Human Interest Stories

Story #1

Shortly before 1999 we had a young deaf man who had become part of our deaf teen group and attended Carlsbad HS. SOS was still in it's infancy but had a strong activities calendar for deaf and asl students to socialize every week. This young man was hard of hearing and came from a single parent home. He was extremely smart and really enjoyed being with his deaf friends and hearing asl students. One of the challenges this young man faced was poor eyesight and wore pretty thick glasses. One of his dreams was to not wear glasses anymore and hopefully get a good job after HS and have a girlfriend and a better life.

One of our other deaf teen boys, a friend and classmate of this young man, decided to rally the other deaf teens and see what they could do to help him. After discussing options they really wanted to help pay for Lasic Surgery and help fulfill this young mans dreams. So they approached SOS and asked for our help to maybe somehow raise the money to pay for Lasic Surgery. The cost was approximately $5000 ($2500 for each eye). A lot of money for deaf teens who didn't have jobs yet.

So they started scheduling mini fundraisers like carwashes, selling See's candies, Hot dog stands in front of Walmart and Target, etc. North County Times was supportive and placed Community News Clips in the newspapers advertising each event for more people to find out and help. Huge success !! Each event people were handing us money left and right and at a few of our car washes they would drop off money and not even get their car washed. The community's heart was touched by this challenge and the courage of our deaf teens and they responded.

The other way we raised money was writing letters to all the Lions Clubs throughout San Diego County and we started getting invited to meetings and introducing this young deaf man and asking for help. Business leaders and businesses throughout SD who were Lions Club Members starting sending in money too. In all we raised the $5000 needed in about 6 months time and then the search was on for a good Lasic Surgery Doctor.

We found one in Santa Monica, the best there was, and after meeting with this young deaf man and hearing his story and what a group of deaf teens did to help him, he reduced the price to $4000 and performed the surgery.

SUCCESS!!! Our deaf friend had 20/15 vision for the first time in his life and no more glasses. Soon after he got the job of his dreams ( a computer repair job) and eventually a girlfriend. Well deserving for such a fine and decent young man.

Grips the heart and really challenges all of us to never give up on our dreams. People have the ability to give and help with the right approach and right message. This is one of many miracles at SOS and there's another miracle waiting to happen...thanks.
December 8, 2010

Story #2

About 8 years ago a local school district office (San Marcos) called SOS to ask for help for one of their freshman students. We were told that this young man was a straight A student throughout his school years until he became a freshman, and that his grades suddenly started falling after he entered the 9th grade. After investigating as to reasons why , thinking it was possibly family problems, depression, or involvement in gangs. No one could figure it out, until someone finally suggested having his hearing checked.They found out that it was because of a hearing loss. This young man had some degenerative hearing loss going on but the boy didn't want to tell anyone for fear other kids would make fun of him, so he never told anyone. He just tried sitting in front of the classroom but it wasn't working. So the School District contacted us for help, knowing we provide services for the Deaf, but could we help this young man who didn't know asl or have a connection to the deaf world. Of course we said yes, we would try and see what we could do. Signs Of Silence has a relationship with several Audiologists in North County, so we researched several resources and discovered there is a Hearing Foundation in Minnesota called Starkeys and they provide hearing aids for low income families who qualify. Perfect!! We made the connection between the family and Starkeys and sure enough, this family qualified and the young HS student was given 2 brand new hearing aids for free, worth $3000. Once he was fitted and starting using his hearing aids he went back to being an A student again. All were happy and the boy was given a second chance because of the services SOS provides and the connections we have. We love seeing someones life improved simply by asking for help. Another one of the many successes here at SOS. Please keep visiting our website, more good news to come!

December 27, 2010

Story #3

One of SOS earliest memories was a little deaf boy named Tyler Swob. We met Tyler Swob at Barnes and Noble in Escondido during Pajarama story time on Monday nights. SOS volunteered interpreting story time for deaf children who wanted to come. At that time we had 3 or 4 deaf children that would attend. Tyler and his mom and his brother and sister attended the story time pretty regular. We became fast friends. About one year after meeting Tyler and his family, a Hollywood Producer contacted Signs Of Silence looking for a deaf child to interview and possible take a part in a movie they were filming in San Diego. At that time SOS had a very strong deaf teen group but not alot of deaf pre-teens. But we were able to gather up 6 pr 7 deaf children ranging in ages from 5 to 12 years old. All of them were asked to show up for an audition in San Diego on a particular day and try out for a part in a movie. How exciting is that. The movie was about a monkey who was hurt and was brought to a hospital emergency room and there he met a deaf boy. After all the auditions were completed Tyler Swob won the part and starred in a Hollywood movie. Signs Of Silence had a part in Tyler's success and because of our reputation in the community, SOS was selected to accommodate Hollywood with a deaf star for the movie. Today Tyler is a College graduate and lives in New York. You can find him on Facebook. Just another heart warming story in our history

January 3, 2011

Story #4

Since SOS began in 1996 we have received some unbelieveable requests for help. And our response has always been "Let's see what we can do". We never turn down a request for help and even if we are unable to directly help someone, we will find someone who can. SOS believes in the heart of every American is the desire to help another in need. That's not only the American thing to do but also a Human thing to here's our next story.

