Help Yourself By Helping Others!

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living by what you get.  You make a life by what you give.”  I believe in today’s culture and society this still holds true.  So often, as individuals we are caught up with our own agendas and plans for what we expect this life to give us.  We work hard to further our education, careers, and personal and spiritual growth.  We provide unconditional support to our family, friends and loved ones. But what about providing the same supports for the benefit of our community, both immediate and professional?

My son, Dustin, diagnosed with Autism at the age of two and now a young adult, initially spurred my volunteer and advocacy efforts within our educational system and community.  For the past 20 years, through my personal experiences as a mother, my career, and volunteer efforts, I have continued to develop and build new skills that have boosted my confidence and my personal, professional and social resources.   All skill levels and experiences are needed to create a well-rounded volunteer community.  I found this to be true very early on as I was learning about my son’s diagnosis and searching for supports in our community.  When there were none to be found, I sought to remedy the problem and so began my first volunteer experience.  Doubts crept in and I was unsure I had anything to offer other young mothers and families going through similar situations.  I was so wrong!  I found out that others were craving and needing exactly what I was searching for.  As our small family support group grew, I saw other mothers grow in confidence and ability and, in turn, my confidence in my abilities as a mother, advocate and volunteer grew.  Volunteering to support others helped me in ways I could never have imagined.  Any skill that a person possesses can provide a great benefit and contribution to an organization or may provide a positive impact for even just a single individual in the community.   Either way...well worth the efforts!  I cannot tell you the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with knowing how playing such a positive role to the benefit of someone else feels!  

As a new clinician, and knowing the benefits of volunteerism, I sought out volunteer opportunities that provided a positive impact to my profession.  I myself had benefited from a grant/scholarship opportunity which enabled me to complete my graduate education.  I can personally speak to how this supported me in reaching my educational goals.  The educational grant I received was a tremendous blessing to me and my family and was essential in obtaining my degree.  Now, as a volunteer on the CDF board, I am thrilled to see young clinicians receive the fruits of this board’s volunteer efforts.  Through the Rita Purcell-Robertson and David H. Narburgh scholarships, future clinicians receive support to help their dreams come true.  It is essential to support our future clinicians as they too will someday be in a role to support those newly entering the field as well as families and communities in need.  

Compassion and empathy for others are important for success in any organization.  I believe in what the Communication Disorders Foundation of Virginia stands for, and I love being a part of paying it forward.  While facilitating a stronger sense of community, volunteering with the CDF has enabled me to expand my personal and professional network, gain confidence, learn new skills, take on new challenges, and have fun!   Volunteering should begin where you feel the most passion.  My story as a volunteer and advocate began with my son and has led me to where I am today.  Let your love for the profession create a positive change in your community.  I encourage you to look beyond yourselves and consider the role you can play in serving others.   By giving back, you can reap countless rewards. 

Elizabeth Edens M.S., CCC-SLP
CDF of VA, Board Trustee
Arc- South of the James, President
VCU Center for Family Involvement, Family Navigator

Each one should use whatever gift he/she has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  1 Peter 4:10

 Elizabeth and Dustin

Elizabeth and Dustin

The "Interprofessional" CDF

These contemporary terms—interprofessional practice (IPP), interprofessional collaboration (IPC), and interprofessional education (IPE)—are making a growing impact on what we do in our 2018 SLP and AUD practices, on how we look at and value working with other professionals, and on how we educate future SLPs and AUDs. The word interprofessional is replacing multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary to draw attention to the human, the individual, the “professional,” not so much to the discipline(s). It is always the professional who makes a difference for those with communication, vestibular, and swallowing needs.  

In borrowing from the interprofessional focus, the CDF calls your attention to the numerous causes so many individuals support from year to year: campaigns that raise money for charities; for our local churches, fellowships, temples, and mosques; for art, music, dance, and theatre; for local school drives and benefits; for sports teams, clubs, and organizations; for cancer, dementia, and other health care research. As donators, we trust professionals to manage our donations to the best interests of those in need.

