Monthly Archives: February 2018

First Oakville First Again Twice!

Fei Sun won the Toastmasters International Area 87 International Speech Contest! Competing against a formidable group of competitors from area clubs, Fei, a relative newcomer to Toastmasters won the day with her personal story about getting and giving “virtual hugs”.Fei

Using excellent gestures that emphasized the highlights of her speech, Fei reached out to the crowd and allowed her voice to ring out. Obviously the judges liked what they heard and saw in her dramatic performance.

Marion West, also from First Oakville Toastmasters took first place in the Toastmasters International Area 87 Evaluation Contest. A perennial winner of evaluation contests Marion had close competition with our own MarionSharon Jenkins taking third place.

Both winners now go onto the Division D contests on March 21 at the South Common Community Centre in Mississauga.Sharon




A win there will see them compete at the District 86 contests at the Spring conference in April at the Hilton Meadowvale Mississauga.

First Oakville Toastmasters has been producing winning competitors for over 60 years. Learning how to be a speech winner takes time and effort but at First Oakville our members know they have a supportive club behind them all the way.

Cheryl Etherinton, from First Oakville, also competed in the International Speech Contest. First Oakville members worked as judges, timers, ballot collectors and our own club president Rebecca Valero was Evaluation Speech contest chair.


We learn best in moments of enjoyment. – Ralph Smedley

The 2017-2018 executive has been diligent to create meetings that spark education, collaboration and the “F” word, FUN!!  According to Scott Christopher, author of the book The Levity Effect:  It Pays to Lighten Up, he discusses how fun in the workplace can increase profits and employee camaraderie, lower absenteeism and reduce workplace conflict.  It’s easy to draw the same conclusion that while Toastmasters is a not-for-profit organization, the same can be achieved at our meetings.

Ralph Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters believed, “We learn best in moments of enjoyment.”  Finding the right balance between fun and camaraderie while reaching our goals is exactly what we have been focusing in on at First Oakville Toastmasters.

Last night Allan our Chair chose the theme, Tropical Adventures, and together with the help of the executive, we converted our meeting space into a Tropical Paradise.  It set the tone for the evening and was a nice break from the Winter Blahs.

We had an evening of many firsts.  Veronica did an outstanding job introducing the Chair.  She did her research and set the tone for a nice warm welcome.  Firas really hit a home run with the presentation of a Toast to Famous Canadian to George St. Pierre.  He delivered it without notes and with confidence and determination.  We cannot wait to hear your Ice Breaker in March!

Marcela delivered her first Jest and had our members laughing.  Our Table Topics session was inspired by our Friends at Stockholm International Toastmasters in Sweden.   Last night our Table Topics participants were asked to share a Tropical Adventure Tall Tale using 5 randomly selected emojis.    Our 4 participants did an excellent job.  Alonso shared his story about how he accidentally kissed a Sea Turtle thinking it was his wife.  Our guest Kathy shared a story about how she snuck some candies to Bruce Springsteen in Jamaica.  Firas shared a story about his travels in Thailand, and Samantha shared her story about Snorkelling in Guatemala and those pesky snorkeling-polluters.   Congratulations to our brave impromptu speakers!

We had an amazing lineup of speakers last night.  Vlad delivered his Ice Breaker and it was an excellent start to his public speaking journey!  Tanouja delivered her second speech from the Pathways Program.  Tanouja has officially progressed the furthest in Pathways.  Will she be the first member to earn her Level 1 award?  Stay tuned.  Robert G. entertained us with a very humorous speech.  Congrats to Robert for winning Best Speaker of the Evening.

Tropical Winners

Best Evaluator: Samantha Best Speaker: Robert Best Table Topics: Alonso

It was very encouraging to see so many new members participating and succeeding in their roles.   If you are a new member and you have an upcoming role, the most helpful resource is the “white book”, An Introduction to your Toastmaster Experience that is included in your welcome kit.  This book was compiled by Toastmaster Peter West on behalf of the Mentoring Committee (2012) and provides every detailed piece of information for every role you may need to fill.  Read it.


See you next week.



Have you registered for the Area 87 International Speech and Evaluation Contests?

The Area 87 Contest is in 10 days!  A great contest includes an organized Contest Chair, excellent judges, contest functionaries, prepared speakers, and of course an energetic cheering crowd.  Speakers feed off the energy in the audience.  Let’s support our fellow members!

This is your chance to cheer on your fellow First Oakville Toastmasters as they compete to win their way up to the Division D level.

Fei Sun & Cheryl Etherington will be competing in the International Speech Contest and Marion West & Sharon Jenkins will be competing in the Evaluation Contest.

