Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran

Our Toastmaster of the day was Chris Wolfe, who is outstanding and always leads energy-charged meetings.

Jim Hartnett was the 1st speaker and as our Toastmaster mentioned, needed no introduction particularly because he founded Miracle Mile Toastmasters 55 years ago.  Chris also referred to him as Saint James.

We were entertained by one of Jim’s many “ice-breaker” speeches, mostly for the benefit of our newer members and guests.  Jim told us his family left New York in 1925 settling in Miami and shortly thereafter, they had their first hurricane disaster in 1926.  Jim was the third of 5 siblings (5 boys and 1 girl).  He was born in Miami.  He went to Union College in New York but did not quite make it through his freshman year because the school felt he did not meet their standards so he came back to Miami and attended UM and later UF.  He was drafted to serve in the Korean War; he spent 16 months in Korea and 8 months in South Carolina.  Jim went into the family insurance business and is still active today.  He met his wife, the daughter of a Miami City Commissioners at a dance, dated for 2 years and married.  Jim’s father was Mayor of Coral Gables so Jim often refers to his marriage as a political merger.  The Hartnetts had a boy and a girl and now are the happy grandparents of 4 grandchildren.  When Jim was growing up Coral Gables was a great town.  There was no crime and things were more relaxed.  He recalled the occasion when due to heavy rain the bus he took went off its route to drop him off in front of his house.  Jim was 10 years old when WWII started.  When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor everything changed.  There were rations for food, for gas and coupons were handed out.  People saved everything.  Recycling is not a new concept; back then everything was recycled.  Now you know more about Saint James.

The second Speaker was Nick Zwemer who taught us three lessons you won’t learn in a Scuba Diving School.  He started out his speech by asking the audience to raise their hands if they were Certified Scuba Divers. He told us he was certified at the age of 12 but there weren’t too many certified 12 year olds so he didn’t scuba dive for some time.  He went on to tell us that ordinarily, in a school of scuba they teach the basic safety rules of controlled breathing underwater, always dive with a buddy, etc.  However, there are three important lessons to pay attention to which won’t be taught at any scuba school. 1) Sea turtles are jerks.  They are not the cool, relaxed turtles depicted in the movie Nemo.  If you come across a sea turtle you should stay out of their way. Before knowing this fact, Nick was charged by a sea turtle; this is why they are jerks. 2) Never pee in your wet suit no matter the urgency.   At first you will feel a sense of warmth but wet suits are made to retain water/liquid so you will be swimming in your pee until you remove the suit.  3) Never touch anything under water.  Everything under water stings like jellyfish and some fish are poisonous.

Our Table Topics Master was Leisha John.  Leisha always has fun and challenging questions.

1)      Luisa Herran talked about her two favorite social causes, which are the Guardian Ad-Litem Program and the women’s fellowship ministry at Homestead’s Correctional Institute.  She explained their purpose and why she feels compelled to volunteer.

2)      Dominique Stauffer told us the biggest issues facing America today are children.  We don’t care enough for children particularly in the education area.  This is one of the reasons why we need to import jobs.  Her love for children also led her to the Guardian Ad-Litem program.

3)      Jerry Bailey shared his view on how Toastmasters changes prisoners’ lives.  He has seen men who now have a purpose and better sense of who they are and how they continue to improve.  Not only that, but Jerry himself has grown through the experience.

4)      Arlene Amitirigala told us what she expected to accomplish from   joining Toastmasters.   She said she anticipated exhilarating ideas, interesting topics and people, and learning from the materials.

5)      Sylvia de Pico said that the most important aspect of effective communication is to have a clear mind and have the ability to express yourself.  You have to know your own mind and pull forward the right words.

6)      Alexander Moreira told us he wasn’t sure where he and his family would go if Miami was no longer habitable.  One thing he did know for sure is he would go somewhere higher.  He reminded us of his advice to “sell low, buy high”.

7)      Sharon Patish told us what she has learned from the Presidential debates.  She mentioned how the candidates are pros at speaking spontaneously.  She felt the last debate was congenial.  She encouraged us to listen carefully to what the candidates have to say so we can make the right choices.

8)      Brian McMahon told us his favorite meal was old-fashioned chicken parmesan.  He shared a conversation he had amongst friends where they talked about their choices for a last meal. One friend said surf and turf, another said salmon and steamed vegetables, while Brian would go for old-fashioned chicken parmesan.  He thinks there might be a hint of Italian in him.

9)      Chris Wolfe explained what makes Coral Gables special.  He believes the city maintains high standards, and crime control.  For a while there were home invasions but they were quickly stopped. It’s also special because it is a tightly run community.

The winners of Table Topics:

1st place:  Jerry Bailey

2nd place: Brian McMahon

3rd place: Arlene Amitirigala

The Master Evaluator was Cristian Stenstrom, Evaluator 1 was Chris Nolte, and Evaluator 2 was Ghislaine Demombynes.

Chris Nolte evaluated Jim Hartnett’s speech. Chris like how Jim used verbal history to give us more information from visualizing his description of events.  He was great in the use of pauses/transitions.  However, he could improve in maintaining the sequence of events because he was back and forth, which made it hard to keep up.

Ghislaine Demombyne evaluated Nick Zwemer’s speech. Nick had a great introduction and engaged the audience.  He had vocal variety and subject expertise gave him strength.  Can improve the use of “so” by preparing connectors beforehand.  Conclusion was abrupt, needed a call to action.

We welcomed our guests, Brian McMahon and Paul Massad.   Hope to see you at our next meeting.

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