The CDF is made up of a group of volunteers, all professionals at one stage or another, and all committed to the two professions we love: audiology and speech-language pathology. We volunteer to serve on the CDF to raise money for scholarships and awards, for current and future AUDs and SLPs, investing in their professional futures. We reach out, in a spirit of collaboration. WILL YOU make a donation to the CDF?  WILL YOU ask other professionals with whom you work to make a donation? WILL YOU help us grow our contributions in these summer months? Will you COLLABORATE with us as donors? PRACTICE stewardship with us as givers to the future? EDUCATE others about the Communication Disorders Foundation of Virginia?

Visit our newly revised website at and give whatever you can. No amount, however small or large, is without tremendous value when it’s given to help others and in a spirit of (inter)professional collaboration.       


Brenda Seal, CDF President

CDF Celebrates SHAV’s 60th with a Banner Year Auction!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the auction. Your donations were wonderful, earning us a little more than $6000. We’ll donate $5,000 to scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year, and offer another $1,000 to next year’s poster winners. We also appreciate the University gift baskets, bags, and treats that increase the auction proceeds, and the special talents of all the artists who contributed personal works. The CDF is all about honoring achievement and awarding excellence of current and future professionals. Every gift, every bid, and every purchase is reworked to benefit students. And, of course, Verbalina’s 15-year retirement and ClaraTee’s debut added special moments to the auction excitement (see their conversation recorded below)!


Welcome the CDF's newest ambassador: ClaraTee


ClaraTee is CDF’s version of the word, clarity.  Depending on your special path in this field, you may seek clarity of speech, clarity of language, clarity of hearing.  Or you may strive for clarity in teaching, in learning, in research, or perhaps in administration.  It’s a common thread all of us pursue.  ClaraTee promises to live up to her symbolic name in the work she will soon begin. 

Two Dolls Talking ....While the act of eavesdropping is generally considered to be impolite and improper, there are those occasions when it serves a worthwhile, informative purpose. This appears to be one of them. It happened at the Williamsburg DoubleTree on Thursday, March 22, right there at the CDF Silent and Live Auction just a few minutes before the festivities began. As I wandered around the tables, looking at all of the auction items on display, then counting the many gift baskets lined up on the edge of the stage, I heard that familiar whispered word that tends to grab one’s attention: “Pssst!” On seeing who uttered the word and to whom it was directed, I came to realize that I was about to observe an historic event, a once-in-a-lifetime happening that would never be known to others unless I, the witness, told someone else. Dutifully, therefore, I hereby describe for you what I saw and heard, to the best of my recollection. 

The scene: Verbalina, the straw ambassadorial doll, relaxing on a chair next to the podium while awaiting her retirement ceremony; Verbalina, the CDF maven well-known for her coolness and savvy. And ClaraTee, the youthful, soon-to-be replacement, crouching on a shelf inside the podium, listening, wondering what was about to happen. 

The conversation: 

VB: Pssst! 

CT: Who’s that? 

VB: It’s Verbalina, your predecessor, the one who paved the way for you in this scholarship-funding business. I know who you are. You’re ClaraTee, the new CDF doll being groomed to take my place. I’m here to wish you great success in your new role! 

CT: Thanks a lot. I must admit that I’m nervous. The thought of stepping into your big shoes is daunting. You’ve done such a good job of attracting auction bids for your time and representation each year, every year, for fifteen years, raising over $3000 for CDF causes! I am in awe of what you’ve accomplished. And, quite frankly, downright scared. 2

VB: I understand your feelings completely, ClaraTee. Why? Because I felt the same way when Rita Purcell-Robertson introduced me to all those SHAV and CDF folks at my first auction back in 2003. But the butterflies in my stomach soon disappeared when I began to meet and network with my gracious hosts at Longwood University that first year. And, after that, well, you just wouldn’t believe how much fun I’ve had traveling around the commonwealth, visiting SLPs and audiologists, professors and students, joining them in their professional as well as recreational endeavors. It’s been a blast! I wouldn’t trade those years for anything! 

CT: Wow!! That does sound like fun. Maybe this work won’t be as uncomfortable as I thought it might be. Even so, you do know that I’m much younger than you, Verbalina. Without your maturity and life experience, will I be able to meet others’ expectations of me? Will they trust me to do my job well? 

VB: Of course, they will. In fact, it’s quite appropriate that, as I retire, a much younger emissary has been selected to take this position. As a key spokesperson for CDF scholarships and poster session awards, you represent youth serving the needs of youth! You represent fresh thinking, new ideas, and hope. Indeed, you are the face of the future, the future of our professions. 

