Join us in congratulating Kathleen M. on winning the 2017 Hear-O of the Year award, honoring her contributions to Cochlear's community outreach and engagement efforts throughout the calendar year. According to Kathleen, "I cannot express how honored and humbled I am to receive this recognition...I feel privileged to be a small part of someone's hearing journey from the beginning to where they currently are. It is truly inspiring each and every time."


Not a day goes by we don’t recognize how fortunate we are to have such an amazing group of volunteers who so selflessly dedicate themselves to helping people along their hearing journey. Every day our volunteers inspire, motivate, guide and empower others for one simple reason: to make a difference. Our 2017 “Hear-O of the Year” embodies this dedication.

As a small token of our immense gratitude, we annually recognize a “Hear-O of the Year,” which is an award honoring a volunteer or volunteer family that contributes to Cochlear’s local and/or national community outreach and engagement efforts throughout the calendar year. This is always a very difficult decision as we have countless volunteers throughout the country who meet these criteria and contribute significantly to the overall support and success of our volunteer program.

For the 2017 calendar year, we are pleased to announce our winner as Kathleen M. from Albuquerque, NM.

Over the past 6 years, Kathleen has been a key figure in supporting Cochlear’s efforts in the Southwest territory.

According to the Cochlear employees whom she supports, “Kathleen has been an exemplary volunteer. Her passion for helping others and our team shines through every time she participates in an activity. Kathleen will drive long distances to meet with candidates and recipients, attends and helps at every chapter meeting, has come to professional workshops and will attend just about any Cochlear event she can (regardless of the distance). Our favorite things about her are her selfless nature, her calming presence, and the relationships she builds with candidates and recipients. She becomes friends with just about everyone we connect her with.”

Kathleen is a leader in the community; she is a trainer for assistive technology with HLAA, she is on the board for Albuquerque Speech Language and Hearing Center, and has now accepted the task of fundraising and planning their yearly gala. She is also an administrator for Cochlear Town USA and our Cochlear Volunteer Facebook page. With all of this on her plate, she still makes volunteering her top priority and never misses out on an opportunity to serve those around her.

“For these reasons and so many more, our team values Kathleen as a volunteer, friend and Cochlear Family member. She is our volunteer pride and joy!”

Q&A with Kathleen:

In hopes of inspiring others, we asked Kathleen what winning the 2017 Hear-O of Year award has meant to her, why volunteering is an important part of her life and what messages she hopes to convey in doing so:

What does winning the 2017 Hear-O of the Year award mean to you?

“I cannot express how honored and humbled I am to receive this recognition. This award represents everyone who has been a part of my journey—my family, friends, Cochlear Community and the Southwest Cochlear Team. In winning this, I have realized that my involvement in volunteering has been more far reaching than I could have imagined! It is obvious now that my encouragement to others has impacted so many, whether one is at the start of their hearing journey, a recipient, a loved one of a recipient or one who is a supporter.”

What’s the best part about volunteering for Cochlear?

“The best part of volunteering is the connections made with each person. I truly feel privileged to be a small part of someone’s hearing journey from the beginning to where they currently are.   Volunteering allows me to provide hope and facts, and to contribute to an individual’s hearing journey in all stages, including advocacy and technology support. My exhilaration from volunteering derives from witnessing their realization of hope, followed by their first hearing moments, which are always sprinkled with amazement, tears of joy and happiness! This is truly inspiring each and every time.”

Is there one thing you try to convey or message that you share (from personal experience of being a recipient) with everyone you meet inquiring about a cochlear implant?

“I start with my guideline called “HOPE,” Hearing Other People’s Experiences. This allows me to listen to their story, their hopes and reasons for inquiring about a cochlear implant. My message is based on my personal experience and my knowledge that cochlear implants DO benefit! I like to start with the basics of: What a cochlear implant is, the process of getting a cochlear implant, realistic expectations and the fact that there is always support from Cochlear every step of the way.  My final message is, ‘What are you waiting for?!’”

We know you are a proud, loving, wife and mother, and that your volunteer efforts reach beyond Cochlear’s Volunteer Program. What does your family think about your involvement in the community supporting organizations and causes you believe in?   

“I asked my family this question, and this is what they shared:

My oldest (age 20) stated, ‘I am proud of her because she always helps people with hearing loss, and she looks for ways to help others without getting anything in return besides the personal satisfaction of helping those around her.’

My middle son (age 16) said, ‘I am honestly very proud of my mom for all the work she has put in with Cochlear and organizations in our community. With that, and everything she does for us at home, she is one of the most hardworking people I know. I am very glad she got involved with Cochlear, because I think it changed her life for the better. She has taught me that volunteering is important and is enjoyable and exciting.’

My youngest (age 10) shares, ‘I think it is nice that my mom cares about it, and helping other people makes me feel comfortable that she is there for many.”

My husband contributes with, ‘For 35 years, Kathleen has always been a passionate advocate for those with hearing loss, even before she was a social worker. This is her path. I am moved by her energy, professionalism and willingness to help others.’”

What advice would you give someone else who is interested in becoming more involved within their own community as a volunteer?    

“Start with knowing your passion and interests, and look within your community to discover its needs. Choose something that excites you and motivates you to be a passionate volunteer. Passion is the foundation that creates a movement of change among individuals and the community. Take a step and volunteer!”

Congratulations, Kathleen! Thank you for who you are and all you’ve done to help others. The Cochlear Family would not be the same without you.

Interested in volunteering with Cochlear? Visit the Volunteer Hub located in your Cochlear Family account to learn more.

Are you a hearing implant candidate looking to connect with a mentor? Visit Cochlear Connections.

Cochlear Guest Writer
Cochlear Americas showcases the stories of real people celebrating life's real moments. This blog was written by a guest writer for Cochlear Americas.