HearCare Audiology & Entheos Audiology Cooperative Fort Wayne, IN
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Smiles Heard ’Round the World
Nora Stewart was delighted to establish an audiology practice with her husband in 2000, just a few years after they graduated from the University of Cincinnati. They had been working at separate practices in Toledo when Ken proposed the idea of starting a private practice. “We could provide patient care the way we envision it,” he said.
Nora agreed wholeheartedly. The couple tapped into SCORE’s free mentoring service and heeded the mentor’s advice to start shopping for a business immediately. Within months, they acquired a practice in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with the support of a business loan from a PNC predecessor bank. “PNC has always gone the extra mile for us — helping us launch HearCare Audiology, grow our practice, navigate challenges and pursue new opportunities,” Nora shares.
But even as the practice thrived in its first several years, Nora found herself questioning her path forward. “I needed to reconnect with my ‘why,’” she explains. “Why do I love being an audiologist? What is my greater purpose in doing this work?” A manufacturer’s training session in Mexico provided answers.
Giving Back to the World and Her Industry
After completing the training session, Nora and Ken opted to stay in Mexico an extra day to contribute their services to low-income patients who had no other access to audiologic care.
“We saw one patient after another; by 2 p.m., I knew why I was on this planet,” Nora says, recalling the images of faces young and old lighting up with “hearing smiles” as they embraced the gift of sound. “There’s so much need around the world. My prayer that day was, ‘Let me never forget that this is why I’m here.’”
Inspired, the Stewarts founded a nonprofit, GiveHear, which serves disadvantaged individuals across Northeast Indiana. While Nora’s vision had been to expand the nonprofit internationally, the board voted to keep its focus local. So in 2016, she established a second nonprofit, Hearing the Call, to focus on global humanitarian efforts.
At this time, Nora was two years into another business venture, Entheos Audiology Cooperative, which she had established to support independent audiology practitioners across the country. “Entheos is a co-op truly committed to banding together, building purchasing leverage, and sharing business services and knowledge,” she says. “I also saw potential to create a sustainable model for giving across our industry.”
The co-op enables practitioners to fulfill their own local philanthropic goals and participate in Hearing the Call’s global missions. Patients become engaged, too, with many donating used hearing aids for reconditioning and redistribution when they learn about their audiologists’ nonprofit work.
Within five years, Entheos practitioners visited nine countries, helping 10,000 individuals and training health providers there to provide ongoing audiologic care. “Our goal is to lift people up around the world by continually growing our presence,” Nora says. “I’ve been contacted by colleagues in India and South Africa who are interested in learning about our model so they can begin their own humanitarian initiatives. This amazing opportunity to connect with others is much more than gratifying; it’s life-changing for everyone involved.”
- 2018 Humanitarian of the Year, American Academy of Audiology
Find them on the Web: https://www.hearcare-indiana.com and https://www.entheoshearing.com
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