Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran

Andy Newman was Toastmaster of the day.  The theme for the meeting was  “A Defining Moment in your Life”.  Andy encouraged us to think about those times of transition that lead to a defining moment.  What made it happen?

Mike Molina was the 1st speaker.  His speech revolved around a phrase from the movie Gladiator when Russel Crowe said “what we do today echoes in eternity”.  Mike shared an experience that impacted him early in life.  He attended a private elementary school in the area and when in the 4th grade was asked not to return.  However, it was not caused by his behavior.  According to the school, his family was not contributing enough to the church.  It was meant to be.  Had it not been for this circumstance, he would have never met a teacher at his new school who inspired him to get involved in extracurricular activities. Mike wanted to be like Steven Seagal so he took up karate and jiujitsu.  Because of the discipline he developed, he found he had nothing in common with friends that involved themselves in questionable activities.  Furthermore, Mike was able to influence his brother who had addictions to the point that he put his life back together, married his high school sweetheart and is leading a good life.  Mike encouraged us to live life knowing that what you do has an impact on those around you.  Think of your actions as a game of chess.  Any move has an impact on future moves and affects the decisions you make with multiple decisions and outcomes at play.  Always think in terms of this question: “am I doing what I am committed to doing”?  Mike shared how before acting or making a decision, he thinks how that will impact his son because he wants to be the best father for his son.  Remember “what we do today echoes in eternity”.

Our Toastmaster reminded us that speeches are good opportunities to get other to know us.

The 2nd Speaker was Lina Draney who delivered her 5th speech entitled “Urban Life Crossing”.  Lina started by telling us how as a child in the Dominican Republic, she and some relatives were attacked by wild hungry animals that turned out to be Iguanas.  Fast-forward to the present, to a day when she was driving on the airport Perimeter Road.  When you get to 57th Avenue it is particularly a busy intersection.  As Lina waited at the intersection she witnessed an Iguana crossing.  Lina explained in fine detail and with gestures how the Iguana moved.  Her description was so vivid we felt like we were there watching this event alongside Lina.  She also told us how after the Iguana decided to turn back after having crossed and how a crow flew down and fluttered around the Iguana and then just left.  Lina never understood what that was all about.  However, as far as Lina could tell the Iguana was safe and out of harm’s way.  Lina was amazed at how much you miss.  As she looked around, everyone that was in their car waiting for the light to turn were busy looking down at their cell phones missing all the excitement.

The Table Topics Master of the day was Jason Hesch.  Jason’s questions were challenging.  The contestants were witty and all had good answers.

  1. Diane Saavedra, our latest Toastmaster, told us how her favorite book as a child was “Who Moved My Cheese” and gave us a quick summary
  2. Virginia Wolber told us that if she won $100,000 that couldn’t be spent on her, she would donate it to cancer treatment for someone who couldn’t afford it
  3. Felix Lorenzo had no opinion on one of the candidates running for President.  That is why he registered as Independent because he doesn’t trust Republicans or Democrats.  They are either too much to the right or too much to the left.  Politicians need to be clear, not promise what they can’t deliver.  All one can do is wish for the best.
  4. Jennifer Garcia was asked to give reasons why Donald Trump should be elected.  Jennifer emphatically replied, “DO NOT ELECT DONALD TRUMP”.  She begged both Republicans and Democrats to heed her cry.
  5. Jim Harnett told us how he would design a self-driving car.  Jim explained how the car would not have a key. The minute you walk onto the driveway the doors open automatically.  The car also parallel parks automatically.  All of this is controlled by your cell phone.  The best part is that this is the biggest hoax and all for $10,000.00


1st place: Jim Harnett

2nd place: Felix Lorenzo

3rd place: Jennifer Garcia

The Master Evaluator was Luisa Herran who went on to give feedback on the meeting and speech Evaluators.  She commended the Toastmaster for running such a fine meeting and for explaining the mechanics of the meeting.  She also appreciated the thought provoking theme.  Luisa mentioned how both Evaluators gave excellent evaluations.  Andres Corral evaluated Mike Molina’s speech.  This was Andres’ first evaluation.  Jerry Bailey evaluated Lina Draney’s theme.  A particular area for improvement is to time your speeches adequately so you are not rushed at the end trying to wrap things up.

New Evaluators are encouraged to use the manual to follow the guidelines, which translates into a thorough evaluation.

We welcomed  our guest George de Cardenas and our new member, Diane Saavedra.


Toastmaster, Andres del Corral gave his third speech, a pitch to prospective buyers for space at 396 Alhambra.  This Class A Office Building has closed most of the 286,000 square feet of office space, with long-term leases.  There are two towers, the North Tower having a domed gazebo overlooking Coral Gables.  Next to the fountain is the fabulous Chocolate Fashion, providing elegant cuisine from their artisanal bakery and restaurant.  The ground floor has a life fitness complex which provides organic food as well as exercise.  Of particular interest to our club  members is the fact both Towers have been awarded LEED certification and are “green” buildings.  Andres has been involved with selling space at this site since it was in first under construction.  With little office space left, one can obtain space at Class B rates ($35 – $37 per square foot).  Andres is eager to find executives looking for premier space.  Once all is sold, he starts on the next complex that is still in the planning stages.  Andres sales presentation was right on target.