6 months ago in June SOS was asked to be a speaker at a local Lions Club in San Marcos to talk about their agency. After we spoke there one of the newest Lions, Javier, approached us and asked if we could help a deaf person living in Mexico, across the border. Here's his request.

Javier is hearing and has a family friend living in TJ. This friend had an unusual visitor to their home about 8 months ago, a young deaf male, age 26, name was Angel. Angel knocked on Javier's friend's door seeking work. He lived in southern Mexico and had a wife and children. It was discovered upon meeting Angel that he was deaf. So the family decided to give him light work, enough to be able to at least feed his family.

As the relationship progressed Angel told the family one of his dreams was to be able to hear sound. He was not profoundly deaf, and his dream was to be able to have hearing aids to help him hear sound. So the family friend took him to a local audiologist and find out the cost for hearing aids. Approx $1200 each in TJ. That was the end of that search, neither family nor Angel could afford that.

So Javier heard SOS story and decided to see what he could do to find a resource their new deaf friend Angel in TJ. SOS of course responded and told Javier we will get back with him and see what we could do. SOS partners with a hearing aid foundation in Minnesota called Starkeys. If a deaf person qualifies they could possibly be approved to get hearing aids for free....

So SOS called Javier and had Javier connect the family in Mexico with SOS. It was discovered that Starkeys has an international department and can help deaf outside the US. SUCCESS !!!! Not only did Angel qualify, but Starkeys provided Angel with hearing aids worth $6000 ($3000 per ear), the best they had. Angel received his hearing aids and for the first time in his 26 year old life he could hear sound clearly. Even though SOS has never met Angel, we now have a friend in TJ who loves our agency. Thanks to the Lions Club for their invitation and Javiers love for people and SOS for making the connection. The great and awesome things that happen, simply by asking for help. Every dream can come true.....stay tuned for more Human interest stories.

January 3, 2011

Story #5

This story begins 2 years ago, one of our most recent miracle stories. This one really takes the cake (tear jerker). Get the tissues ready, I'm telling you it's heart warming.

One of our deaf guys introduced SOS to a deaf friend of his who was looking for a job. We agreed to meet one night about 9pm so we could chat and find out how we could help this young man. After chatting with our new deaf friend and finding out how we could help him find a job, it became clear he had more important needs that needed to be resolved before we could talk about a job. Below is his story...

When our deaf friend was born, he was born to parents that were not American Citizens. They had other issues too but out of respect we will not mention those. When our friend was born, it was discovered he was deaf around the age of 3. He was born in a house in San Bernardino. His birth was never recorded because his parents didn't want to be found out and sent back to Mexico. When his parents discovered he was deaf, they abandoned him and left. So one of his Aunts came and took him to keep him in a safe place. But because the Aunt didn't have the ability to take care of him our deaf friend was placed in foster care and eventually a group home. For years he had no clue where he was born ( no one ever told him), or much about his parents or about his life. He had tons of questions about his life but because his family didn't sign, he didn't have a alot of answers.

Because his birth was never registered he never had a SSN, bank account, ID, or a job. He was like a ghost, a nobody. He was placed at Carlsbad School's DHH program in elementary school. The only reason he was accepted there was because he was considered "homeless" and the law requires he have an education.

He went thru his entire school years with no help from School Staff to help him find his identity. No one there helped him get what he needed to have a life. When he graduated HS he still had no ID or SSN or job or identity. Our system failed him.

His entire life up to the age of 20 he still wasn't sure where he was born, if he was legal or illegal or where his real parents were. He lived a very lonely and isolated life, living in fear every day that he would be caught and sent back to Mexico because he had no identity.

After finding all this out that night at 9am, SOS decided to get involved and find the answers for him. We've never done this before but decided to contact the Aunt who raised him and she filled us in on what little information she had.

So we went to work....we contacted the County Recorders Office in San Bernardino to establish his birth, but no records were found because his birth was never registered. So we were referred to the Delayed Registration of birth Dept in Sacramento, told them our story and they sent us a package with forms to fill out, and a list of items we needed to prove our friends birth in the US.

Most of what we needed, we didn't have. Not much was kept from our friends birth or life and we lacked everything we needed to process our request for a birth certificate. We were told it could take up to one year to process once we did get everything we needed. When we sent what we had to Sac, we also sent a letter explaining our friends story. Their hearts were touched and decided to make our request priority and rush our request thru, but because we didn't have what we needed, we ended up having to go to court in front of a judge to hopefully get his official stamp and seal to approve our application for a birth cert.

