Spring 2010 District 83 Conference

The Ramada Conference Center in East Hanover was the setting for the workshops, contests, and speakers that comprised the District 83 2010 Spring Experience. Running from 8:30am to 8:30pm on Saturday 5/15 and 7:45am to noon on Sunday 5/16, keynote speakers included 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking David Brooks, Toastmasters International Director Heath Suddleson, DTM, and News 12 New Jersey Emmy winner Walt Kane.

D83 2010 
    Spring Conference
John Luszcz, VP-Education, Steve Lord, Sgt-at-Arms, attend the Saturday District Business Meeting.
(photo courtesy Dawn Maxemow, CC,ALB)

Never been to a District Conference? You can't beat the combination of inspiring speakers, exciting contests, information-packed workshops, and incredible networking opportunities. The Fall 2010 conference in November will be here before you know it! Sign up today!

Club Elections Nearing!

Every Spring, Toastmaster clubs all over the world begin the process of electing officers for the coming year which starts on July 1st. You can read about each officer's responsibilities here: Club Officers Roles   Hackettstown Toastmasters will announce its 2010-2011 officer nominations at its May 20th meeting. Elections will be held at the meeting on June 17th.

Spring Speech & Evaluation Contest

Thursday, February 18th 2010 made a lot of Hackettstown Toastmasters members nervous. That's because they were competing in the club's first International Speech Contest OR its first Evaluation Contest OR they were helping to run the event!

Bill Watras
Bill Watras, club President, makes a point during his winning speech about priorities in your life.

Twice every year the club provides contests to challenge its members to grow and to watch and learn from others who have been working at the Toastmasters program. Members also learn the organizational and delegation skills needed to prepare for and run the event.

Spring 2010 Evaluation Contest
Michael Misertino, club VP-Public Relations and Evaluation contest winner, poses with Cindy Trepko, President of Flanders @ 5 Toastmasters club and Evaluation contest test speaker, and Dennis Quirk, Evaluation contest runner-up.

Watras and Misertino will move on to the Area 23 Contests which will be held on Monday, March 15th, 2010 beginning at 6:30 pm sharp at GlaxoSmithKline, 1500 Littleton Road (Route 202) opposite Sylvan Way, in Parsippany. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served. RSVP to TM83Steve at LordKnows dot us. See also the District 83 website: www.Toastmasters83.org.

Farewell Captain Groggy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009 was Jim Birnbaum's last meeting as a member of Hackettstown Toastmasters. Jim is retiring from Mars and will be moving. He and his (in)famous alter ego "Cap'n Groggy" wil be missed!


Toastmasters & Toys for Tots - Perfect Together

Charlie Brown's restaurant in Hackettstown might seem an unusual place for a Toastmasters meeting. But that's exactly where we gathered for our December 3rd meeting.

Toys for Tots
Jim Birnbaum, VP-Education, Bill Watras, President, Joe Mathesius, Treasurer, and Julia Bird, VP-Membership pose with the toys ready for the Toys for Tots drive.
(photo courtesy John Luszcz)

Prepared speeches, impromptu speaking, and feedback were the normal order of business. The background noise was a challenge for our quieter speakers but one they may someday need to face. While the theme of the meeting was "BRRRRRRR!!", there were warm friendships and hot topics of discussion.

Consider giving yourself or someone you love the gift of building self-confidence this Holiday. Toastmasters is all about human transformation. Come see what it's all about. A full year of Toastmasters is only $98. The speaking improvements, self-confidence, and friendships last a lifetime.

Jim Birnbaum Named 2008-2009
Toastmaster of the Year

At the District 83 Conference this past Saturday, November 14, 2009, Immediate Past District Governor Paul Scharf, DTM, named the District Toastmaster of the Year for 2008-2009. It is none other than Hackettstown Toastmasters' own VP-Education, Jim "Cap'n Groggy" Birnbaum!

Jim Birnbaum
Jim Birnbaum becomes the D83 TotY 2008-2009
(photo courtesy Robert Bugai)

In announcing the award Paul noted that Jim, who was Area 23 Governor last year, "Ran the Spring Conference like silk. He said 'yes' to become the Spring Conference chair and Hail & Farewell registration chair in two seconds, and he did a great job at both. He has never hesitated to help other Toastmasters." Jim's Area was a President's Distinguished Area and he was instrumental in chartering (and mentoring) our own Hackettstown Toastmasters club.

Being selected District Toastmaster of the Year out of over 3,000 members is an incredible honor. When you see Jim, congratulate him on his award and give him a hearty "Arrrrrrr!"

2009 International Convention

Toastmasters International Convention was held in Mahantucket, Connecticut August 12-15th and VP-Education Jim Birnbaum and Sergeant-at-Arms Steve Lord were there! It was the first convention for the Hackettstown homeboys so naturally they both attended the First Timers session.

