Updated May 18, 2020
As a global community, we are facing unprecedented challenges as the result of the ongoing Coronavirus COVID19 pandemic. Per government and Toastmasters International guidance, all in-person Toastmasters meetings have been suspended until further notice. Key District, Division and Area meetings, as well as most club meetings, have transitioned to an online format for the duration of this emergency.
In accordance with research and government guidance, the District leadership team urges all Toastmasters clubs to consider themselves non-essential programs, and to delay re-opening in-person until the last phase of re-opening has begun in your home state.
Neither the District, nor any of our Divisions/Areas, will be authorized to host in-person events until these last-phase periods of reopening has begun. We will continue to operate online until we are advised otherwise by Toastmasters International. Additionally, we encourage all members to avoid crossing state lines for Toastmasters events or programs until both states’ last re-opening phase has begun.
We encourage you to continue practicing flexibility and adaptability in your planning and club management during this time.
The District will host its annual Business Meeting online, on Saturday, May 30 from 3:00pm to 5:00 pm. Due to the rules for online meetings, only Club Presidents and Vice Presidents of Education may vote; no proxies may attend or vote.
We will review District finances and vote on:
For members who had registered for the 2020 conference:
The District Registration Manager, Finance Manager, and Program Quality Director are working through the task of issuing refunds. As financial institutions instituted anti-fraud measures in the wake of COVID-19, the links between the District’s PayPal account and bank accounts had been severed and we’re experiencing challenges to re-establish them. All monies collected is still available and all tickets will be fully refunded, but the process for establishing a paper trail by GAAP and Toastmasters audit procedures have been hampered, and consequently taking longer than we had anticipated. District 53 has taken all reasonable actions, and we are awaiting final settlement by the relevant financial institutions. In the interim, we will continue to work on resolving this issue as soon as feasibly possible.
The District International Speech Contest will occur on Saturday, May 30, 2020, from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm (end time approximate). Briefings for contestants, judges and functionaries will begin at 9:00 am, with scheduled appearance on Zoom by 8:45 am.
Winners of District Evaluation Contest held on May 16, 2020:
1st Place: Laura Amodeo
2nd Place: Chad Babcock
3rd Place: Rajasekar Narayanan
We urge clubs to begin opening communications channels with their former meeting places: since many businesses and public locations may change their policies and procedures for outside groups. Clubs should ascertain whether or not they may resume club activities at their locations after
re-opening, or find a new meeting location.
The Board of Directors has made the exception that all clubs in all Districts can meet entirely online as needed until further notice. Read the March 12th statement (PDF) from Toastmasters International. We invite all District 53 clubs to begin meeting online, and to use the Internet to “close the social distance” with fellowship and community interaction in challenging times.
Looking to grow your attendance or membership and capitalize with online access? There are great ways to do that safely and securely.
As there are more instances of Zoom hacking, it's important to avoid posting your meeting links on social media or public platforms. Instead the safest way to publicize is post a contact person's email for meeting information for non-members.
If you are online, you can let District and Toastmasters website visitors know. Indicate that in you Club Demographic section of Club Central, by clicking the "Yes" button for Online Attendance and save their changes. This will let members and potential guests know that individuals can participate in the club online.
The District has a Meetup account where we promote the open clubs. If your club is meeting online and open to guests, please EMAIL us to let us know so that we can properly promote your club.
Area, Division, or District events may not be conducted in person, on or prior to June 1, 2020. As an alternative, we encourage Areas, Divisions, and Districts to host events online to help clubs and members through this difficult time. We expect updated guidance from the Toastmasters International Board of Directors prior to June 1, 2020.
The District contracted with a marketing firm, Momentum Advertising, for a marketing campaign directed at drawing guests to our clubs’ physical locations. Due to the disruption of club meeting locations, we have paused the planned marketing campaign until further notice; our plans are to resume this campaign in the 2020-2021 program year.
Toastmasters International is monitoring the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on clubs and members around the world, as well as the effect on current and upcoming District activities. Refer to the Toastmasters COVID-19 webpage for the latest messages and updates from International Headquarters. Please watch this accompanying video from International President Deepak Menon regarding the coronavirus.