The Best Way to Beat Beltway Traffic - Beat a Path to Your Own Backyard

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Instead of enduring the traffic-snarled Beltway, a fed-up commuter launches a chartered Toastmasters Club geared to fellow baby boomers at her Virginia golf course community.

Instead of enduring the traffic-snarled Beltway, a fed-up commuter launches a chartered Toastmasters Club geared to fellow baby boomers at her Virginia golf course community.

Business Consultant, Eva Jenkins knows that good communications is "the centerpiece of personal and professional success." When she decided recently that it was time to improve her own public speaking skills and leadership abilities, one word came to mind: Toastmasters. "Toastmasters International is one of the country's premiere information resources for public speaking and speech training," she reports.

Since Toastmasters began in 1924, more than three million men and women have benefited from the organization's communication and leadership programs. Jenkins wanted to join their ranks. Time and distance were her enemies.

Think Global, Toast Local
There are hundreds of Toastmasters clubs throughout the U.S. However, when Jenkins investigated becoming a member, she was surprised to learn that the nearest group meeting was more than 30 minutes away. "Distance means something different to a Beltway driver," says Jenkins. Commuters report that a 40-minute trip can easily stretch into 2 hours or more of stand-still on the Inner and Outer Loops. "In order to get to DC in the morning from where I live, I would need to get on the road between 5:00 and 5:30 A.M.. in order to be certain that I'd make it by 8:00 or 8:30 A.M."

The long commute made membership in the club problematic for the busy professional who was convinced that others were missing out on the Toastmasters experience for the same reason. "I would have had to move mountains to commit to make meetings and probably arrived too stressed out to get anything from being there," Jenkins explains. It was then that she decided to "bring the mountain to Mohammed" and create a Toastmasters Charter Club closer to home.

Home for Jenkins is the Dominion Valley Country Club, which hosts twin courses and clubhouses. One is intended for members 55 and up; the other for members under 55. "I looked at my wonderful, accomplished neighbors and was certain that they could benefit from being part of Toastmasters," says Jenkins. "The club could serve as both a hub for learning and a gathering place for residents.

A Community Affair
"Our residents are extraordinary people," reports Jenkins, pointing to professionals ranging from business owners to various level of professionals and executives. Noting the stellar achievements of the people around her, Jenkins decided to create a different model for her club. Although many Toastmaster groups are closed to employees of a specific company or business, Jenkins has determined that the Dominion Valley club will be open to all. "It's a community club," she says, "and our policy is going to be one of inclusion."

Dominion Valley is home to many young families. "Some of the mothers have held corporate positions in the past, but got out of the work force to be at home with their young children." Jenkins hopes that Toastmasters membership will help them "maintain or increase their current skills so when they rejoin the workforce, they will be ahead of the game." Jenkins hopes that retirees will also participate to keep their skills up or learn new skills. "Learning doesn't stop when you retire any more than living does," says Jenkins emphatically.

At regularly scheduled monthly meetings, Toastmaster members give oral speeches and give and receive evaluations, both from their peers and the mentors. "The speakers develop their presentation skills," says Jenkins. "The listeners develop their analytical and critical skills."

About Toastmasters
According to the organization's mission statement, "Toastmasters International is the leading movement devoted to making effective oral communication a worldwide reality." The mission each club is to "provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth."

Toastmasters International oversees the creation of all charter clubs. "I, myself, went through an application process to be approved by the national group," explains Jenkins. She has also been assigned a veteran Toastmaster Leader to ensure that the club is set up properly and marketed effectively. "Once we have 20 members, the Leader will assign mentors to our group to help us get the most out of the Toastmasters training content," says Jenkins.

For more information about this new Charter Club of Toastmasters International, please contact Eva Jenkins at (571) 248-8041.


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