First TimersHackettstown's SAA, Steve Lord, (left) and VP-E, Jim Birnbaum, (right) display rapt attentiveness to International President Jana Barnhill as she welcomes them to the 2009 International Convention

Four long days later, the tired but happy twosome drove home having seen a new World Champion of Public Speaking selected, a new International President elected, half a dozen educational sessions and speakers, and met fellow Toastmasters from all over the world!

Fall 2009 District 83 Conference

Maybe we kant spel gud but we shur kan

If you missed the Fall Conference, maybe it was because you couldn't find the "Registeration" table? Well, probably not! Events were well organized and easy to find. It was like an early Thanksgiving to see the District 83 Toastmasters "family" gathered around the table. In our case, a big, BIG, B-I-G table! Every Toastmaster should attend a District Conference at least once - how can you know what you're missing until you try? C'mon! Give it a try! Spring Conference is on May 15th & 16th. Send in your "registeration" form now!

Drat! Foiled Again!

The District 83 Traveling Gavel was wrested from Hackettstown's control on Thursday, July 30th, a mere 16 days after its capture from NYLIM Toastmasters. A nasty swarm of Toastmasters from Carpe Diem Toastmasters in Parsippany assumed roles in the

Hackettstown's VP-E, Jim Birnbaum, and President, Bill Watras (left) begrudgingly "offer" the Traveling Gavel to Uday Bhoopalam, President, Raju Nath, Secretary, Hualing Zhong, VP-M and VP-PR, and Ibrahim Gulam, Sgt-at-Arms and Webmaster, all of Carpe Diem Toastmasters

Hackettstown meeting and, at its conclusion, glommed onto the gavel and escaped into the night. The magnificent mallet had once again served its purpose of bringing two District 83 clubs into contact and fostering (no relation to Australia's lager) new friendships and new meeting ideas.

Gavel Goes Galloping

The District 83 Traveling Gavel may be 6 inches longer than it was just the other day. At the conclusion of the NYLIM Toastmasters meeting on July 14, 2009 a kerfuffle broke out and the Meandering Mallet was subjected to a tug-o-war. Stalwart NYLIM members refused to yield and marauding Hackettstown Toastmasters became physical.

Hackettstown's VP-E, Jim Birnbaum, and President, Bill Watras (left) dispute possession of the gavel with NYLIM's President, Don Osmanski, and member John Peterson, (right). Lois Steward, IPP Hackettstown and VP-E NYLIM is caught in the middle

Tempers had flared earlier when Hackettstown VP-E Jim Birnbaum, serving as Topicmaster of the NYLIM meeting, called NYLIM President Don Osmanski a milksop for going 59 seconds on a Table Topic. Later, Hackettstown President Bill Watras, serving as Ah-Counter, cited NYLIM member John Peterson for 137 ahs and the benches cleared. Caught in the middle of the Great Gavel Grab was Lois Steward, Immediate past President of the Hackettstown club AND current VP-Education of the NYLIM club. In the melee Steward was "hammered" senseless and trampled to death underfoot. NYLIM Toastmasters is accepting applications for VP-Education.

We're Distinguished Just 2½ Months After Charter!

"...it is too much of a stretch for a new club to make distinguished in its first year..." or so said Mary Neff, DTM, LGET of District 46 when Hackettstown Toastmasters first announced its intentions to be a Toastmasters Distinguished club in January, 2008.

True for others perhaps but Hackettstown had a long birthing period and exceptional grit! Thanks to 5 educational awards and 4 new members since April 16th, Hackettstown Toastmasters reached Distinguished status on June 29th, 2009 - just in time!

Jim Birnbaum Steve Lord Bill Watras

The Distinguished Club Program monitors and measures our club's achievements in educational achievements and membership. Hackettstown Toastmasters won't be resting. Plans are already afoot to become a President's Distinguished club in 2009-2010!

Woo Hoo!! We're Official!

Hackettstown Toastmasters president Lois Steward's bold proposal that the newly chartered club will become Distinguished by June 30 was greeted with huzzahs from the membership. There were shouts of assent and much pounding on tables. Three cheers erupted for the club's ideals. Membership was reduced to tears. There were more huzzahs and pandemonium ensued.

Toastmasters District 83 Governor Paul Scharf, DTM displays Hackettstown's official charter as chapter President Lois Steward looks on. ~ May, 7, 2009

That may not be an exact account of what actually ocurred but there was a lot of spirit in the room as District 83 Governor, Distinguished Toastmaster Paul Scharf presented Hackettstown Toastmasters with its charter certificate from Toastmasters International. Members were inspired by Bill Watras' tenth speech, completing the requirements for his Competent Communicator award. They also heard new member Dennis Quirk give his first speech in the program, the Icebreaker. They were joined in their celebration by former District official Peggy Neubig, DTM who generously donated a significant amount of Toastmasters program material to the new club. There were participation and attendance awards and pizza capped the event. Don't miss the next exciting event! Visit Hackettstown Toastmasters next meeting!

