Sharronz, a 25-year-old woman in Tanzania, had never heard the sound of rain that so often falls in her African city. She had never heard laughter or even the sound of her own voice, so when a team of volunteers fit her with a new hearing aid, she spent about 15 minutes making noises and kissing and hugging the volunteers, according to Richard Geraci, the owner of Geraci Audibel Hearing Centers in Lufkin, Nacogdoches and Jasper.
“People receiving the gift of hearing can be overwhelmed with the whole event,” Geraci said of his July mission trip to Tanzania in east Africa. “That experience that we were part of is the whole reason we do what we do back here in the States.”
Geraci and his oldest daughter had joined the Starkey Hearing Foundation, an organization that provides hearing aids and hearing programs globally, on the four-day trip to Tanzania. The group fit more than 2,300 hearing aids for children and adults in need in Arusha, Moshi and Mtwara in Tanzania.
“We were so excited to join Starkey Hearing Foundation on this mission,” Geraci said. “The Foundation uses hearing as a vehicle to reflecting caring and change lives around the world. We here at Geraci Audibel Hearing Centers are honored to do our part in delivering the gift of hearing to those in need.”
In 2012, the foundation sent teams of audiologists, hearing professionals and staff to 65 cities in 25 countries, including Ethiopia, Lebanon, China, Ghana and Nigeria. Total, the foundation fit more than 131,000 aids, up from President Clinton’s Global Initiative goal of fitting 100,000 hearing aids annually. As part of Clinton Global Initiative, the Starkey Hearing Foundation has pledged to fit one million hearing aids this decade.
“The team is excited for the new opportunities and adventures 2013 will bring,” said Bill Austin, founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation. “We are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives here and around the world by showing them that we care. Watching somebody light up as they hear for the first time is an incredible experience, and sharing that moment is something you never forget.”
“I will definitely go again,” Geraci said. “This particular mission was my fifth with Starkey Hearing Foundation. The reason I wanted to sponsor this particular one was to share the gift with my daughter and pay tribute to my family for serving East Texas for 50 years.
“To be able to give back is an honor and something we enjoy immensely,” he said. “Adding to that, being able to share these moments with my oldest daughter was priceless. Shelby, my youngest, will definitely be going on the next trip. To see the culture and scenery of different countries has lasting effects for all.”
This July, Geraci Audibel Hearing Centers is celebrating 50 years of work in East Texas. In July 1963, Joseph and Rosemary Geraci opened their first hearing aid office in Lufkin. The business grew to about 10 offices, mostly run by the Geraci family.
“While we have won numerous awards over the years for our service, nothing compares to having the honor and privilege to give back to those in need,” Geraci said. “Most are not allowed to be part of everyday society because of hearing loss. With hearing aids we give them hope, a chance for a better life and a chance to get back into the world that we all take for granted.”
To set up an appointment with Geraci Audibel Hearing Centers, call (936) 634-4383 or visit geracihearing.audibel.com. The Lufkin office is located at 617 S. First St.
Amanda Casanova’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.