May 22, 2017

Strengthening Ties Through Comcast Cares Day

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Every year, tens of thousands of people around the world volunteer in their communities on Comcast Cares Day. This year meant more to me than any other because so many of my colleagues and their friends and families came out to make a difference at the Clarke School for Hearing and Speech in Philadelphia, which teaches children who are deaf or hard of hearing to learn spoken language skills.

When I was 2 years old, my parents discovered I had significant hearing loss. It was a struggle for them emotionally, of course, but also because finding help and resources was so much harder than it is today. They took a leap and decided to move forward with developing my auditory verbal abilities. As a result, through hearing aid technology, therapy and training on listening and talking, there have been no limits on what I can do. In fact, most people I meet don’t know I wear hearing aids in both ears – and I’m forever grateful to my parents for building the path that got me here.

Despite my parents’ advocacy and support, though, when I was a little girl I never had the community of peers like you will find at Clarke School. It’s a place where dedicated teachers and eager students and their families are all working together to help kids live their fullest lives. Two years ago, I first became involved with Clarke, and this year I am honored to be part of a small group at the school dedicated to shaping its future. I love coming to the school and seeing the kids interact with their teachers and each other. It’s amazing! I know the children don't understand how important these years are at Clarke. They have a support system around them that's really making them believe in themselves and that's so important.

One of the things I have been most proud of is connecting Comcast to the Clarke School and effectively helping to increase awareness of Clarke’s existence for families who it could help. I am part of an employee resource group at Comcast that is dedicated to helping people with disabilities. We have read to the children there and, separately, did a cookie decorating project during the holidays last year. We were there again a few weeks ago on Comcast Cares Day. About 150 volunteers in all, we helped clean up the playground and organize the library, and also worked on learning-skills projects, such as creating "auditory story boxes" for the classrooms and puppets for them to take home so they can practice their verbal skills.

Comcast Cares Day gave us the opportunity to build on our relationship with the Clarke School, and I hope volunteers left the day as advocates for the school. After all, one of them may know or meet someone with a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, introduce them to the school – and change a child’s life in an incredibly profound way.

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