Success...what was suppose to take at least 9 months, took 5 months. Our friend finally got his birth certificate at the age of 20. Once we had that, we were able to get his SSN, a Cal ID card, a Drivers license and an income from SSI and his first real bank account. He was now officially a real person with an identity.

After all that happened, we helped him get his first real full time job and he just recently bought his first car all by himself. He is living the high life and living the American Dream. But the story doesn't end there. We were able to help him get a passport to Mexico and for the first time since he was a baby, he was reunited with his birth Mother. Wow Wow Wow....incredible success and happy ending to a very long and lonely beginning.

When you have faith and believe you Can, anything is possible. SOS had a part and together we overcame impossible odds. Incredible story......
January 23, 2011

Story #6

This Human Interest story involves several players, a tragedy, a dream and a Will to make a difference. Every story has a beginning and a purpose and a whole lot of challenges on it's journey to success. Signs Of Silence has all of that and more. Few know about our beginning ... It goes beyond our home page message and much deeper.

SOS's owner, Roy, comes from a family of 7 children and a father who served in the US Navy for close to 30 years, a dedicated and loving mother and 2 brothers who served in the Airforce. A very structured, moral and old fashioned values upbringing. After graduating HS, Roy became a banker for 10 years where he learned business sense and management. During those 10 years he got married and had 2 children. Also during that time Roy decided to take asl classes to communicate with his brother in law Dan, his oldest sisters husband, because he is deaf.

It was after Roy completed asl 4 at Mesa college his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida for more training working with the deaf and learn interpreting and deaf culture. On Valentines day in 1991 is when the tragedy happened with his deaf friend Debbie (explained on the website homepage), who died when 911 was not equipped to respond to a call from someone deaf.

After this tragedy, Roy moved his family back to San Diego. Unsure of his future, a friend of Roy's named Dorothy, suggested he start a business for the deaf and raise money to help them. (Roy's skill in banking was marketing and bringing failing banks to profitability). Roy accepted the challenge and received his non-profit application from the IRS to become a 501 C 3. With no business degree or background at owning a business, let alone a non-profit business, Roy decided to quit his full time job, live on his savings account and start researching our deaf community in SD. It took approximately 4 years of research meeting with high profile deaf leaders asking advice, gathering statistics like unemployment, population, legal and educational statistics and more. One question was asked every place Roy went (police stations, fire departments, schools, court houses, hospitals, etc)...If a deaf person came to you and needed an interpreter where would u get one? Surprisingly not one place knew. D in the phone book for Disabled or D for Deaf ?? That was their response. The need became obvious.

Roy also made appts and met with several agencies in SD in an attempt to find out what services were available to our deaf friends for every kind of need and to partner with them to make sure everything was accessible. It wasn't a pleasant and well received beginning with SOS. There was overwhelming opposition, in part because SOS mission was not clear or understood. In the process of starting SOS there were many challenges to overcome including financially.

Because SOS did not have a reputation in SD there was not alot of support from our deaf community. But in spite of the challenges and opposition from the community SOS wanted to serve miracles started happening. The application to the IRS took less then 2 weeks to approve (in most cases it takes 9 months or longer). And with the application there were fee's involved, $750. Someone from our community stepped up and paid for it, an asl student and her parents who were taking asl classes. They understood the need and liked what they saw.

Once we were approved as a no-profit agency we were offered a free office space for the 1st two months, the same location SOS is at now. But with no money or investors or established fund raising plan SOS became one year behind in rent, struggling to get things going at the beginning. The owner of the office space was patient and believed in us and allowed us time to catch up, which we did. We were selling hot dogs and sodas in front of WalMarts, and Target stores on weekends, making $800 each washes, See's Candy sales, anything we could do to not only raise money but get the word out. It worked !!! Not only did we catch up on rent but word started spreading about us.

In the 14 years SOS has been around it has been named Business of the Year 10 times, received the Channel 10 Leadership award, over 600 mentions in the newspaper (several feature articles), 12 times on CNN, 10 different radio station interviews, Voted top non profit agency in the world for the deaf, 2 Wall Street Journal recognitions and several international advisory boards invitations. We've written 7 small grants and received everyone of them (usually to fund a deaf event like Summer camping trips). To this day our mission has never changed, we've never had to move our location or discontinue a program, we are debt free and our total support comes from fund raising events in the community.

Signs Of Silence's direction comes from a board of directors who are regular everyday hard working deaf citizens who have no lables or notoriety. They are deaf and hard of hearing people just like those we serve. They are our heroe's because they care about their community.

There's more we could share, much more, but before SOS started being recognized for it's accomplishments there were many failures along the way. Lessons have been learned too, but the Vision has always been clear and the path has always been straight and one thing is guaranteed...SOS and those involved will always remember where we came from and our beginning. What has always worked will never change...People Driven, not Program driven. Thanks....
February 4, 2011


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December 22, 2010
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