The Starkey Hearing Foundation has given away hundreds of thousands of hearing aids to people suffering from hearing loss in more than 47 countries. Since 2005, Glen & Becky Taylor have made a foundation a part of their lives and their families lives.
The Taylor family’s contributions include, but are not limited to, funding and being a part in missions in the United States, Guatemala, Egypt, Turkey, Central Africa, and China. Their efforts continue to bring hearing aids to tens of thousands of people living in a world without sound.
Examiner: “Your relationship with the Starkey foundation goes back quite a few years. Could you elaborate on how and when you were first introduce to the foundation?”
Glen Taylor: “When I first met Bill, it was because we where doing a printing for his company. So, I was really there to talk to him about a marketing program, and talk business. It was near the end of the day and we where just sitting there talking. I heard him mention something about the foundation, and I asked him to explain.
What’d he do? He said to me, ‘Well I’m not sure you’ll understand.’… But I understood exactly. He and I just think the same way, and basically what he said to me is…”
’I have been more fortunate in life then I ever anticipated to be. Therefore there must be some reason for that, therefore I want to give back, and the way that I have chosen to give back is through my business with hearing aids because it’s what I know.’
Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation Bill Austin
Glen Taylor: “So I said to him, ‘I have similar beliefs, and my good fortune was that I got an education and it really helped me to do lots of really good things.’ I give back to education with my foundations and stuff like that. But so I said, ‘No, I know exactly what you mean’. I think it stuck a friendship, just in that one meeting, because I understood where his heart really was, and that he really cared for people.”
Examiner: “How did your friendship with Bill Austin, and relationship with the Starkey foundation build from there?”
Glen Taylor: “The next step was…the foundation was going to have their Gala, and this was in 2005. I had never been to that, I didn’t know anything about it. Becky and I had just started to date and Tani, Bill’s wife, said ‘Why don’t the two of you come out to our Gala? If you’re going to go out on a date, why don’t you come to a really nice fun night out with us.’ We didn’t say no, and she said, ‘You’re our guest and you should come.’ So we went to what ended up being a really nice date out at our first Starkey Gala.
At first I knew about the mission part, but I didn’t know how he raised this money, I didn’t know about the Gala part, or how they did anything like that because I was more struck with the mission part of their work.”
Examiner: “Could you go into more detail about your first involvement with the Starkey missions themselves?”
Glen Taylor: “So, in regards to the mission, Becky and I said, ‘We have an education mission where we provide education for children down in Guatemala. They are indigenous kids, and we have a lot of kids that we help there.’ Bill said, ‘Guatemala is one of the places that we would like to distribute hearing aids.’ So we kind of started to put the thing together.
The plan was to go down to the school kids that were in my program and offer hearing aids to those of them with hearing difficulties. They were really a lot of the same types of kids, but they were all just living in really poor communities. So then we decided to do something a little bit different in the way we contributed to the mission.”
Glen Taylor: “We said, ‘Bill, if we are going to do that, we want our family to go down there and be the missionaries.’ He was kind of like, ‘You guys really want to go down there yourselves, because I’ll find volunteers to do that.’ I said, ‘No, we are the volunteers, our family will be the volunteers.’ So then Bill said, ‘Well, then Tani and I are going to go too’.”
“It was just a small mission Bill, Tani, a small group of people that work close with him and our family. We went down there together in the small group, you have dinner together, you work close together, you do it all together. It couldn’t have been more comfortable in the sense that, we had a good time, we served a really good purpose, everyone worked really hard, and we became very close to them. Not only on the mission stuff but just in general in life.
That was the draw, and from that, you have probably seen that we have gone and supported financially many mission trips. Every time we have done that, we either had us go, or our families go, or our friends go. So we have seen that the Starkey foundation does a number of things.”
On Starkey’s contributions to community and family…
Glen Taylor: “Number one, they just help children in need. Really beautiful children that are put in schools in for the deaf, but they aren’t deaf. So, if we can give them a hearing aid and we can get them out of the deaf schools and back into regular school. For many of them it will change there lives.
In addition, some of our elderly people that one time had hearing, but have lost their hearing have been receiving hearing aids through Starkey and we get to see the benefits of that.
Then there’s the benefit of having our family doing the mission work. We think it supports our family, so there’s something we get back from it. It’s makes us a stronger family and I’m glad we brought our family into it. My wife Becky is a nurse so I’ll let her go into some further details about some of the mission work.”
Becky Taylor: “With the lost of the hearing in the third world, it’s because they’re not getting the antibiotics that they do need, and if they do get antibiotics its typically not an antibiotic that affects hearing.”
Examiner: “Could you tell me about your most memorable experience on a Starkey mission?”
Becky Taylor: “It was the first mission trip that we had gone on to Guatemala, and I had never gone on a mission trip before. At one point, to this day just melts my heart, a mother came in and here she had this baby that was about a year old, and I’m thinking she’s bring in this baby because the baby has a hearing problem. As I began helping her I realized that it was actually the mom who couldn’t hear.
So we fit her with a hearing aid, and she was holding her little baby. The baby started crying, and the mom just started crying right with her because that was the first time that mom had ever heard her baby cry. It was a very emotional experience.
Here’s this mom, and this baby that she would have sleeping in a dresser drawer next to her bed so that she could keep an eye on the child. She would wake up multiple times throughout the night just to look at this baby, because she could never hear this little child cry or make noises during the middle of the night.
What a life changing experience for that mom, to actually hear her baby’s voice. Because there is nothing more heart touching or heart wrenching than to hear your own child cry that very first time, and for her to hear it when the child was a year old, that was pretty amazing.”
Examiner: “As a result of your contributions, thousands of individuals receive the ‘gift of sound’ and the potential to live normal lives. How does it feel to know that your efforts, coupled with those of the Starkey foundations brought joy to so many people in need?”
Glen Taylor: “In one sense that’s easy to answer, but in the other sense, it’s almost overwhelming. You have to start with thinking that God gave you a gift, in this case, the chance to earn money. Now that you can use that in the world to help so many people that are in need is almost overwhelming. You want to use it wisely, and it’s really important.
There are so many people that come to us and ask us for donations to help. I think what is so important with Starkey is that we are there on location, and actually can see who’s getting the assistance, and the immediate impact it can have on a person’s life. Becky gave you one example, but we got a thousand stories like that one.
To see it in person, (pause) it’s very emotional, it’s very rewarding. We are religious people so we feel like we are doing what’s meant to be done, but we don’t just take it for granted, we feel really honored that we are in this position to help people.”