Gift to fund hearing devices: Sertoma Club offers library $3,000 for technology upgrade

GREENFIELD – A $3,000 gift from a local service organization will help people with hearing impairments enjoy events at the local library.

The Greenfield Sertoma Club recently presented Hancock County Public Library with a check to fund a much-needed technology upgrade, officials said. The money will cover the cost of eight assisted-listening systems for those with hearing difficulties, replacing equipment that was outdated and in need of repair, library web manager Kyle Turpin said.

The library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, serves as a local community center; every year, the public is treated to dozens of free concerts, comedy acts, educational seminars and more. Most are conducted in the library’s community room, which seats nearly 200 people.

Library officials say they’re committed to making their events accessible to everyone, and they hope the new equipment will encourage those with hearing impairments — who might have shied away from programs — to join in the fun. The library had some hearing-assistance devices 12 years ago, when the main branch was built, but parts have gotten lost or broken through the years, Turpin said.

The new devices work with an FM transmitter to amplify sound into the user’s personal receiver. Listeners have the option to use ear bud-style headphones or devices called neck loops, which work with certain types of hearing aids, said Sertoma president-elect Dave Berard.

The library’s community room is already set up to transmit audio, so it won’t be a problem to incorporate the new technology, Turpin said.

Sertoma, whose name is short for “service to mankind” and which boasts about 20 members in its Greenfield chapter, annually provides about $20,000 in funds to a number of local efforts, Berard said; but nationally, one of the organization’s main platforms is to serve those impacted by hearing loss.

That work takes Sertoma members behind the scenes, providing hearing-testing equipment to schools and offsetting the cost of hearing aids for those in need.

Offering that same support to the library seemed like a natural partnership, said Kim Polizotto, a member of the local Sertoma club for the past 30 years.

“It’s just amazing … what they offer,” he said. “The library has some phenomenal programs, and we just want to make sure people with hearing problems can enjoy it as well as the people that don’t have hearing issues.”

Supporting those with hearing problems — which affects about 1 in every 5 people, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America — is a worthy cause, Polizotto said.

“It’s not life-threatening, and it’s not terribly debilitating, but it’s still an inconvenience.”

Library officials plan to put up signs advertising that the devices are available and free for the public to use.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.