Our friend and fellow distributor Deanna and her husband David, have been a true inspiration to so many people. Deanna and David share their story of meeting and working in the deaf community and how their lives have changed because of 2 deaf people that ultimately changed their lives and the lives of hundreds of others. This is a wonderfull inspiring story. Thank you Dianna for sharing with us.
May 25, 2011
Dear Distributors and Customers,
Growing up, I had never been around a deaf person. In my adult life, I had never had an opportunity to associate with anyone who is deaf. Eleven years ago, David and I were working a Home Improvement Show, and a deaf couple came to the booth. David encouraged them to sign up for an in-home trial of the Multi-Pure and told them I would bring one over for them to try for a week.
I was a nervous wreck! I had no idea how it was going to work. One of my distributors, Erin Mortlock, knew some sign language, so I asked her if she would come with me. She gladly volunteered, anxious to practice her sign language. Del and Pattie Will graciously welcomed us, the demo went well, and we left the Multi-Pure for a week.
Erin could not accompany me for the close, but I was comfortable going alone. I knew that we could communicate because they read lips and we could write. When I arrived, Del had a list of about 20 thoughtful intelligent questions to ask me, more than anyone I had ever met during my Multi-Pure career! We went through the questions, one by one. I was still a little worried that they might not understand, so wrote out the answers, and was there for close to three hours! At the end, they said they would like to buy a Multi-Pure!! I was so tickled. They had been spending about $350 a year on bottled water, and the Multi-Pure would save them a ton of money, and tasted a lot better.
Then I asked if they would like to be distributors, and they said they didn’t think so. Then I told them that they might have a friend who would like to buy one, so they reluctantly signed up. About three months later, they showed up at my training classes. They said that they had several friends who were interested in buying a filter and that they would like to know how to sell them. This was the beginning of a most amazing journey, for me, for our network—and Multi-Pure!
We became best friends with Pattie and Del and found out that we had a lot in common. They invited us to their home for dinner, and we had them to our house. David says that Pattie is the best cook in the whole wide world. (Until we met Pattie, I proudly held that title . . . ) Del works for the Bureau of Land Management, is very clever in woodworking, and can construct just about anything. Pattie is an artist and can do anything she sets her mind to. They love to fish, and frequently take off for the weekend with their boat and camper and bring home a hefty catch.
The next thing I knew, Del and Pattie were under sinks, installing Multi-Pure systems for their friends. At that time, I had never done an installation and was terrified. It did not faze them a bit.
Pattie gave me a TTY machine, a special typewriter that works on the phone line. For the first couple of years, I was the only go-between with Multi-Pure and our distributors who are deaf. I placed orders and solved problems for them all. Over the next few years, our deaf community of Multi-Pure customers and distributors grew, and now numbers several hundred.
As I became more educated about the deaf and hard of hearing, I had a serious talk with H. Allen Rice, Multi-Pure’s CEO, about how to improve the communication with Multi-Pure and our distributors. Multi-Pure put systems in place to allow distributors to communicate directly with MP, without going through me. When we had corporate meetings, Multi-Pure hired an interpreter. Closed captions were added to videos/DVDs.
I encouraged those distributors who read lips to try working some of our “hearing” shows. It was difficult, but they persevered. I remember going with Rita Wallberg to a demo with a hearing family. Right at the beginning, she informed the customer, “I’m deaf. I’m reading your lips. Please let me know if you don’t understand something so that I can make sure that you get it!.” It totally took the edge off for the customer and Rita soon became a Master Builder, selling to both the deaf and the hearing community.
The next thing I knew, we were working “Deaf” shows in Seattle, Portland, and as far away as Pleasanton, California. Deaf shows are a rare experience. Several thousand people in a huge room, and you can hear a pin drop because everyone is signing. We were a team and worked our fannies off. We adapted our sink so that we could give samples of Multi-Pure water AND tap water. Prior to that, we only gave away filtered water. We found that the deaf community was very tuned in to the difference in taste and samples of both would frequently make a sale. We made many changes to make it easier for our deaf people that helped our entire network.
Now you are probably wondering if I have learned sign language. I can say, “dirty water,” and “clean water” and “I love you” and “I’m happy to meet you.” I want to learn more, but just haven’t been able to dedicate the space on my memory hard drive to get it going. One of these days . . . At deaf shows, I haul water and stand at the sink giving away samples of “dirty water” and “clean water”. As soon as I “hook” a customer, I give them away to someone who signs.
I have come to realize that a deaf distributor has to work 10 times harder than a hearing distributor to make a sale. The deaf community is frequently under-employed, under-educated, and money is even tighter than it is in the general population. And yet, they need good water too. I’ve seen serious sacrifices made to purchase a Multi-Pure, when they “get it” and know how important good water is to the health of their family.
Multi-Pure continues to support these distributors and technology has improved since the “TTY” days, making it much easier to communicate. Most of my distributors who are deaf now have “video relay” which is just like talking on the phone to a hearing person. An interpreter can see them signing through a video machine, and speaks directly to the hearing person, so there is no delay like there was with the TTY machine and it is much easier to talk.
We all text back and forth and I find that having unlimited texting means that we can jabber whenever we want to. Friendships have blossomed throughout our network with hearing distributors and distributors who are deaf, and we are all part of the Multi-Pure “family”.
I remember a particularly poignant moment when I said to Rita, “You may not want to room with me at the Seattle Deaf Nation because I snore!!” She laughed and informed me that it wouldn’t bother her a bit. It hit me that I no longer remembered that Rita was deaf, I was just worried about her not being able to sleep with my snoring.
Rita attended the Multi-Pure conference again with us this year. We were doubly blessed to have Dorothy Shinshiro attend as well, and serve as Rita’s interpreter. American Sign Language was Dorothy’s first language, since she was born to deaf parents. She is the most amazing person and we watched as she nimbly signed words like “trihalomethanes” and “disinfection by-products” faster than lightening! Her good sense of humor helped us all to appreciate the challenges in interpreting super technical information. She did it with ease and Rita didn’t miss a beat.
As I’m typing this message to you, I have tears streaming down my cheeks thinking about how much we have been blessed in working with the deaf community. David and I are so grateful to have close friends who are deaf and have introduced us to another culture and helped us to feel at home.
I have to chuckle when I think back to eleven years ago when I was so very nervous when I first met Pattie and Del. Our lives are now so much richer for these friendships. Our network is stronger because of the changes they have brought in how we do things. We’ve blessed their lives with better health through clean drinking water and personal growth as they have learned how to share Multi-Pure and stretched through their comfort zones to be top-notch distributors.