Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Healthy Impact?

People are one of my passions. I crave people the way some crave chocolate or potato chips. Each person on the planet is unique, special and evolving.

To fuel my passion, I volunteer as the Sponsor for a Toastmasters Club at the local State Prison. Toastmasters is an international club and its purpose is to help men and women all over the globe to speak well, think on their feet, keep to a time frame, and express themselves well in business, in private conversation, and in the public eye. It is well structured and formulated to take any person through a series of manuals from the most basic skills to the most advanced, even professional, levels. Education is Toastmasters' cornerstone. New members quickly and simultaneously travel both the Communication and Leadership tracks.

Every meeting is delightful, entertaining, informative and exciting. Mondays are special because Monday is the regular meeting time for LibOrators 986233 at the Tecumseh State Correctional Facility.

But last night knocked our socks off!

The membership crowded cheerily into the small meeting room. The Sargeant At Arms and his assistants had arranged tables and chairs brought from other meeting rooms and set up everything in an orderly fashion. There was a pair of rosters to be signed as the members and guests entered the meeting, there was a pot of coffee and a cooler full of water. I am always impressed at how hospitable these inmates are! Hanging proudly from the ceiling at the front of the room was our club banner with all our hard-earned ribbons. The lectern and gavel were at the ready.

There were three of us from the streets, all women. One woman is our Toastmasters' Area Governor, another is a new member, and there is yours truly. Each of us is old enough to be these fellows' grandmothers. They treat us like royalty, bringing us coffee or water and refills and reminding us how glad they are we came for the meeting, asking about our weekends, smiling broadly and pumping our hands with firm handshakes.

Last night's speeches were quite varied. There was a comical speech about a pair of lost glasses. One man spoke about perspective. Another man somberly retraced his life, starting with a tragic accident-he had been a tricycle riding 5 year old, struck by a milk truck. One young man explained that his drug habit had begun under the thumb of his own parents, who encouraged him to experiment with marijuana.

The courage of his sharing that story so publicly was remarkable. No wonder he is making such long strides in his life; he is working diligently with Toastmasters as well as the 7th Step program in order to rehabilitate his life. He has recognized and honored his need and desire for change .

The Table Topics portion of the meeting was pure fun. Everyone had a chance to speak. It was lighthearted and the men encouraged one another throughout. The General Evaluation was deemed to be quite good. We all need to improve our grammar and lower our use of 'um' and 'y'know' with a bow to Caroline Kennedy.

The KICKER was that one of the members who came for a time, fell away and returned, told several of us that he had met with the Parole Board. He declared that without his Toastmasters experience, he would never have had the courage to face the Parole Board. With a big smile, he said, "I would have had my face to the floor. But because I have had Toastmasters to help me, I could look the people on the Board in the eye with confidence."

This underscores the impact that can take place when one follows his passion.

Another of my passions is health. I want to stay healthy for a very long time so I can continue my Monday 'ritual' of attending Toastmasters and seeing this kind of progress. I'll do that, of course, by following the regimen I have mentioned to you so many times on this blog. By now you understand you, too, can enjoy the vibrant good health I do by doing some or all of the things I have done.


Connie Baum


  1. Anyone who wants to meet exceptional people, attend a Toastmasters meeting. Better yet, a TM meeting inside prison walls. You will never meet a more humble, more anxious to learn and grow bunch of people! KUDOS Connie for giving of your time. ...Although I know you get more out of it than they do... :)

  2. I think the key to having a long healthy life is having a purpose and a reason to get out of bed...to impact the lives of others and to keep moving. Thanks for all that you do to inspire those around you!

  3. Connie, You are such a blessing to that particular Toast Master Group, but I see that they are a blessing to you as well. Onward, Liberators.
    Sincerely, Sheila Davis

  4. Aw, how nice of you all to take the time to comment and to validate my devotion to one of my passions.

    "Compassion is the healing salve for all suffering. An open heart changes the world."

  5. Thanks for sharing. I really like your writing style, too. I enjoy reading what you write!!



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