The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) was founded in 1979 and opens the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, advocacy and support. HLAA publishes Hearing Life (a quarterly magazine for HLAA members), holds annual conventions, produces the Walk4Hearing event and advocates for people with hearing loss. The mission for the local chapter of HLAA is to open the world of communication to a more active and rewarding lifestyle for the 260,000 people with hearing loss in Hillsborough County.

According to Eloise Schwarz, steering committee leader of the Tampa chapter, there is no fee to join the support group. “However, we encourage membership with the organization, which supports our chapter,” said Schwarz. “All of the work done at the chapter level is led by volunteers.”

The monthly HLAA meetings will be held on the third Tuesday of each month at 12:30 p.m. in person at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Sun City Center and via Zoom with captions. These in-person meetings had been suspended during COVID-19 and are finally resuming beginning on Tuesday, January 18.

“Topics for the meetings range from hearing aids to safety, depending on the specialization of the speaker and their expertise,” said Schwarz. Some of the upcoming monthly guest speakers include Alaina Hodges from the Hearing Center, Don and Chris Guiley from A+ Hearing Center, Jeffery Merry from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Michael Zimmerman, RN, director of Emergency Services at South Bay Hospital.

Schwartz encourages and welcomes people with hearing loss to attend a meeting to get invaluable information and fellowship with others in the community to learn about communication strategies, legal rights, safety and empowerment. “My goal is to help people,” she said.

The meeting on January 18 will feature Barbara Kelly, executive director of HLAA, and will cover subjects related to the national chapter of HLAA, volunteers, advocates, updates on Medicare and over-the-counter hearing aids and the upcoming 2022 HLAA Tampa Convention. To register for the meeting, email or text 727-271-0770.

The meeting is free at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, located at 1239 W. Del Webb Blvd. in Sun City Center. There will also be a Zoom link available with captions. For more information, visit

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.