Archives for 2017

Ear Community Timeline – How Ear Community began (2010 to Present)…

Ear Community

Some may wonder how does a nonprofit get started.  Here is the timeline story of how the Ear Community Organization became a nonprofit organization after beginning as an online support group.

September 2009, Melissa Tumblin’s daughter was born and she couldn’t find the answers she was looking for about why her child was born with Microtia and Atresia.

May 20, 2010
, Melissa Tumblin started the
“Microtia and Atresia Support Group” on Facebook to help connect families and to help others in the same situation.  She and her daughter also didn’t want to be alone with Microtia and Atresia.  This support group quickly became a global support group within the first year.

June 2010, Melissa attends a training course in IEP and 504 Plans to her learn how to help children and their families advocate better who have hearing loss in the school classroom.

June 11, 2011, Melissa Tumblin and her family host the first “Microtia and Atresia Support Group” family picnic for Microtia and Atresia families in Denver, Colorado.  After driving around to 13 grocery stores asking for gift cards to be donated to help provide food for this event, Cochlear Americas and Oticon Medical offer to help with this picnic after discovering the help that Melissa and her family were offering to the community.

October 11, 2012, Melissa Tumblin begins working on creating the Ear Community website that would be used as a portal of information to help medical professionals and families with loved ones who have Microtia and Atresia all over the world.

February 12, 2012, the Ear Community website is launched and a press release goes out announcing that the website is the “First to offer support and resources to individuals and families around the world living with Microtia and Atresia and associated syndromes including Hemifacial Microsomia.

During February of 2012, Melissa Tumblin was encouraged by many to start a nonprofit organization for the Microtia and Atresia community.

February 2012 – As a stay at home parent, concerned about the amount of work that may be involved with running a nonprofit organization, Melissa Tumblin reached out to a couple of local 501c3 nonprofit organizations for guidance, in which one offered to take her under their wing and mentor her.  This nonprofit organization was called the Broomfield Community Foundation, the city’s community organization in which Melissa lives in in Colorado (Broomfield).

On August 16, 2012, after applying, interviewing, and presenting to the Broomfield Community Foundation, the Foundation agreed to take Melissa and the Ear Community Organization under their wing and grant her 501c3 status through their organization as a fiscal sponsor recipient.  Till this day, the Broomfield Community Foundation remains impressed with Melissa’s drive to help Microtia and Atresia families find answers and support about Microtia and Atresia.

During the summer of 2012, Ear Community hosted (7) picnics across the United States, including (2) in Canada.

During the year of 2013, the Ear Community Organization is given the opportunity, through industry relationships that Melissa developed, including Microtia and Atresia donor families, to begin helping children in need of hearing devices obtain donated hearing devices thanks to Cochlear Americas and Oticon Medical believing in Ear Community.  The organization was also able to begin accepting donations with 501c3 status, allowing the organization to award college scholarships and begin to provide for operational costs of the organization.

April 2013, Ear Community is given the opportunity to help further education about Microtia and Atresia with the help of Oticon Medical proudly sponsoring the accredited webinar about Microtia and Atresia through AudiologyOnline, on a Parent’s Perspective about Microtia and Atresia.  This course continues to remain a helpful educational resource for medical professionals and families of loved ones with Microtia and Atresia.

July 2013, Ear Community is invited to present about Microtia and Atresia  at the EAA (Educational Audiology Association) conference.

2014 till present, Ear Community continues to give back to the Microtia and Atresia community, globally, by hosting (6-7) picnic events each summer that bring families together in the same situation.  Some abroad Ear Community picnic locations include Denmark, South Africa, Australia, the UK, Spain, and Canada.  Ear Community continues donating hearing devices (over 60 hearing devices donated since 2016), awarding college scholarships, and helping with financial assistance toward surgical travel cost reimbursement when funds are available.

April 2015, Melissa Tumblin is asked to sit on the advisory board for :Project MyEar” in hopes of helping with the development of stem cell research for bioengineering ear cartilage.

June 29, 2016, Melissa Tumblin finally believes that she is ready to apply for 501c3 status for Ear Community to become its own entity.  Ear Community, Inc. was proudly awarded 501c3 status by the IRS just two months later (August), after applying.

September 2016, Melissa Tumblin presents another webinar that is proudly sponsored by Oticon Medical and offered through AudiologyOnline, helping discuss the struggles about unilateral hearing loss for children, after advocating for her daughter for the past 7 years.  This webinar continues to be viewed and was organized in hopes of promoting educational awareness about how hearing loss can affect individuals differently, even if they still have one working ear.

November 9, 2016, in an effort to help promote educational awareness and to help raise public awareness, including stopping the bullying, Melissa Tumblin applies for a National Awareness Day for Microtia and Atresia families.  On November 9, 2016, the Ear Community Organization hosts it’s very first National Microtia Awareness Day where families all over the United States, including other countries as well, celebrated our first National Awareness Day together, for Microtia individuals, everywhere.

