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March 19, 2003

Grange wants you to "listen up!"

From: Marshall Chronicle, MI - 19 Mar 2003

Think about your favorite sounds. These may include special music, children's laughter, birds singing, babbling brooks, or something completely different. Now imagine not being able to hear any of these ever again - inhabiting a world of silence. The Grange is working to keep this from happening; it is also working to improve life for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. For over three decades, the Grange has been a pioneer in educating people about hearing loss and hearing preservation. The National Grange produces high-quality, widely acclaimed educational materials on hearing awareness. These are distributed on a local level to schools, institutions, and others with interest. Among the more popular items in the packets of materials are posters of the Pledge of Allegiance and the alphabet in sign language. The Grange has also provided scholarships for people to learn how to become interpreters. Carrying the concept of access to communication further, the Grange has worked and continues to work with many institutions that serve the needs of deaf people.

Hearing awareness has no better friend than Beulah Winter, a lifelong Calhoun County resident and current Michigan State Grange Deaf Awareness Director. Winter was National Grange Deaf Activities Director for 14 years, from 1982 to 1996. In her more than two decades of involvement with the program, Winter has worked tirelessly, through education, understanding, and service, "to do the most good for the most people" (motto of Grange Deaf Activities). Through this time, Winter has developed a special relationship for the Grange with the Michigan School for the Deaf (MSD), an institution in Flint that educates 130 deaf students. It is Winter's efforts that brought the school into the computer age: the Grange purchased and updated the schools first computers and recently made it possible for them to buy four scanners.

One of Winter's most rewarding projects with students at the MSD has been the "Adopt-a-Child" Program. Granges throughout the state and even individual Grange members agree to sponsor a child. The sponsorship consists of supplying the student with Christmas gifts, a birthday remembrance, and additional communications throughout the year. This year Grange members are sponsoring thirty children. These are all from economically disadvantaged families. The Grange has been told that many of these children would have no Christmas gifts or celebration if it were not for the Grange. Calhoun County Grange members have answered the call of these children's great need, adopting five: the Calhoun County Pomona Grange is sponsoring one child; Fredonia Grange is sponsoring two; Home Grange and members of Home Grange are sponsoring one each. The annual Christmas party when Grange members deliver gifts to the students and share in an all-you-can-eat pizza party is one of the highlights of the season for all who attend. Although the Grange members are technically the givers, to a person, they feel that they receive far more then they bestow.

If you would like to learn more about hearing awareness or any of these specific programs, you have a number of options. You may contact Winter at (269) 781-2500 or You may also contact Athol Hazen, Secretary, Fredonia Community Grange, 9890 22 Mile Road, Marshall, MI 49068, (269) 781-5204,

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