Our Toastmaster of the Day, Ghislaine Demombynes, opened the meeting giving us a theme of appreciation.  We are busy with jobs, family, friends and as a result often don’t take time to fully appreciate all these pieces of our lives.


How delightful to welcome a new member and listen to his Icebreaker.  Andres del Corral is a native Floridian, growing up right here in Miami.  As a youngster, he enjoyed watching “20/20″ and thought about becoming a TV Journalist.  His first opportunity came at Gulliver Academy, but he was behind the camera.  Turns out Andres had a fear of public speaking (too bad there wasn’t a Toastmaster’s Club at school).  In college he studied TV production and upon graduation headed out to California to follow his dream.  While at Intermedia Productions, he worked on a film  called,”Fear Factor.”  He asked if we’d seen it and receiving no response said, “That’s OK, no one else did either.”  As often happens, reality can be sobering and Andres missed his tropical Miami.  Oddly his decision to return had a political twist.  He decided if Arnold became “governator,” he was leaving California.  Arnold won.  Andres returned, went back to college receiving his MBA.  Today he is working in Commercial Real Estate and loves it.


Dominique Stauffer recently returned to our Miracle Mile family.  Since we last saw Dominique, she became a member of Guardian ad Litem.  Members of “GAL” are volunteers appointed to represent the interests of minor children in court.  In the United States there are 600,000 children  in need of Court appointed special advocates.  There are 3,000 right here in Miami.  They range in age from babies to teens.  Volunteers facilitate for the well being of children by advocating for, and investigating on behalf of them.  In addition, GAL members go to the homes, speak with teachers, therapists and doctors.  Results show, with these efforts, children do better in school, often spend less time in foster care, and are not as frequently moved from one foster situation to another.  Dominique has found volunteering to be rewarding and the benefits to the children are immeasurable.


Mike Molina once again stepped up to be our Table Topics Master.  How would you have responded?

How is appreciation important to you?  What triggers you into a feeling of appreciation?  Thinking of the public services we receive, which group do you appreciate the most?  What do you appreciate most about your kids?  What is the greatest contribution Toastmasters has made in your life?  What do you think we have in life that we take for granted?  What would you like to be remembered for in the world?

Wow!  It was pretty tough for our contestants, but three people got the most votes.  In third place we had Sharon Patish, in second place we had Chris Nolte and our winner was Chris Wolfe who, as a result of Toastmasters, established “Voices Of Time,” and appreciates how fortunate he is.


Our Master Evaluator, Alex Moreira and his team Jody Johnson and Jim Hartnett left us all with some suggestions on how to improve our speaking skills:

1) Use pictures or other visual objects to draw attention to strong points in your speech.

2)  Watch what you do with your hands — you want movement but too much can be distracting.

3)  When possible, end your speech with a call to action.