January 2017
, Melissa Tumblin begins working closely with Vanderbilt University Medical Center on the launch one of the first all options Microtia and Atresia clinic.

Here are also a few helpful articles and resources that may be helpful to families who have loved ones born with Microtia and Atresia:
Our Story article
– Mixed Feelings article
First National Microtia Awareness Day
– Microtia and Atresia webinar through AudiologyOnline (sponsored by Oticon Medical)
How to overcome the struggles of pediatric hearing loss through AudiologyOnline (sponsored by Oticon Medical)

The Ear Community Organization is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Federal Tax ID#46-0923897

Ear Community Announces 2017 Summer Picnics for Families of Children with Microtia and Atresia

AudiologyOnline News Release

The mission of AudiologyOnline is to enhance the quality of life for the patients and clients in the care of the professionals we serve.

We support this mission by:

  • Providing the most relevant, convenient, and economical continuing education opportunities presented and authored by the leading experts in their respective professions to enhance clinical knowledge and skills.
  • Connecting quality professionals to the right job to better serve clients and patients.
  • Enhancing students’ clinical knowledge and skills to become meaningful contributors to the profession.


February 27, 2017


February 20, 2017.  Ear Community, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and global support network for individuals born with microtia and/or atresia, is excited to announce its 2017 schedule of free family picnics.

Since 2011, Ear Community has hosted picnics to bring together families who have children with microtia and atresia. This year’s picnics will take place in the United States in Annapolis, Maryland; Austin, Texas; Broomfield, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Ardsley, New York; and Fort Pierce, Florida. Ear Community’s picnics offer families the opportunity to come together, share experiences, and make new friends. The picnics offer a delicious lunch, as well as plenty of games and activities such as balloon artists and magicians to ensure children have fun.  Parents and caregivers can also meet world-renowned professionals including microtia and atresia repair surgeons, anaplastologists, ENTs, and audiologists, and learn about all the latest hearing and medical devices from representatives of leading device manufacturers. Ear Community thanks the 2017 summer picnic sponsors: Cochlear Americas (Platinum), Oticon Medical (Gold), and Medtronic (Silver), as well as Stryker for providing information about Medpor.

Ear Community believes that education is empowerment, and looks forward to hosting more welcoming and informational experiences for families via this year’s summer picnics. More information including contact information for RSVPs can be found at

For more information about AudiologyOnline, click here.
We look forward to seeing everyone this summer at our organization’s family events!
Ear Community

Mazie receives the gift of hearing thanks to Cochlear Americas and the Ear Community Organization

Mazie Herzing of Richmond, Virginia receives a newly donated Cochlear Americas Baha 5 through the Ear Community Organization on February 16, 2017.

Ear Community is proud to introduce Mazie Herzing, our newest Baha recipient!  She was born last July and diagnosed with Microtia and Atresia of her right ear and Hemifacial Microsomia.  She lives with her big sister, twin brother, and parents Carly and Shelley in Richmond, Virginia, USA.  When Mazie was first diagnosed, her parents were told that she would never have hearing on her right side.  Carly and Shelley went for a second opinion and that was when they were informed about a Baha as a possible way to help little Mazie hear “surround sound.”  Like most parents, Mazie’s moms had worried about the inability for Mazie to access to auditory information.  With Microtia and Atresia being so rare, getting all of the correct information can be hard to come by, so three cheers for Mazie’s parents for looking deeper for solutions that taught them more than they would ever imagine!  While Mazie’s parents were doing their research, Carly’s sister, Amanda Bray (Mazie’s Aunt), was also learning more about Microtia and Atresia and thankfully found the Ear Community Organization.

On February 16th, 2017, the Ear Community Organization was given the opportunity to donate a brand new Cochlear Americas Baha 5 to little Mazie to help her hear better!  When Mazie’s moms anticipated the day of the fitting, the happiness and excitement built even more.  And when Mazie turned her head to Shelley that first time, when listening through her Baha, their hearts exploded with a million and one emotions they could never even explain.”  Mazie’s moms said, “Thank you for helping us give hearing to our littlest one” when they were leaving the audiologists office, Shelley was talking on Mazie’s Microtia side, and she turned her head and smiled which was the first time she had done that!  Mazie is a “brave, tenacious, and stubborn little girl” and Ear Community is thrilled to give her the opportunity to hear through both ears!  Mazie’s big sister said to her, “You can hear out of your baby ear!  You make me so happy!”  This is a great thing for their whole family!

