Dad's workplace goes all out for Loud Shirt Day
For Charlie Wang, getting his workplace involved in Loud Shirt Day 2016 was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
Charlie and his wife Tracy are proud parents to Tiantian, 4, and Rex, 2. They were “shocked and devastated” to learn that Tiantian was deaf.
Charlie says they were “in denial for quite a while” because he initially passed his new born hearing screening.
Tiantian’s hearing loss was picked up when he was two years old after his parents expressed concern about his speech and language development.
Grommets provided no improvement and he was later diagnosed with a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. He initially had hearing aids, but now wears cochlear implants and comes to The Hearing House in Auckland for weekly therapy sessions to learn to listen and speak.
“Rex was 10 months old and we had to adjust quickly to keep everything going at home. It was definitely one of the most difficult times of our life,” Charlie says.
The Wang’s have been part of The Hearing House family since September 2015 and Charlie says despite being well informed about the journey ahead, “honestly speaking, we still had doubts in the beginning”.
“I think [having doubts is] a quick stage each family goes through as normal human beings. We soon noticed the changes and progresses, and there were loads of surprises along the journey.
“We're confident that with the hard work the professionals and our family put in together, Tiantian's going to be leading a normal and happy life.
“Now being deaf is just part of Tiantian's life and our life in the family. It's just like I wear prescription glasses to help me see clearly.”
Charlie got his workplace involved in Loud Shirt Day 2016 – an experience he says was rewarding in a number of ways.
“We've always wanted to contribute to The Hearing House as much as we can, and I have friends at work asking about Tiantian's progress on a regular basis so I thought it would be lovely to get the people who care about us on board to help.
“It was definitely our way of giving back with appreciation to The Hearing House, and raising awareness of The Hearing House.”
Charlie works in Auckland Council’s ICT (Information Communications Technology) department. His immediate colleagues already knew about Tiantian’s hearing journey, and the organization has been more than supportive around his surgery and therapy sessions.
In an effort to get his co-workers on board Charlie was able to set up donation boxes across numerous floors in a couple of council buildings in the city, and in a staff cafeteria. He also initiated a challenge between the ICT department and the finance team. Charlie had the assistance of “two amazing helpers” who organised a fashion parade, prizes and utilised the fund-o-meters.
Group emails kept everyone involved and encouraged donations.
He also had the support of senior management – the ICT director got in on the act by donning a loud shirt and joining Charlie to ‘shake the bucket’ on all the floors involved in the appeal.
“I felt very confident to raise funds and awareness with their support, and their support definitely reflected significantly on the amount we raised.”
Charlie says sending out a personal email to some of his closest colleagues was also a very effective way to boost donations.
“I sent out an email to people who already knew Tiantian’s story and quite a few $20 notes came back.”
Charlie says getting his work place involved in Loud Shirt Day was “as rewarding as seeing Tiantian's speech development progress, and I did feel super proud”.
He and Tracy “love to be involved in the story telling” of their son’s journey.
“We had a couple of family's telling us their stories in the beginning of our journey, and even though each one of us had different experiences, it was always nice to know we're not in it by ourselves.
“Soon enough we realised we could call this community, and The Hearing House, family.”
In total, Charlie, his helpers, and the staff at Auckland Council raised $2000 for Loud Shirt Day 2016.
“We had Tiantian and Rex help us counting the coins while letting them know the purpose of the money. They seemed to be very proud of me as well. I’m not sure if they understood much but they certainly enjoyed helping with counting – that’s when Tiantian had just started to count to 10 so we had great fun counting.”
Loud Shirt Day organiser Ankita Luthra says Charlie’s efforts are outstanding.
Ankita is The Hearing House fundraising and events coordinator and says it is exciting when families get behind the event.
“Loud Shirt Day is all about raising money so we can continue doing what we do – providing free life-changing services to deaf and hearing impaired children across the country. Our families are our greatest advocates, and Charlie’s efforts have shown that a family’s personal story is a powerful one that can prompt amazing generosity,” Ankita says.
“Thank you very much to the Wang family, and Auckland Council for all their support.”