Local Toastmasters Club celebrating its 80th anniversary

Long Beach Gavel Club #11, one of the oldest Toastmasters clubs in the world, will celebrate its 80th anniversary with a special dinner event at El Dorado Park on April 13.
The club was chartered on March 25, 1933 and has been active in the area ever since, providing growth opportunities for hundreds of Long Beach residents wanting to overcome their fear of public speaking and develop communication and leadership skills useful in both their personal and professional lives.
The club was chartered two weeks after the Great Long Beach Earthquake. Although it was a challenging time for the community, its 14 members decided to go forward with their plans. The club’s legacy includes being one of the first clubs to allow in women (it was an all-male organization until 1974); numerous members going on to District officer leadership roles including four becoming district governors; and many Distinguished Toastmasters, which is the highest educational and leadership level of achievement in Toastmasters.
“We’re very excited to be celebrating our 80th anniversary,” said Gavel Club President Michelle Darlington. “In a world where the ‘latest and greatest’ are often short-lived historical moments, it’s exciting and inspiring to be a part of this club and Toastmasters International.” 
Long Beach Gavel Club, 11th out of 13,500 Toastmasters International clubs currently in existence, will celebrate its 80th anniversary on Saturday, April 13, from 5pm to 7pm at El Dorado Park West Senior Center, 2800 N. Studebaker Rd. The program will include a catered dinner and presentations recalling the history of the club. Current and past club members will be sharing what they have gained from being a member. Current club members, alumni, and past and current district leaders will be present. 
“Like many people, I didn’t know what to expect at a Toastmaster meeting,” Darlington said. “I thought it would be about practicing toasts and what one would say, if they were on the spot, at a wedding or other special event. But it is definitely much more than that. Joining Long Beach Gavel Club had increased my self-confidence, and I feel I stand taller. This is due to the experience I gain from weekly opportunities to speak in front of familiar, friendly faces. We are each on the same path and only want each other to improve.” 
Gavel Club currently has 35 members, and new members continue to join. Some members have been involved for more than 20 years, including Ken McCatty since 1968, Sandy Dunning since 1988 and Bob Dunning since 1990.
“My 25-year membership in Gavel Club #11 has been a life-changing experience,” said Sandy Dunning. “I gained new speaking skills, valuable leadership opportunities and life-long friendships. Toastmasters had provided me opportunities to take on leadership and communication roles I may not have ever had a chance to do otherwise.”  
Bob Dunning met his wife Sandy at a Toastmasters function. “My 23 years of Gavel Club membership have provided me with a great many friends and acquaintances along with the communication and leadership opportunities that I have been able to take advantage of,” he said. “Thank you, Gavel Club.”
Guests are welcome to visit the club and observe what happens at a meeting. The Gavel Club meets every Monday from 6:45pm to 8:45pm at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 5633 E. Wardlow Rd. The club encourages anyone interested in joining to visit their website at lbgavelclub.toastmastersclubs.org .
Gavel Club is part of Toastmasters International, a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization has more than 270,000 members in over 13,000 clubs in 116 countries.

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