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Speaking well for six decades

Local Toastmasters celebrates anniversary

Toastmasters Club #1123 meets every Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Parkland. Photo courtesy Paul Freeman, Toastmasters International

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Public speaking is not easy.

"I'd rather be fighting the Taliban than doing public speaking," a soldier told John Dawson, a noted public speaker trainer.

The soldier's comment is indicative of what many may think when they must speak publically. But if they must, then Toastmasters International is an organization worth considering.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord community is invited to learn more about the organization at the Toastmasters Club #1123 60th anniversary Thursday, April 26, from 7-9 p.m. in the Fireside Room of Trinity Lutheran Church.

At the turn of the 20th century, Ralph Smedley saw a need to help individuals speak well, conduct meetings and plan programs.  Dedicated to helping people overcome their fear of public speaking and develop leadership skills, Smedley's Toastmasters Clubs grew to global importance. He created the name "Toastmasters Club," because the word "toastmaster" described the person who gave toasts at banquets.

In April 1958, Toastmaster Club #1123 formed at Trinity Lutheran Church on the Pacific Lutheran University campus. From that point on, the club has continued to meet rent-free at the church.

This year marks the 60th year that the club, now called Thursday Nite Live, has convened in the same location.

"The whole purpose of the club is to build people up, (and) make them more confident speaking in front of others," wrote club member Adam Griffith, in an email.  "The club offers ways to make presentations better, never to tear anyone down."

For some who have served or are serving at JBLM, the club has been a gift.

"My membership in Toastmasters has affected me both personally and professionally," wrote Margarete Campbell, a retired JBLM Department of Defense civilian employee.

An almost four-decades-long member of Toastmasters Club #1123, Campbell initially joined because she wanted to learn how to effectively communicate with people in all situations.

"I credit Toastmasters with giving me the confidence, courage and skills to succeed professionally in a wide variety of exciting assignments over those years," she explained via email. "Some of the important skills that helped me to succeed were the ability to clearly communicate information as a briefer, writer, and action officer at all levels; also, (it helped me to) lead meetings and teams and to train individuals.

In contrast to Campbell, Tech. Sgt. John Jones, who serves at McChord Field, has been a member of the local club for less than a year. His experience with the club has helped him prepare for his upcoming transition from the Air Force to the civilian workforce. 

"Being a member of the Thursday Nite Live Toastmaster group has changed my life for the better in many ways," Jones wrote in an email. "I can honestly say the feedback that I have received from my speeches and the mentorship that you get from this club's members helped me on job interviews. I have already landed a job." 

Toastmasters Club #1123 60th anniversary, 7-9 p.m., Thursday, April 26, Fireside Room, Trinity Lutheran Church, 12115 Park Ave. S., Tacoma, for more information contact Griffith at

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