The contests take place on Wednesday, February 21st, 2018.
Doors open at 6:00 pm, Contest starts at 6:30 pm
The mandatory Contestants’ briefings will be at 6:15pm
Location:  West End Studio Theatre 1109 North Service Road, Oakville

All contestants need to be registered on Eventbrite in order to receive free admission.

Audience members and cheering sections need to register.  Payment will be collected at the venue the day of the contest.  $10.00 with Eventbrite Registration and $15.00 at the door without Eventbrite registration.

Register here:

Light refreshments will be provided.

Let’s cheer for First Oakville Toastmasters!!!!  wanted_


61 Never Looked So Good

It was a spectacular evening as First Oakville Toastmasters celebrated their annual Charter Party.

61 never looked so good.  The room was spectacular, and the crowd was dressed to impressed.  There was a lovely mix of former members, current members, some very brand new members and a few that will be joining our club shortly.

The Charter Party committee followed the long tradition of having the head table piped in so beautifully by Mike Cuffe, and with what is called, “paying the piper” with a shot of whiskey.   This tradition really took my breath away.  Literally, the whiskey was strong enough to give me that extra “je ne sais quoi” to get through the evening of emceeing.

We were so pleased to be amongst the company of our District 86 Director, Cathy Hershell, DTM, Kristina Johnston, DTM, Program Quality Director District 86 and Lou Mulligan, Area 87 Director.

We were also pleased to have Councillor Ralph Robinson from the Town of Oakville join us for this auspicious occasion.

We were also very fortunate to have a number of Past Presidents in attendance:

Marion West, Peter West, Dale Fisher, Hal Shaw, John Smissen, Jennifer Czerniak, Linda Rossi, Adrian Scott and Mark Molder.

While meeting locations, standing committees, and roles have changed over years, one important thing remains the same and that is that First Oakville Toastmasters is a group of fun-loving, professional individuals from diverse backgrounds who take the Toastmasters educational program and our growth seriously.  We have been supporting and developing each other for over 60 years with deep respect for the Toastmaster core values which are integrity, respect, service, and excellence.

It was an evening of looking back with gratitude at our rich history and looking forward with vision and determination as we continue to build our club’s legacy because after all, WE ARE 1st Oakville Toastmasters.

The main event of the evening was the second round of our club level International Speech Contest.

Congratulations to all our contestants:  Cheryl Etherington, Allan Osborne, Fei Sun & John Smissen.   It was a very competitive performance for all 4 members that competed.  It was particularly remarkable and noticeable how much the speeches had improved and catapulted in delivery and stage presence since the first round of the contest earlier in January.

A big congratulations to Fei Sun for winning first place and the best of luck moving forward in the Area Contest on February 21st, 2018.  Congratulations to John Smissen for placing second.

A big thank you to our Contest Chair, Adrian Scott and Chief  Judge, Linda Rossi and to our contest judges.   Thank you also to all our contest officers:  Roy Campbell, Luke Jin, Tanouja Rama, Samantha Tam, Rosa Rodriguez and Vlad Gappasov.

This year our club was very lucky to have generous sponsors to help support the event.

A big thank you to councilor Ralph Robinson,  Hal Shaw from Intelligent Office & Cheryl Etherington, CGA, CPA Accounting.

And of course, our door prize duo Alonso Mendizabal and Cheryl Etherington collected a number of generous door prizes from our sponsors:  Rapid Aid, Taste of Colombia, Your Health Wellness Centre, Cedarhouse Spa, Marishka Glynne, Very Valero, & Hal Shaw.

The Annual Charter Party is a very unique and phenomenal tradition that has been carried out year after year and it was an honour to be the Chair & emcee for this event.   It would not have been a success without the 2018 Charter Party Committee, also known as the Party Planners Extraordinaire:

Cheryl Etherington, John Smissen, Alonso Mendizabal, Samantha Tam, Allan Osborne, Mark Molder, and Linda Rossi.

Thank you to Peter West for your remarkable attention to detail and catching some phenomenal moments in pictures.  View these spectacular photo moments here!

Finally, I would like to recognize some of our newest members who attended and supported this event Veronica Costa, Vlad Gappasov, Roy Campbell, Firas Farah, Marcela Placha, Rebecca Cao (joining soon) and recent guest, Lina Wu.   Joining Toastmasters is not just about working on your public speaking, it’s about sharpening your networking skills, building friendship and being part of a community, and I think we did just that.

Cheers to First Oakville Toastmasters!  61 never looked so good!

Rebecca Valero
Club President 2017-2018
First Oakville Toastmasters Club #2245