CT: Okay, I get it! But now you’re making me nervous again. That sounds like a heavy responsibility. 

VB: Well, it is important. No doubt about it. But there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. You’ll be working with the most wonderful people in the world. They’re congenial, reassuring, helpful. They’ll hold your hand, pat your back, answer your questions, give you suggestions, validate your feelings, and give you encouragement. They’ll smile. They’ll tell you what a good job you’re doing. It is no coincidence that those individuals who will choose to become your caretakers and hosts are, by their very nature as well as their training, exactly the kind of individuals you need the most to guide you on this journey. 

CT: Phew. What a relief! Now I feel better again. Actually, I’m really getting excited now, excited with anticipation. What you’re telling me is that these individuals will be my colleagues, my friends. How fortunate I am to have this opportunity to work and play and serve--all the while having fun and being supported. A dream job, to say the least. So I’m going to be okay, more than okay. But what about you, Verbalina? Where will you be spending your retirement days? 

VB: Right back in the place where I started this odyssey: Longwood University. I have traveled full-circle with CDF, and I couldn’t be happier about spending my retirement with the great Longwood people who gave me my start. Like you, ClaraTee, I, too, am fortunate. Fortunate beyond words. 

CT: Good for you, Verbalina. I’m so glad we had this conversation. It’s just what I needed to help me start my new job with a confident, positive attitude. I thank you for your wise words and for all of the excellent work you’ve done over the years. 

VB: You’re welcome, ClaraTee. Good luck to you. I’ll be thinking of you in the days and years ahead. 

And that’s the way it happened. A conversation for posterity. 

Judy Rassi, reporter
Peggy Agee, archivist

Verbalina Announces Retirement

Get ready!  Verbalina, the straw doll first introduced to SHAV Conference goers by Rita Purcell-Robertson at the CDF auction in 2003, has decided to retire.  As you likely know, Verbalina has been a hard worker, dedicating her time and energy to our field, always doing her part in raising funds for CDF scholarships and awards.  Understandably, the rigorous demands of this important work have taken their toll.  After devoting so much of her career visiting and networking with those who were fortunate enough to offer the winning bid for a year’s worth of her delightful company, Verbalina looks forward to this well-deserved time of rest.  She is quite tired, even a bit worn out.  And so it is that she plans to step down from her ambassadorial role and take it easy.  Please join us on the CDF Board in wishing her well.


This retirement, of course, leads to the inevitable question:  Is there someone waiting in the wings to take Verbalina’s place?  Well, yes, there is.  For now, though, we are keeping the identity of this individual a well-guarded secret!  Here are a few clues:  she’s a she; she’s a doll; she’s cute and soft and cuddly; she’s loveable; and she’s younger than her predecessor.  That’s it for now!  To find out her name and actually see her in person, be sure to attend the CDF Live Auction at the 2018 Sixtieth Anniversary SHAV Conference.  And, while you’re there, please offer your bid on this brand new representative of the next generation.

—Judy Rassi, CDF Contributor

Writing Thank You Notes

I think it’s like saying “yes ma’am,” “no sir,” and holding the door for older folks and women—they’re social behaviors fading into obscurity. It occurred to me recently when a college student at Gallaudet held the door open for me, and I said and signed “THANK YOU” to his back, he didn’t catch it. Maybe he didn’t need to be thanked, but I wish I had been more visible in letting him know I appreciated it. People do so many kind things just because they’re part of daily routines, without requirements for formal thank-yous.

The CDF Trustees are always asking SHAV members for their kindly contributions to support the CDF by giving—to the annual auction, to the scholarship funds, to nominate colleagues so we can give awards. In past years, we have thanked you by listing your names in the winter SAG. This year, Judy Rassi directs your attention to our CDF website, for an acknowledgement of your gifts and our thanks. She also “thanks” Verbalina as she retires, for giving tirelessly to so many of us SHAV-goers over the years. And I’m adding a literal and “figurative” gesture here [signing, saying, and writing THANK YOUto the CDF Trustees, to the SHAV Board, and to the management firm, for all that you give without ever expecting a formal thank-you.

—Brenda Seal, President, CDF of Virginia