On the morning of October 1, 2009, members of the hearing healthcare industry woke to the tragic news that we lost one of our shining stars. Alison Berry, a sales representative at Unitron Hearing, was driving to meet a client for an early morning appointment when an oncoming vehicle veered into her lane. Neither Alison nor the other driver survived the crash.
“Alison was a super fun, energetic, bubbly, smart, vibrant young woman whose passion was simply to help as many people as possible,” says Jillian Wieser, a former co-worker of Berry’s at Unitron. “After the accident, Alison’s friends and family wanted to come up with a way to remember and honor her. That’s when we created Alison’s Hope for Hearing.”
Today Alison’s Hope for Hearing helps support programs for the deaf and hard of hearing. “Our main goal is providing amplification for people who are in need but who cannot afford hearing instruments on their own either because they do not qualify for state aid or other assistance programs,” says Wieser who works as the President of the non-profit organization. “Hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars and that cost puts them out of reach for a lot of people. Unfortunately many of these people cannot work or survive without them. It’s a real catch 22.”
In the first five months of 2012, Alison’s Hope has successfully assisted in the fittings of over 15 individuals. “We’ve also donated hearing aids to hospital hospice programs and our members have volunteered at events throughout the country to provide information on hearing loss and hearing prevention,” adds Wieser. “We also developed a program where we provide ‘hospital care packs’ to patients with hearing loss who are staying in the hospital.”
“We try to help as many people as we possibly can,” explains Wieser. People looking for assistance from the program should contact Alison’s Hope via their website and fill out an application. There is a non-refundable application fee of $100.
Once an application is received, it can take between six to eight weeks to ensure the applicant fits within the income and hearing loss parameters. “We also have to find an audiologist who is willing to provide their time for the services needed,” says Wieser. Audiologists are encouraged to enroll in the program and fill out an application as well. Wieser encourages hearing care providers – whether they’re approved providers or not – to promote the program to their patients who may not be able to afford their products or services.
What does the future hold for Alison’s Hope for Hearing? “Well, right now we’re processing dozens of applications and I hope to approve every single one of them,” says Wieser. “The bigger problem is funding for the program and we can’t proceed with our applicants without donations from private individuals and corporate sponsors.”
Wieser points out that donating to the program is quite easy. Donations can be sent directly to: Alison’s Hope for Hearing, PO Box 47834, Minneapolis, MN 55447 or by visiting the organization’s website where you can donate on-line or purchase goods.