Saturday October 27, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- "We learn in moments of enjoyment," are the words of Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, who founded the first Toastmasters club at the YMCA in Santa Ana, Calif., 88 years ago. Dr. Smedley, then-YMCA director, created the club in October 1924 for young men to practice their after-dinner speeches in a social environment. Today, nearly 300,000 men and women are improving their communication and leadership skills using the values and model that Dr. Smedley developed. There are more than 13,500 clubs in 116 countries throughout the world.

"Dr. Smedley laid the framework for the Toastmasters learn-by-doing model," says Daniel Rex, Executive Director of Toastmasters International.

In Toastmasters, members meet weekly to learn and practice public speaking and leadership techniques. There is no instructor; instead, members evaluate each other’s presentations.

Toastmasters clubs around the world will celebrate the anniversary with special meetings and events. Locally, BrattleMasters, which meets at the Marlboro College Grad Center, Room 2E, 28 Vernon St., on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. will offer special presentations. The general public is invited to visit a meeting and learn more about the program’s benefits. For information: www.brattleboro.freetoasthost.ws.

Current membership resides in Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts.