Pictured, left to right, are Vivian and Bill Smith with Carrie Crowe and her son, Jacob Lewis
The Speech & Hearing Center is celebrating 70 years of service, dedication and impact on the lives of those in the Chattanooga area who are affected by a speech or hearing impairment. Since its founding in 1953, the organization has been committed to "enhancing and sustaining quality of life through better communication."
Officials said, "Over the years, The Speech & Hearing Center has evolved to meet the changing needs of the community. Known for its dual focus on early intervention and keeping older adults healthy and connected, the Center has developed a wide range of programs and services.
Occupational therapy, physical therapy, newborn hearing screenings, community screenings, mobile industrial audiology and in-school speech therapy are some of the programs that have been added over the years.
"To mark this milestone anniversary, The Speech & Hearing Center is hosting a joy-filled 70th birthday party on April 27 at Chattanooga Whiskey Event Hall. This event will provide opportunities for community members to come together to celebrate, look to what lies ahead and lend their support to the only nonprofit in the area addressing communication disorders."
The organization was chartered on May 11, 1953. 10 years ago, on the 60th anniversary, May 11 was declared Speech & Hearing Center Day by Hamilton County, the City of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. Besides the birthday party, the Center will celebrate with a series of events and educational content throughout the month of May to coincide with the anniversary day and Better Hearing & Speech Month.
“We are excited to celebrate this important milestone with our community,” President/CEO Taylor Bostwick said. “We look forward to continuing to advance our mission and making an even greater impact in the years to come.”
70 years means more than 200,000 lives touched. One patient, Bill Smith, received speech services from first to sixth grades, from 1957 to 1963.
“On my first day of school, my first-grade teacher asked all of us to stand and say our names,” Bill recalled. “When it was my turn, I said BBBBBBBB, because I stuttered. I couldn’t say two words without stuttering. She told me to go stand in the hall until I could talk right.”
Every child needs an advocate. For Bill, his principal, Dr. Schmidt, was that person. Dr. Schmidt was responsible for Bill’s referral to The Speech & Hearing Center. Over the course of seven years, Bill had weekly appointments with his speech therapist, Mrs. Ellison. Bill, now in his 70s, no longer speaks with a stutter. He wants others to know that every child should have a chance to speak clearly.
“The Speech & Hearing Center gave me that ability, and it changed my life,” he said.
For 34 years, Bill has owned a local business, Foundry Pattern Service, Inc. He credits his success to his speech therapist and his father.
“Mrs. Ellison encouraged me to work hard, get over my stuttering and succeed. She helped me get over my fears of talking and build my confidence. She made me aware I had a problem that I could overcome – that my stuttering would go away. She made me understand that problems were building blocks. That knowledge affected me for the rest of my life. And my dad was the hero of my life. He took me to my initial evaluation at The Speech & Hearing Center.”
Bill’s story has come full circle, as now his daughter, Carrie Crowe, is continuing his commitment to the Center by serving on the Center’s board.