Auckland Deaf Society remembers Friends of the Deaf

Auckland Deaf Society remembers Friends of the Deaf to celebrate Include a Charity Week 6th – 12th September

As one of the 60 Charities represented in the 2015 Include a Charity Week campaign, Auckland Deaf Society will be recognising how legacy gifts have contributed to the Society by hosting a story telling evening to ensure the memories of those who gave, lives on.

A recent project to electronically archive paper records of historical bequests has unearthed some interesting and touching historical anecdotes about people whose generosity was fundamental in formative stages of the Society’s 75 year.

One such example is that of Doris Aickin who requested a bequest be made to honour her late husband. Doris’ story will be shared at a special event hosted by Auckland Deaf Society to commemorate the legacies tomorrow at 6pm (Friday, September 11th) at the Auckland Deaf Society Building at 164 Balmoral Road, Balmoral.

The Society owes much to the generosity, in the form of bequests, of previous generations of Deaf Aucklanders and to a philanthropic group of ardent hearing supporters known as the “Friends of the Deaf”.

In the pre-telecommunications era of the Society’s inception in 1937, weekly gatherings were the only way Deaf Aucklanders could connect, socialise, plan future gatherings and experience a sense of community. Quickly outgrowing a succession of venues the need for a permanent home was apparent. A newspaper advertisement in the personal column resulted in the formation of the “Friends of the Deaf” who campaigned, alongside Deaf community protagonists to fundraise, eventually resulting in the purchase of the iconic Auckland Deaf Society premises at 164 Balmoral Road, which is still the ‘home of Auckland’s Deaf Community today.

 “It is important to ensure the contribution these people made, lives on in the way we support Deaf Aucklanders today, and in the future,” says Auckland Deaf Society President, John Schisckha.

“There will always be a need for a place for Deaf people to come and connect and celebrate their culture and language,” he says.

This was a point highlighted in the Human Right Commission’s 2013 report of the Sign Language enquiry, called A New Era in the Right to Sign.

Like many charities, Auckland Deaf Society does not receive any government funding and is dependent on fundraising, grants and the generosity of individuals to help provide funds to continue to serve Auckland’s estimated 2000 Deaf residents. In addition Auckland Deaf Society makes a considerable contribution to the promotion and preservation of NZSL (New Zealand Sign Language), an official language of New Zealand by offering NZSL classes, and the opportunity for NZSL learners to socialise and polish their skills with native signers in a living language community environment.

Mr Schischka says; “We need more members of, not just the Auckland Deaf community, but the public in general to consider leaving funds to the Auckland Deaf Society.

“Many people think a gift in a will has to be a large amount, but if more Kiwis included smaller amounts for a cause they can empathise with, that would give charities such as Auckland Deaf Society the capacity to change lives. For us that means we can ensure Deaf people, their families, and those who are learning sign language always have place to learn about Deaf culture and engage as a community .” he says.