4/16/09 - We Did It!!!

We Did It!

At our April 2, 2009 meeting the last of our needed 23 members were enrolled. As of April 16, 2009 Hackettstown Toastmasters is chartered!

The hard work of many of our members was needed to pull this off - and everyone stepped up! We're planning a celebration! District Governor Paul Scharf will present us with our charter at our May 7th meeting. It's never too late to join in the fun - visit Hackettstown Toastmasters and give yourself the gift of clear communication.

Toastmasters - We're Not Just Talk!

On Thursday, December 18, 2008, members of Hackettstown Toastmasters enjoyed their regular meeting plus a holiday party. But instead of exchanging gifts, each member brought a toy to share with the Hackettstown PBA's Toys for Tots program.

Toys for 
L to R: Lois Steward - President; Steve Lord - VP Education; Jim Birnbaum - Sergeant at Arms; Bill Watras - VP Membership

Sgt. Boer of the Hackettstown police met the club officers plus member Virginia Mills in the parking lot of police headquarters and "took custody" of the toys. "Toastmasters is not just a place for learning communications skills but also for practicing leadership skills," says Lois Steward, club President.

Hackettstown Table Topics Contest Winners

Thursday, September 4, 2008 saw a new experience for members of Hackettstown Toastmasters...a contest! Members watched a video of the Fall, 2006 District 46 Table Topics contest and tried their hands at judging, then compared their conclusions with the actual results. Lesson? It's not easy being a judge!

    2008 Table Topics Winners
to R: 2nd place Newcomer - Rich Schweighardt, 1st place Newcomer - Bill Watras, 2nd place Experienced -Max Diego, 1st place Experienced - Joe Mathesius
photo: Paul Baker

Then the members participated in their own contest with fellow Toastmasters from other clubs acting as judges. Not so easy under even "simulated" pressure! But more "learning by doing" as is the Toastmaster way! Congrats to all who participated!

Hackettstown Captures the Traveling Gavel!

On Tuesday, August 12, 2008, a night that will live in infamy, 3 barbarians from upstart Hackettstown Toastmasters, prospective club #1140672 in Warren County New Jersey, assaulted the assembled members and guests of Brunswick Toastmasters of North Brunswick and made off with the cherished, chiseled tchotchke that is the District 83 Traveling Gavel. Phew! Try saying that five times fast! You'll run out of saliva halfway through!

Traveling Gavel

Sergeant-at-Arms Jim Birnbaum (who moonlights as Area 23 Governor), VP-Membership Bill Watras, and VP-Education Steve Lord made the one hour scenic drive down to North Brunswick from the boonies of Northwestern NJ in order to be the first club to "capture" the illustrious icon of Toastmasters Triumphant. In true Toastmasters fashion, the three Hackettstownians were made welcome and served as Timer, a Speech Evaluator and as a walk-on role in one of the speech presentations.

They watched jealously as the Brunswick club enrolled a guest as a member on the spot (Hackettstown, an open club, needs 10 more members to charter). During the final moments of the meeting they shared comments on their learnings, on the best parts of the meeting and, naturally, on opportunities to improve.


The victory celebration was short-lived! On Thursday, August 21, four members of Tower & Bridge Toastmasters wrested control of the meandering mallet from the tender embrace of Hackettstown. Alas! There is weeping and gnashing of teeth in Hackettstown tonight!

Hackettstown TM Member Appointed Area Governor!

Jim Birnbaum

Hackettstown Toastmasters Sergeant at Arms Jim Birnbaum has been appointed Area 23 Governor for the 2008-2009 Toastmasters year by Division B Governor-elect Barbara Krasner. Area 23 includes 7 Toastmasters clubs in the local vicinity. Jim will help each club to attain its goals and achieve success for its members.

Hackettstown TM Website Wins Honorable Mention!

Website Award

Hackettstown Toastmasters' website won an 'Honorable Mention' award at the Spring District 46 Conference in May. Competition was fierce with long-established clubs having some excellent websites. At the time of entry, our website was only 2½ months old!

Hackettstown TM Member wins District Evaluation Contest!

Steve Lord
Photo by Joe Shuler,
D46 Photographer

At the Toastmasters District 46 Conference on Saturday, May 17, 2008 Hackettstown TM VP-Education Steve Lord won 1st place in the Speech Evaluation contest.

In a Speech Evaluation contest, contestants listen to a short speech and, after five minutes preparation, must deliver a two to three minute critique.