Do you like to live a life of uncertainty?  Imagine not being able to find parts for your car, or your appliances.  What would it be like to have an office, but no paper, no pens, no computers, no equipment?  That is Caracas today.  A once idyllic city, Caracas now lacks safety, security, food.  Our second speaker, Ghislaine Demombynes, just returned from Venezuela.  She recalled her odyssey when attempting to buy groceries.  There are government regulated markets — where products are limited or unavailable; or the market place, where products are overpriced and unaffordable.  When she went shopping there was a huge line, so she decided to come back.  When she returned, there was nothing.  Then, she had to wait till the next time she could go shopping (there are only certain days you can shop).  This time she waited.  She needed oil and soap.  She got flour and chicken.  You get what they have.  There are people who will stand in line for you, of course they must be paid as well.  A city which was vibrant and exciting, is now wracked by uncertainty, murder, kidnapping, and run by a corrupt government.  Could this happen here?  Ghislaine believes it could happen anywhere.   She believes we must all be vigilant and listen to politicians.  What are they really saying?  Is it credible?  We must all be watchful, and careful.

Leisha John, our Table Topics Master had questions revolving around these Dog Days of summer.  Our winners were: 3rd place, Sharon Patish, who suffers road rage; 2nd place, Jason Hesch who loves hot dogs; and our big winner Mike Molina, who advised us not to go to Italy in July (no air conditioning).

Our Evaluation Team, Jim Hartnett, Lina Draney and Tu Duong, gave us all something to think about.

  1.  Watch those false starts.
  2. Reinforce main points.
  3. During Table Topics, look at all of the audience.
  4. Make sure your presenter has your introduction.

Before closing the meeting, we welcomed our newest member Sylvia Do Pico.  We wish here a great journey in Toastmasters.  We also welcomed the following guests:  Ricardo Vegas and Alex Hartnett.  We also welcomed back, Raj Narayan, Yoanny Alvarez, and Dianne Saavedra-Corradi.  Hope to see you all again soon.


Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran

THE THEME OF OUR MEETING WAS: There was no theme, there was not even a Toastmaster or for that matter an Agenda!

It was getting close to starting time and our President, Sharon Patish was trying to calmly figure out what to do.  Luckily, Chris Nolte volunteered to be Toastmaster for the day.  Also, with great advice from Hector Hernandez and support from Sharon, Chris was able to put together a paperless Agenda.  He commented that Leisha John, our Green Toatmaster would have been proud of us going paperless.  Chris decided that the theme for our meeting would be “IMPROVISING ON THE FLY”, which was quite appropriate.

The meeting turned out to be one of the funniest, most entertaining meetings I have attended and many of the long-standing Toastmaster commented the same.  Toastmasters and guests were bent over with laughter.  We laughed so hard our sides hurt.  It was hilarious, and here is how it started.

The first speaker, Jason Hesch really made us laugh.  His speech was about George W. Bush’s misuse of the English language.  Jason shared infamous Bush quotes and cautioned us not to fall into making the same mistakes.  There were many quotes Jason shared.  For example, Bush said that his opponent McCain had “misunderestimated me” and it’s the reason he won the candidacy for President.  Another example, “Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?”  There were many more and Jason did a fabulous job delivering his message.  You had to be there!

Susan Racher was our second speaker.  The title of her speech was “Out of the Clutter and Out of the Closet of a Dumpster Diva”.  Susan had us laughing from start to end. After 30 years of living in the same home, she decided it needed a facelift. She felt like she was trying out for one of those HOARDER reality shows.  Her aim, besides remodeling, was to simplify her life by losing clutter.  In the process, she found so many things she didn’t know she had, and had no use for.  She broke the process down into 6 steps starting out with the garage then moving into the house 1) where to trash the garbage? There weren’t enough Glad bags to contain all the trash.  She Googled : “dumpsters” and VOILA!  found them in all sizes and colors, 2) sort out, 3) create rules, do not keep what doesn’t give you joy; donate, 4) moved into house. Found gifts from mother-in-law she had never used, 5) protect things you love, label, 6) organize inside closets.  She found the exercise to be the “convergence” of all episodes of her life.  Now she was ready to redecorate.  There were tears of regret or were they mostly tears of relief?

