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

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Barbara Cude dreams about giving public speeches — or at least she did once.

“I had a dream about giving a particular speech,” she said. “I thought how am I going to do that? I started investigating Toastmasters clubs, but it’s frightening… It was in the back of my mind, but it was going to be like pulling teeth to get me in the door.”

Cude said she attended an open house for In-Ahwatukee Toastmasters and tried to come up with all the excuses she could not to join, but just over a year ago she finally decided to give it a try.

After her first speech the president of the club told her she was a natural inspirational speaker and she would do great at the international speech contest.

“He said that week after week,” Cude said. “He never failed to tell me he wanted me to enter this international speech contest. The contest was so far down the road, but every time he said it there was something that sparked on the inside of me and brought me back to that dream that I had of the speech I was giving before I even found Toastmasters.”

In March Cude competed in the Toastmasters district competition, giving a very emotional seven-minute speech about her son’s battle with leukemia, which he ultimately conquered with help from God, Cude said. She placed first and went on to compete in the regional competition, where she placed second. She will now be an alternate for the state competition in May.

“I feel like I did what was in my heart,” Cude said. “It took two years to get what I dreamt about out of me… I didn’t bring home the big trophy, but I know I did my personal best.”

Cude plans to compete again in the future, but she said she may write a speech about her daughter next time.

Cude was not the only one from In-Ahwatukee Toastmasters to compete. Ahwatukee Foothills resident Larry Chavez competed in the table topics contest, an impromptu two-minute speech on an unknown topic. Chavez placed second in the district competition so he did not move on to the regional competition.

“I joined Toastmasters because I felt I needed to gain some confidence in my public speaking,” he said. “I think Toastmasters gives us the ability to not only communicate more clearly but it’s also a confidence builder. It can help with job interviews and helps us clarify our thinking and processing skills when we communicate with other people. I think in this day and age of multiple forms of communication it’s even more important for us to become better public speakers.”

In-Ahwatukee Toastmasters meets every Tuesday from 7 to 8 a.m. at Mountain Park Community Church, 2408 E. Pecos Road. For more information, visit

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