In 2019, a passionate group of Toastmasters got together one April evening inside a Sobeys conference room in Milton, Ontario and committed to developing a new Toastmasters club. They had yet to decide on a club name. But, after the meeting, as they stood chatting in the parking lot, they had a clear view of the Niagara escarpment, which dominates the Milton skyline. The name was decided. Milton Escarpment Toastmasters (METM), formerly Escarpment Toastmasters, was born.
METM’s big sister, Milton Toastmasters, had been a successful club in Milton for 40 years. The Milton community was booming and the club’s membership was growing with it. With a priority to do something positive for the community, three members, Karen Pantaleo, DTM, Lou Mulligan, DTM and Louis Li recognized it was time to branch out. The team of three, with the support of the Milton Toastmasters club, sacrificed many personal hours to promote the new club and held unchartered meetings for a year to get the club going. The club moved out of the Sobey’s conference room and settled into their new home at the Martindale Gardens Retirement Residence. Unbeknownst to them, a pandemic was about to hold the world hostage. On March 11, 2020 the WHO declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. On March 21, 2020 METM was chartered.
The reality of the pandemic was in full swing. The pandemic left many isolated, inactive and with impaired mental health. In parallel, it was also an opportunity for people to try something different. Since in-person meetings were no longer possible, the club switched gears quickly and hopped aboard the virtual-conferencing train. METM maintained an opportunity to reconnect, branch out, and provided a safe space to anyone looking to improve their public speaking skills.
However, virtual engagement was not without its challenges. Adapting to fit the confines of a computer screen full-time was not ideal for everyone, and some charter members moved on. But the nascent club remained undeterred. Full steam ahead to rebuild the club, the executive committee demonstrated its value with leadership and structured meetings. They put a comprehensive Club Success Plan into practice to drive membership during the challenges of COVID. As a result, members were inspired to push their personal boundaries. Mentoring relationships were cultivated to support and encourage individuals. Despite the technical glitches, latency issues and struggles to toggle the mute button, the membership persevered.
In a short period, the club achieved many milestones. Within the first three and a half months of its charter, the club achieved Distinguished Status, the Ovation/Education Award Silver Level for online attendance and education goal achievement, and the Membership Resiliency Award for membership growth during the COVID-19 lockdown. As the club grew, METM received a 2021 Smedley Award for acquiring 5 new or reinstated members from August 1 to September 30, 2021. In June 2022, METM achieved the President’s Distinguished Club recognition, the highest level of recognition available for meeting the membership prerequisite.
Every member and guest of our club has shown great resolve during two years of a heartbreaking pandemic. This year, the club transitioned to hybrid meetings to make the club accessible to anyone interested in joining. A club that grows together, stays together and METM has been growing together every week, on its journey to extraordinary!
Milton Escarpment Toastmasters celebrates its third anniversary this year. The club meets every Thursday evening from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Community Living North Halton (917 Nipissing Rd B) in Milton, ON. If you’d like to visit our club register to reserve your spot on Eventbrite at https://metm.eventbrite.ca.
Created by Simi Lachman, Milton Escarpment Toastmasters