Table Topics are always so entertaining when Paula Hesch is the Table Topics Master.  Paula was very creative, and the theme was Grab Bag.  She had a bag filled with different items, which she had each contestant pull and talk about the item, or sell it or tell a story.  1) Jim Harnett pulled out a magazine, which he tried to sell as a precious document to apply to your home life on how to save your marriage and how to raise children.  The advice from the magazine: don’t marry in the first place and if you don’t like children, don’t have any.  2) Virginia Wolber pulled out a tape measure.  She explained how it was used in decorating just the previous week by her husband when putting up pictures in their new home.  He really made it into a mathematical process.  3) Gonzalo Sanabria pulled out an American classics CD, which reminded him of his college days. When he studied he always listened to classical music and still does.  4) Roxanne Jorge pulled out a bottle of Goo Gone.  She has several of these at home but doesn’t know what the product is used for.  She read the label right there and then and figured out its use. 5) Hector Hernandez pulled out a trophy.  He told us in amazement how he stills wonders how he pulled it off?  How he managed to marry so many times?  The trophy   was for having the most marriages.  1st place went to Hector, 2nd place went to Roxanne, and 3rd place went to Jim.  GREAT TABLE TOPICS!

The Evaluators were Jodi Johnson (1) and Sharon Patish (2).  They both gave great evaluations and their feedback was quite useful.  The speeches were so funny that there was not much to improve.

We wish to welcome our guests back:  Roxanne Jorge, former Toastmaster and possibly rejoining! Dianne Saavedra-Corradi, Yoanny Alvarez, and Claudia Hernandez, guest of Hector Hernandez (no relation).


We were pleased to welcome our Area Director, Geno Jaramillo to the meeting.  Geno had come to install our new officers.  Unfortunately Mike Molina, Educational Vice President, Chris Nolte, Membership Vice President, Luisa Herran, Secretary and Ghislaine Demombynes, Treasurer, were unable to attend.  However we were able to   observe Jim Hartnett, Sergeant at Arms, Nick Zwemer, Vice President Public Relations, and Sharon Patish, President accept their new responsibilities.


Our own “Tedster,” Leisha John, presented a challenge, to consider the possibility of expanding our horizons by presenting a topic at Ted Talks.  Sometimes referred to as the “Ultimate Brain Spa,” or “The New Harvard,” Ted gives one the opportunity to stand in the big red dot and espouse an idea.  Founded in 1984, as a one-off event, it is now a global set of conferences, with the slogan, “Ideas worth spreading.”  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design and it is around those three areas the initial discussions revolved, but the focus has now expanded and includes many cultural, scientific and academic topics.  Leisha’s was “White Roofs for Green Schools,” and she happily showed how starting the idea of painting the roof of one school, has taken root and now 75 schools in Dade County have incorporated this trend.  It’s not only a proven financial success, but it has lowered carbon emissions.  How are speakers chosen?  You need to have credentials — have you written a book, is your job a catalyst towards presenting an idea? Do you have a personal connection with the topic?  At the end of your talk, have a call to action.  So, do you have an idea worth spreading?  Organize a speech that is under 18 minutes, then nominate yourself or have someone nominate you.  The nomination forms are available on line.  What’s stopping you?


Paula Hesch is an accomplished designer, a past president of Miracle Mile Toastmasters, and she started our mentorship program…so she is not someone you would think was on her way to prison.  Of course, Paula was going to the Voices of Time Gavel Club, at the Everglades Correctional Institution.  Once each week, the club meets and members of our club attend as leaders or assistants.  Before traveling to the prison you’ll need to give Chris Wolfe (the leader) your driver’s license number, social security number and date of birth.  This starts your Security Clearance.  Once you arrive, the only thing you can bring is your driver’s license, car keys, paper and pen.  You hand over your driver’s license (don’t worry you get it back as you leave) and then just like the airport, take off your shoes, put your keys in a dish and move forward through a metal detector.  When you go to the building where the meeting is held you are handed a panic button (hmm, is that supposed to ease your mind).  As Paula and the others entered the meeting area, 40 men stood and gave them a standing ovation (a sign of gratitude for our assisting their program).  The speeches were incredible — an IceBreaker from a man who has been in prison since 1979.  Another inmate gave his 10th and final speech from the basic manual titled “Crossroads.”  It depicted exactly where he stands today.  Paula found the men motivated, opinionated, focused and knowledgeable.  The meeting ended early and Cristian Stenstrom, said there was time for more Table Topics.  The men were told they could ask Paula questions.  Very good questions were forthcoming, the last was “What will you tell your club about us.”  Paula’s answer to them and to us, “the Voices of Time Gavel Club is well run, interesting and, most of all, enjoyable.

Our time was running out so Hector Hernandez, Table Topics Master had time for only 3 questions.  He queried Tu about whether giving up attachments is helpful to achieving a better life.  Hector then had the misfortune to ask Leisha how he could redeem himself.  Finally he asked Wanda Bee if she thought redemption is overrated.  Leisha won with her answer on how Hector could redeem himself.  Poor Hector.


When developing a speech focus on what your conclusions will be.  It helps tighten the speech.

Have an emotional connection with the audience.

When possible get the audience involved.  Ask questions.