LACOOCHEE — For Sallie Auld the smile is a dead giveaway.
"There's nothing like it," she said before slipping a set of headphones on the next kindergartener waiting in line. "You can tell they can hear when you see their smile."
Sure the kids are supposed to raise their hand the second they hear that high-pitched beep. But the wee ones are still learning how to follow directions, so a knowing smile or an instant sparkle in the eye are cues that Auld has learned to pick up on.
In the coming months, Auld will be spending time in local elementary schools as an RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) volunteer for the Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation of Florida. On Wednesday she was at Lacoochee Elementary School. Next she'll be at Cox Elementary School in Dade City. And the testing schedule looks to be jam-packed for the coming months.
Since 1996, Sertoma has been testing the hearing of Pasco elementary and middle school students as well as conducting hearing screenings for students transferring into the state. The idea being that if kids can't hear, they can't learn.
Volunteers are an essential part of the program's success.
Auld, 70, has been volunteering with Sertoma since 2007, coming on board after reading about the organization in the newspaper. It was a worthwhile way to spend time after taking down the shingle on her own medical billing service, she said. And one of a handful of regular altruistic stints she devotes her time to.
"I love doing this," Auld said. "I love the children and I love Sertoma and I just love what we're doing here."
Michele Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org