Happy Birthday, SWC!

Alan Sprague
Copyright November 2002

I happened to be sitting here, looking out at a cold nearly-winter morning, when I realized that soon there will be an anniversary. On the morning of December 14, 1997 (a day much like today), Bob Elkins flew into Seattle from Chicago. Three hours later he and I were in the office of a local attorney presenting him with a set of bylaws that the "admin group" had spent months hammering out. We asked him to draw up articles of incorporation, and guide the paperwork through the state's bureaucracy. He was intrigued by the notion of an internet-based organization and with the mission we described, and so he cut his usual fee in half and promised to push the paperwork through quickly. Twenty-four hours later, we signed the documents he had drawn up, and on December 16th, we received our Certificate of Incorporation as a nonprofit organization from the State of Washington. SayWhatClub was officially born.

The little group that began gathering together around 1992 had grown to the point where official organization was necessary for handling the legal and financial aspects of the group. None of us had guessed that the band of a dozen or so people would grow to more than 400 today. To our knowledge, SWC was the only internet-based organization of its kind.

We began with 3 or 4 people putting their heads together and saying, "How can we organize this thing to keep it going in a meaningful way?" Many of the directions we took were in response to new developments and opportunities that arose, or were reactions to problems that needed solving. If one question was asked more than any other, it probably was, "Well, what do we do NOW?"

What pleases many of us about the development and growth of SWC is that we've been able to "be there" for so many people. And when I say, "we" I mean ALL of you SWCers. With a current population hovering around 400, I'd guess we've been able to serve a total of probably six to eight hundred people over the past 10 years. We've been able to develop a culture of friendliness, and support. We are not another SHHH, nor another ALDA. The rewards are seeing a new person come in to discover that, indeed, he or she is NOT the only person experiencing hearing loss, that there are others who DO understand the frustrations and stresses, and who have experiences and knowledge that they are willing to share.

Of course there are always concerns and problems that need to be addressed. SWC is not a finished product. We do not pretend it is perfect. We continue to be a work in progress, an ongoing invention that is not yet completed. I expect SWC will continue to evolve -- perhaps in ways we have never foreseen nor expected. With 12 listservs, chatrooms, websites, an online newsletter, annual conventions and "flings", there is a lot to keep us busy.

Everyone, whether simply participating on a list, or tackling the organization of a convention, has contributed to making SWC what it is today and is a valuable part of who we are.

Happy 5th Birthday, everyone!


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