Carlos V

by Carlos Velázquez, DTM

May 1, 2018 marks the anniversary of our club becoming a chartered organization with Toastmasters International.  Our club environment was probably very different in the early years as some of our charter members and officers were living in a time of dramatic political changes in South Africa, Sri Lanka and the US.  Mrs. Doubtfire and Jurassic Park were entertaining audiences while Philadelphia and Schindler’s List were making powerful statements in the film industry.  The Beanie Baby was introduced to the world while Whitney Houston told us how much she loved us. 

I am guessing that many of our new Toastmasters members were not born or still in their early childhood years in 1993.  I was returning to the United States after several years in Australia and I remember feeling so removed from my home country watching the replays of the Rodney King beating, the riots in 1992 and the final verdict for the civil rights case in 1993—two weeks before Crystal City Evening Toastmasters became an official club.  We met in Aurora Hills Senior Community Center for 23 years until the space went through a nice facelift.  We returned last year to a new look and a comfortable and familiar feel. 

Years have gone by and our timing box has kept time for many speeches.  It has remained a symbol of our longevity and our members are symbolic of our success.  Some of those successes include earning our Presidents Distinguished in 2013 to 2015 and again from 2016 to 2018; producing speech champions from 2015 to 2017; and receiving awards for membership drives and website designs.  Our use and dependence on technology has dramatically changed as we have integrated Pathways as the norm in our club.  We are one of the few clubs in District 27 who has earned their distinguished status with a majority of our education awards from the Pathways program and the only club that has all of its members registered for the new curriculum.  We are early adopters and that is symbolic of our success.

We are a highly diverse club with members who represent the baby boomer generation to millennials; countries such as Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Palestine; and from various career paths such as teachers, trainers, and accountants.  The diversity is also symbolic of our success.  Our differences make us stronger communicators and leaders and contribute to a richer club experience. 

Finally, our success is built on our consistent drive towards our mission and the values that define our club culture.  Beyond the traditional values of Toastmasters International we consider family an important value that is symbolic of our respect for one another and the meaningful relationships that have developed over the years.  Twenty-five years ago our club was chartered in a different world.  Symbols of our success surround us whether they be a weathered time box; the chandelier logo; the diversity of our members; or the familiar ties that unite us we can proudly say that “Crystal City Evening Toastmasters is 25 years strong and growing.”