Getting in the ‘loop’

The past several decades have seen profound advancements in audio technology.

“It used to be that, if you saw someone with a wire coming out of their ear, you knew they were wearing a hearing aid,” said Tim Hazel, of Fort Dodge. “Now, if you see a person with a wire in their ear, you know they will be wearing a hearing aid one day.”

This joke – though he’s not sure where he heard it first – is one of Hazel’s icebreakers while speaking as president of the Sertoma Inc.

Since its establishment in 1975, the Sertoma Sundowners club has worked to further the mission of Sertoma: to improve the quality of life today for those at risk or impacted by hearing loss through education and support.

“Both of my grandparents had hearing problems,” said Hazel, a native of Dunkerton.

That, coupled with a desire to “give back” to his community, was part of what led Hazel to become one of the Sertoma Sundowners’ charter members 38 years ago.

At the time, Hazel was a recent transplant to Fort Dodge.

After a three-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, Hazel, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, left active duty in 1972. He had hoped to pursue a teaching career, but with a glut of prospective educators graduating college at the time, positions were hard to come by, Hazel said.

“My brother George had the Pella Window distributorship in Fort Dodge, and he invited me to come help him out,” Hazel said.

This turned into a long-term career path.

“Whether he liked it or not, I just stayed,” said Hazel, with a laugh.

In 2010, Hazel retired as a territory sales manager for Pella.

In retirement, he sought out new opportunities to serve.

The Hazels live north of Fort Dodge – a short walk from John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

During a Sertoma meeting, Hazel said, Matt Cosgrove, director of Webster County Conservation, gave a presentation in which he discussed the Friends of Webster County Conservation, a volunteer group which seeks to provide awareness, appreciation, and the preservation of Webster County’s natural resources for future generations.

“I walk my dog in the park every day,” he said. “I think I use the park as much as anyone in the county, so I thought it was time to give back a little.”

As a member of the group, Hazel volunteers his time to help maintain not only Kennedy Park, but the other natural areas overseen by Webster County Conservation: everything from pulling weeds to painting picnic tables.

Though work is winding down for the year, Hazel will remain busy as Sertoma president until June 30.

Among the club’s larger projects this year is an effort to install a “looping” system at Hawkeye Community Theatre in Fort Dodge.

A hearing loop system works in conjunction with an existing speaker system to transmit sound directly to hearing aids, filtering out background noise and providing a clearer sound for people who are hard of hearing.

Such systems have become increasingly popular in public spaces, particularly airports, according to Hazel.

By making it easier for those who wear hearing aids to enjoy Hawkeye performances, the looping project will help fulfill Sertoma’s mission by enhancing quality of life, he said.

Hazel said the club hopes to raise $10,000 for the project.

One means of fundraising – a Celebrate Sound walk – will be held Nov. 24 beginning at noon at Crossroads Mall in Fort Dodge.