In-Ahwatukee Toastmasters celebrated 25 years

In-Ahwatukee Toastmasters celebrated 25 years in Ahwatukee on Tuesday with a meeting full of speeches and encouragement from former members who say Toastmasters taught them confidence, communicating and listening.

Allison Hurtado/AFN

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In-Ahwatukee Toastmasters celebrated 25 years in Ahwatukee on Tuesday with a meeting full of speeches and encouragement from former members who say Toastmasters taught them confidence, communicating and listening.

“It made a difference in my life and it still does today,” said Elvire Smith, a former In-Ahwatukee Toastmasters member. “I listen to the way I talk as often as I can and I enjoy listening to other people. Sometimes I hear some stumbling and I tell them to go join Toastmasters. There is no shame. These are people who truly love helping.”

Smith told the group she joined Toastmasters around 2008 because she had always been a “talker,” but she lacked structure. She got structure from Toastmasters, but she also gained many friends.

“I’ve never been to another Toastmasters group, but this group really embraced me,” Smith said. “It’s made a difference in my life. I love the fun we had together… This is the place to express yourself.”

Smith was one of many former members who were invited to speak to the group on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Mountain Park Community Church in Ahwatukee. Chad Chadderton, charter president, gave a brief history of Ahwatukee Toastmasters.

Chadderton was first introduced to Toastmasters in Tempe in the early ’80s. He decided to form his own group in Ahwatukee and they found a meeting place at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Over time they needed to find a new location and somehow ended up at Dobson Ranch.

Eventually, Ahwatukee Toastmasters became Dobson Ranch Toastmasters until 1987 when Chadderton brought Toastmasters back to a location in Ahwatukee and named it In-Ahwatukee Toastmasters.

“When I was trying to recruit people I told them it’s not about public speaking, it’s about communicating,” said Chadderton, who is owner of Ahwatukee Realty. “In sales people don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.”

Toastmasters is a group that meets once a week to practice public speaking and get constructive criticism from others. Each meeting is very structured with a few members giving prepared speeches and others being asked to answer impromptu questions.

Other members at the meeting keep track of grammatical errors and any pauses, “ums” or “uhs” throughout the speeches. Those who spoke to current members at the meeting bore testimony of what a difference it can make.

“I know some of the old faces some of us were hoping to see here today, who are not here because they are a product of their own success,” said Martin Gibson. “It’s amazing the way I can directly trace some of my own successes and adventures to things that happened in Toastmasters. A lot of folks are not here because, in the words of Dr. Seuss, ‘Oh the places you'll go.’ They have gone on and they have soared, but we all came in the same way. Our knees were knocking. We were gripping the podium. It is just amazing what Toastmasters can help you find in yourself that you may not realize existed in there.”

For more information on Toastmasters, and to join the Ahwatukee group, visit ahwatukeetoastmasters.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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