Oak Bay face new to Big Band Bash

Centre benefits those with hearing issues across the Island

Leslee Scott

Leslee Scott and Cruise are a relatively new sight on Oak Bay streets.

Maternal rubella left Scott with limited hearing from birth, so Cruise, a black poodle with “puppy haircut” offers a little listening support.

Between the poodle and the cochlear implant clearly visible with her cropped haircut, the pair are a regular and perhaps noticeable sight on their commute to the Island Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre in Victoria, where Scott started in June as manager of Family and Community Services.

Her broad title indicates the reality of her work, as she helps clients fill applications or get ferry passes for medical reasons, basically providing support within the community. “It could be personal problems, coping with hearing loss,” Scott said.

“There are a lot of people out there with hearing loss. They don’t want to admit it, but it’s better to address it because it has long-term effects.”

Some of those effects include people left withdrawn from friends and social situations, misunderstandings and frustration all around.

“They get isolated, being alone in a crowd,” Scott said.

The non-profit organization puts together a number of events throughout the year, and welcomes donations and endowments when they come in, but holds only one real fundraiser a year. It’s become an annual tradition for many clients, but it will be Scott’s inaugural Big Band Bash come Nov. 7.

“I’m hoping I have a chance to dance,” she said. “My husband and I took ballroom dance and we’re looking forward to some jive or swing.”

The Swiftsure Big Band and The Commodores both donate their time and talent for the cause that raises funds through ticket sales and silent auction. Funds go toward IDHHC programs for those with hearing challenges across the Island, with centres in Victoria and Nanaimo.

“We need to keep the agency running. … There’s such a need for services. It’s a place where the client can come and communicate,” Scott said. “We’re a place where we understand. Some people when they come in and realize I have hearing loss, they just relax. I get it. I get wheat they’re going through.”

The eighth annual Big Band Bash is Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Fatima Portuguese Hall, 4635 Elk Lake Drive. Tickets are $35, or $350 for a table of 10. Visit bigbandbash.ca for ticket information.

Visit idhhc.ca for more about programming.

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