Professor wins award for humanitarian effort

Allison Miller

Silence is golden, but for 83 children in Santiago, Chile, it was a challenge to their futures.
With the help of numerous organizations, University professor and director of audiology Robert Margolis was able to lend a hand and, in the process, be awarded the American Academy of Audiology’s humanitarian award.
Margolis began the project of upgrading facilities at the Jorge Otte Gabler School for Hearing Impaired Children after a visit in 1994.
“It was very clear they needed some resources,” said Margolis. “There were wonderful, well-trained people, but they needed physical resources.”
According to an article published by the Academy of Audiology, Margolis worked with the International Hearing Foundation, Rotary Clubs in Minnesota and Chile, Phonic Ear Inc. and the Starkey Foundation to provide classroom amplification systems, hearing aids and a new playground facility.
“Response to the project was wonderful,” Margolis said.
The first part of the project took four years to raise the $70,000 in needed funds — including $30,000 in IHF fund raising, $14,000 by the Minnesota Rotary Clubs, $5,500 by the Santiago-based Vitacura Rotary and a $20,000 Rotary Foundation grant.
These funds were in conjunction with what Margolis estimated was $100,000 of donated hearing aids from the Starkey Foundation, the world’s largest producer of hearing aids. Starkey is based in Minnesota.
In addition to the hearing equipment, it took another year to raise the $25,000 for the playground renovation, described in the Audiology article as previously “barren” and with only “an overturned bench” as playground equipment.
There is a second phase of the project,”still in the planning stages,” Margolis said, including a diagnostic center enabling the region to better evaluate hearing disorders of both children and adults.
Margolis received the humanitarian award in March during the academy’s 12th annual convention.
The academy is a professional organization dedicated to providing hearing care to the public while, according to its mission statement, offering its members opportunities to achieve career objectives through research, education and increased public awareness.