Melanie Renaud kneels next to young patient, newly outfitted with hearing aidUWindsor student Melanie Renaud helped to fit patients with hearing aids during a trip last summer to Guatemala.

Student honoured to share gift of hearing

Bringing the gift of hearing to people who live with hearing loss helped a UWindsor student see first-hand the difference made every day by a charity supported on campuses across North America.

Melanie Renaud, a senior student majoring in digital journalism and communications, spent a week in Guatemala in June 2019 with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which provides hearing aids and healthcare services. She joined a team that fitted more than 800 patients with hearing aids.

“We take hearing for granted,” says Renaud. “Being part of the process, seeing the difference it can make — people can talk with family members, attend school, get an education, a job … it brought tears to my eyes because I knew this work was changing lives.”

She recalls fitting a little boy and watching him light up as he gained for the first time the ability to hear.

“It was such a powerful moment,” Renaud says. “He gave me a card to say thank you and I have it framed at home. It’s a day I won’t ever forget; that was a big one for me.”

She first got involved when she joined the UWindsor chapter of the Delta Zeta sorority, which raises funds to support the foundation. After serving as the chapter president, she was hired as an intern in the sorority’s national philanthropy office, which led to her being the only Canadian on the mission to Guatemala.

Renaud continues to solicit donations for the sorority’s Heart for Hearing campaign, which aims to raise $5 million through its 170 chapters. She maintains a website for contributions here.

“I just love for people to get involved, to learn more about how much of a difference this work can make in someone’s life,” she says.

The World Health Organization has designated March 3 as World Hearing Day to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care.