Each year, Cochlear’s engagement team has the honor, albeit difficult task, of choosing volunteers from different communities throughout North America (including Canada) to be recognized as a Community Hear-O. For 2020, twenty-two volunteers were chosen as a Community Hear-O for their significant contributions to Cochlear’s community outreach and engagement efforts performed throughout the year.


2020 Hear-O of the Year

However, only one volunteer from our Community Hear-O winners will receive the annual Hear-O of the Year national award and this year that coveted title goes to volunteer Patricia “Pat” K. of Glen Allan, Virginia! Pat, like most of our previous winners was surprised with the award when the local Cochlear consumer team and local news media, showed up at her front door and announced the news that she was the 2020 Cochlear Hear-O of the Year winner. “It was such a lovely surprise! Presenting it this way probably helped with the surprise element. So much fun!  My local Cochlear Engagement Manager Martha-Schley is so wonderful to work with and so supportive of me and others with hearing loss”, replied Pat, when asked how it feels to be recognized in this way.

Hear-O of the year Pat K receives her award

Celebrating our Volunteers

April is National Volunteer Month and at Cochlear, we look forward every year to celebrating our volunteers across North America. This past year has been a bit challenging; we are incredibly proud of the commitment and creative ways our volunteers have found to connect with others seeking support and solutions for their hearing loss.

Cochlear is fortunate to have a community of volunteers that go above and beyond every day to help anyone wanting to learn more about Cochlear from someone who understands what they are going through.

Pat’s volunteer efforts are nothing short of amazing. She continues to make significant contributions in her community not only with Cochlear, but Pat also volunteers locally at the St. Vincent DePaul food pantry, has served as a committee chair with the SayWhatClub and she is involved with her local Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and Access Virginia which brings captioned theater to local venues.

Hear-O Of the Year Pat K.

Hearing loss isolates you from so much of life

“I gave up so much of my life both as a volunteer and worker when my hearing loss made it impossible to do the quality of work I wanted to do. I became more and more isolated,” remarked Pat.  “With better hearing I am back to doing so many things, including more volunteering and things I thought would be gone from my life forever.”

Pat describes her life before receiving her cochlear implant as “being physically present but I had little idea of what everyone was talking or laughing about. I missed real interaction with family and friends I missed being seen as someone who could intelligently contribute.”

“I started losing my hearing about fifteen years ago. I had good and bad experiences with numerous professionals and different hearing aids before getting my cochlear implant. It took me four years from the time I was approved until I got my surgery. That’s four years I can’t get back. I know every excuse for waiting and understand every fear and emotion involved, but things got better when I met people who understood what I was going through and mentored me along the way. Now being able to do that for others has become a passion of mine.”

Be patient and willing to do some work

“Receiving my cochlear implant was not just a gift to me but also to my family. To be able to communicate with my 5 and 2-year-old grandchildren is everything! I am so grateful!

Pat shared, that since getting her cochlear implant, her word recognition has improved significantly. “When mentoring someone, I suggest that after they receive their cochlear implant, approach activation with patience and you have to be willing to put in some work. I practiced listening with audiobooks and apps that help with listening rehabilitation to help me along. Everyone’s results and time frame to achieving better hearing is different.”

Today, Pat wears the Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor and she is hoping to go bilateral soon and is excited to try out the new Kanso® 2 Sound Processor when that day comes.

If you or a loved one is struggling with hearing loss and would like to be connected with a volunteer, please visit Cochlear’s Connect with a Mentor page to learn more.

Are you a Cochlear recipient and like Pat, want help with listening rehabilitation?

Cochlear has a new self-guided mobile app CochlearTM CoPilot, that may help adults improve hearing outcomes. This interactive app equips you with knowledge, information, and activities to help you build your listening and communication skills for your everyday life123 Download the app today for free!

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Keesha Pfeiffer