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Copper Country man gifted ‘Hearing for the Holidays’

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Melissa Collard, audiologist with U.P. Audiology, slips one of Tom Talvensaari’s new hearing aids into his ear on Thursday.

Tom Talvensaari has had hearing aids for 35 years. But his insurance doesn’t cover them anymore, unless he can drive to Marquette every time he needs them serviced, or to see an audiologist.

“So he has hearing aids now. They’re older,” said Melissa Collard, Talvensaari’s audiologist at U.P. Audiology. “He’s had so many issues with them.”

She said it is past time for Talvensaari to get new hearing aids. He was even using “loaners” when he came into Collard’s office Thursday. However, his insurance wouldn’t pay for them or any other replacement.

That’s where Hearing for the Holidays comes in. For three years now, U.P. Audiology accepts nominations for people in the community and selects two, one from their Houghton office, and one from their Iron Mountain office, to receive new hearing aids.

“The hearing aids he’s getting are top of the line, best technology out there, almost $6,000 hearing aids,” Collard said.

They will connect to his phone and TV directly as well as amplifying ambient sound.

Talvensaari was nominated anonymously.

“The letter was very nice. Just, you know, ‘Tom’s a great guy and he’s kind and he’s good to his family and helps his friends and he’s an avid outdoorsman and he’s busy and he just needs to hear the world’,” Collard said. “Which we totally agree with.”

Talvensaari said being able to hear the TV is “huge,” because otherwise he has to turn it up so loud it bothers other people. He said they help when he uses the phone a lot, too.

“All around, it’s just so much better,” he said. “I mean, just talking to people and getting the right information that I should be getting.”

He said people who have always had good hearing don’t realize what a disadvantage not being able to hear well is.

Collard said that U.P. Audiology gives ‘Hearing for the Holidays’ as a way of showing appreciation to the community for their trust and support through the year. She said that she and the rest of the office staff enjoy it so much that it feels “almost selfish”.

“We’re really appreciative of this community, and how supportive they are of us and like I said it’s just our little way to give back,” Collard said.

Talvensaari said U.P. Audiology has been doing a wonderful job working with his old hearing aids, but he was humbled, and happy to get the new pair.

“It means a lot to be able to hear,” he said.

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