Cities, has adopted hearing and speech impairment as its service project and contributes annually to Mountain Region.

"Our motto is ‘We sing that they shall speak,'" he said. "For the last two or three years, maybe longer, we've taken a portion of our earnings from our annual show, and we take up a collection at our practice every week and a portion of that comes here, so that's where we got the check."

During the past 30 years, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, of which Appalachian Express is a member, has raised more than $12 million for Heartspring, a life-skills learning center in Wichita, Kan., that treats speech disabilities in children and adults.

Jay said Mountain Region will most likely designate the money from Appalachian Express for scholarships to its Early Start Child Hearing Services program, which provides complete audiological testing, selection and fitting of appropriate amplification devices. and individual and group therapy to infants and preschoolers who are deaf or significantly impaired.

Created in 1999, Early Start was designed to mirror a program already in place at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville that helped preschool children with hearing loss establish an effective communication system and enter school prepared to listen and learn.

Before Mountain Region began Early Start, parents of hearing impaired children had to relocate to Knoxville, Roanoke or beyond to accommodate the six to nine hours of therapy required weekly.

For more information about Mountain Region Speech and Hearing, call 246-4600. To find out more about the Appalachian Express Barbershop Chorus, call Paul at 246-9093.

Copyright 2002 Kingsport Times-News. All rights reserved.