Tony Bratschitsch, DTM is the most recent recipient of the Douglas Barclay Award. He is a Past District Governor (2013-2014) in which District 86 achieved Distinguished District status. As well, for over ten years, Tony has been very active in the community as a volunteer. Some of his experiences are:
Royal Canadian Legion
The Royal Canadian Legion was created by an Act of Parliament two years after the founding of Toastmasters. The Legion has official responsibilities for supporting veterans and their families and in honouring Remembrance of the men and women who served, suffered and died doing their duty to our country.
Tony Bratschitsch has been a member of the Legion for twelve years and he has been the Dundas Branch's Chair of the Youth Education program for six years. Tony has been a member of the Branch's executive for five years. He is also a member of the Colour Party which is always front and centre of any Remembrance or other Legion public activity. His participation in the Legion is related to that of Toastmasters because the two organizations in the Town of Dundas have supported each other in many ways.
Tony was asked to be the Chair of the Youth Education program because he was a Toastmaster. During his duration as Chair, Tony has promoted the venerable Annual Poster & Literary Contest to the students and schools in the Dundas, Ancaster and West Hamilton area. This was something that he experimented with by trying different techniques in getting the Grade 1 - 12 students involved and excited about participating in the contests with their poems, essays and posters.
The way it's turned out, unknown to Tony at the beginning, is that he got involved, because he was a Toastmaster, the following has developed:
- more students, teachers and their families got involved
- many more students blossomed with recognition for their submissions
- He had to make different types of presentations to the students
- sometimes as many as eight in one day in individual classes
- sometimes if front of large assemblies of approximately 650 people
- uniquely, at one exceptional family's home (home-taught students) for five straight years. Their mother recently told Tony that her kids no longer consider him as "the Legion guy" but as "their friend" - a very high compliment presentations made at Legion award ceremonies
Tony came home one day and found himself on the front cover of the Dundas Star. This is just one of many media news releases that the local newspapers have provided. Three years before, the Ancaster News posted another separate picture of Tony with students on its front page.
Of the seven Legion Branches in our Zone (Hamilton, Burlington, Dundas, Stoney Creek), Tony's Branch students win 70% of the awards, consistently.
Eleven years ago, Tony was contacted by a professor at Mohawk College to provide a 45-minute presentation on public speaking. Since then, members of his club, Valley Town Toastmasters, have made such presentations every year - except for the year of the provincial strike - in which they also heavily promoted the Toastmaster program. One year, Tony and his club members made nine separate presentations at Mohawk. This past February, Tony and two more members presented to a packed-room audience of 73 students. Over the years, Tony had personally received plenty of "thank you notes" from students. One of his newer neighbors was a student in one of the presentations five years ago and she clearly remembered Tony and Toastmasters.
Ten years ago, Tony was referred to the Southern Ontario Air Cadet organization because he was a Toastmaster. Since then, every year near the end of April, local Toastmasters have been judging their annual debates at Mohawk College. Last April, Tony was recognized by the Chief Judge in front of 30 other judges for his contributions. There is a photo of Toastmasters posing with Air Cadets attached to this email.
Cactus Festival Parades
In 2008, Tony initiated his club's participation in the annual Cactus Festival Parade during August in Dundas. Other local clubs have supported this initiative as well. This has brought great awareness of the Toastmaster program in the area and members have learned over the years that some people joined various clubs because they saw Toastmasters in the parade. There is a photo from the most recent parade attached.
Arthritis Society of Canada
Eleven years ago, a coordinator from the Arthritis Society of Canada sent emails to local Toastmaster clubs looking for volunteer presenters. Since then, Tony has done approximately 30 two-hour presentations on managing chronic pain. In 2015, he received the Ontario Provincial award for excellence (see the photo of him with the bouquet and trophy with the young lady). A few years ago, the Society's HQ asked for Tony, the "Toastmaster", to be the MC at a local fundraising walkathon.
Hamilton SMOG Hockey Team
This may appear to be unrelated, however, it was significant for older hockey players. As captain of the Hamilton SMOG, Tony facilitated co-ed (male and female) participation in a men's league. One year, his team won a tournament in Newmarket with a good mix. See the two photos. Activities like this are important to "social" improvement.
Young Taiwanese Merchants Association
This is one of Tony's favourite stories. At the last minute, he was "promoted" to be the primary keynote speaker at a conference for the Young Taiwanese Merchants Association of Toronto. Instead of presenting to a smaller group in a classroom, Tony made a longer presentation on "Overcoming the barriers to multi-cultural communication" in a large ballroom in front of 160 attendees, television, radio and newspaper crews. There is a photo of a newspaper article in a Chinese newspaper attached. Tony was also personally interviewed on the radio.
Over the years, Tony has also made presentations to the City of Hamilton Health Unit (6), Free Masons of Hamilton and the Women's Institute of Canada. He has also been called upon to provide advice on many speech contests and debating activities by volunteer organizations.