Attorney Jim Catanzaro, Jr., of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel says it’s imperative for him contribute to the greater Chattanooga community both in a professional capacity and as a volunteer.
As a lawyer, Catanzaro provides legal advice and representation for health care entities and nonprofits. As a volunteer, he’s lending his professional expertise, as well as his perspective as a citizen, to the boards of Goodwill Industries, the United Way, Reflection Riding and the Chattanooga Food Bank, where he’s served as chairman.
“I grew up with certain benefits. And my children had the same advantages,” he says. “But many in our community don’t have the access we did. That drives me to give back and hopefully make a difference.”
Catanzaro’s newest volunteer endeavor involves guiding the board of The Speech and Hearing Center as it executes a soon-to-be-unveiled three-year strategic plan for serving the Chattanooga area. He assumed the position of board chair in January.
“I saw how deficits in audiology and speech can impact a child’s education and development and was moved as a parent to offer my skills in helping nonprofits with governance and outreach,” Catanzaro says.
The Speech and Hearing Center’s president and CEO, Taylor Bostwick, says the contributions of Catanzaro and other members of the community is critical as the nonprofit group strives to provide equitable access to its specialized services.
“There are many barriers to health care. Our mission is to eliminate them because the people who most need our services are the ones who are going without,” Bostwick says. “And the specialized services we offer are not inexpensive.”
Since the obstacles Bostwick mentioned affect patients that range in age from “twinkles to wrinkles,” as Bostwick puts it, The Speech and Hearing Center serves people along the entire life continuum.
“With respect to therapy, we focus on children. We strive to identify and treat kids in that zero to three space because research proves if you reach a child that has a communication disorder or developmental delay before the age 3, then you’ll have your best chance of mitigating the negative effects of that disorder on the rest of their life.”
When it comes to audiology, which involves the treatment of patients with hearing loss, the Speech and Hearing Center focuses on adults, Bostwick explains.
“We try to keep older adults healthy and connected to the world around them because studies prove hearing loss places you on a slippery slope from social isolation to depression to dementia. Untreated hearing loss is a major problem.”
The biggest challenge facing The Speech and Hearing Center is access, especially for people who can’t pay for its services. To that end, Bostwick notes, the center accepts both private insurance as well as public coverage such as Medicare and Medicaid.
“We also have a sliding fee scale,” she continues. “For those who can’t afford our services, we use the federal poverty guidelines and their household income to reduce their fee to what they can afford.
“So, on the outside, we look like an outpatient medical clinic, but internally, we function as a nonprofit. All the dollars that come in are used to help those in the community that otherwise couldn’t pay for our services.”
Catanzaro says as chair, he’ll facilitate collaboration as the board works with Bostwick to execute the new strategic plan.
“We’ll be collaborating with Taylor to reach her big–picture goals. We’ll also be creating awareness of the need for our services and bringing a community-wide perspective to the center. Each one of our board members contributes a unique perspective to our work, as well as ideas no one else has.”
Bostwick says the contribution of the board will be invaluable as The Speech and Hearing Center pursues the overarching theme of its new strategic plan – growth.
“The center has evolved over the past 70 years depending on what the community needed. And right now, we need to expand because there’s more need out there than can be met. We intend to be a real presence in the community and the source of help for everyone with a speech or hearing issue.”
While Catanzaro is pleased to serve, he credits his firm with giving him the breathing room he needs to be able to contribute.
“I’m proud to work at a firm like Chambliss because we value our roots and our connections with our community,” he says. “Chattanooga has been good to us, and we need to support it in every way we can.”
Bostwick says she’s thrilled The Speech and Hearing Center has that support.
“We’re excited about the next three years. If you’ve been touched by the Speech and Hearing Center, and if you’ve seen our services in action, then you know how vital they are.”