Carly’s sister, Amanda Bray, said, “I truly do not think we can put into words how much this has meant to us. When my sister and Shelley found out about the approval for Mazie to obtain a Baha through Ear Community, I truly do not think they have experienced a happier moment in their entire lives.  Amanda said “I would like to personally thank Ear Community for “hearing” my sister’s story and considering our family for this incredible gift. Your clear commitment to helping the “community” find answers to some of parents and families most difficult questions about these beautiful little miracles is nothing short of amazing.  I hope you know how much you have touched our lives, and I am certain the lives of many, many others. What you have built is incredible on so many levels.

Ear Community would like to say thank you to Meredith Heiner, Au.D., CCC-A at the VCU Health Systems Audiology Department for donating her time to fit and program Mazie’s Baha 5.  Ear Community would like to express a special thank you to Nancy Klein of Cochlear Americas for releasing Mazie’s donated Baha 5 and making sure it made it’s way to Dr. Heiner’s office for Mazie’s fitting.  Mazie would not be able to hear better today if it were not for wonderful corporations like Cochlear Americas who make amazing hearing technology.   From all of us, thank you for helping Mazie hear better!  “Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. It has a dedicated global team of more than 2,500 people who deliver the gift of sound to those with hearing loss in over 100 countries. Its vision is to connect people, young and old, to a world of sound by offering life enhancing hearing solutions. In 2013, Cochlear celebrates 100,000 Baha System users – all with unique stories of how being able to hear again has impacted their lives. The Cochlear promise of “Hear Now. And Always” embodies the company’s commitment to providing its recipients with the best possible hearing performance today and for the rest of their lives.”

We are all so happy that Mazie can hear so much better now and for knowing how bright her future will be from here on out.  We’re also very proud of Mazie’s family for doing their research and finding help through the Ear Community Organization for Mazie and for themselves, as a family.

Mazie, we wish you the best of everything that this world has to offer, and look forward to watching the great impact you’ll have!

Ear Community Organization

2017 Ear Community Microtia and Atresia Summer Family Picnics

2017 Ear Community Microtia and Atresia Summer Family Picnics

Ear Community hosts picnics every year around the world helping bring Microtia and Atresia families together.  This year’s picnics will take place in the United States in Annapolis, Maryland/ Austin, Texas/ Broomfield, Colorado/ Nashville, Tennessee/ Ardsley, New York/ and Fort Pierce, Florida!  It is very exciting for many families! Everyone enjoys attending our picnics and our Ear Community picnics always offer such a wonderful opportunity for Microtia and Atresia families to come together, share experiences with each other, and maybe even make a new friend.  Medical professionals such as world renown Microtia and Atresia repair surgeons, anaplastologists, ENTs, audiologists, and therapists along with the world’s leading hearing device and medical device companies all come together to mingle with us at our picnics, helping educate us on all of our options including hearing loss.

We look forward to seeing you at our Ear Community picnics this year!

Melissa Tumblin,
Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community
Founder of the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook

2017 Ear Community Picnics

Maryland Ear Community Picnic
Annapolis, Maryland
Date:  Saturday June 10th, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:

Texas Ear Community Picnic
Austin, Texas

Date:  Saturday, June 10th, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:

Colorado Ear Community Picnic
Broomfield, Colorado
Date:  Saturday June 24th, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Melissa at:

New York Ear Community Picnic
Ardsley, New York
Date:  Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:

Florida Ear Community Picnic
Fort Pierce, Florida
Date:  Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:

Tennessee Ear Community Picnic
Nashville, Tennessee
Date:  Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
Time:  1PM to 5PM
RSVP to Melissa at:

Vanderbilt University and Children's Hospital

Vanderbilt University and Children’s Hospital

*  This Ear Community picnic will be in collaboration with a FREE surgeon conference that will take place at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  This conference is a wonderful opportunity to learn about all of your options for Microtia and Atresia and again…it is FREE to Microtia and Atresia families as Vanderbilt University and Children’s Hospital is a nonprofit organization.
Our collaborative event will begin at 8:30AM – 5:00PM with educational presentations by:

– Ron Eavey MD SM Director, Professor and Chair for Research and Causes of Congenital Ear Malformation, Vanderbilt
– Scott Stephan MD Facial Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Medpor, Vanderbilt
– Sivakumar Chinnadurai MD MPH Pediatric Otolaryngology Rig Graft, Vanderbilt
– Alejandro Rivas MD Neuro-otology Hearing Restoration in Aural Atresia, Vanderbilt
– Margaret McRedmond Au.D. CCC-A Audiology, Vanderbilt
– Scott Fiscus B.C.O.,  Anaplastology Ear Prosthesis, Nashville, TN
– Parent Panel
*  A delicious lunch will be provided as we kick off our Ear Community picnic along with a face painter, balloon artist, and magician.  We look forward to seeing everyone at our event.  A special thank you to Vanderbilt Medical Center and Dr. Ron Eavey for making this event possible with Ear Community.  Please join us for an amazing day!

National Microtia Awareness Day Ribbon for Ear Community Organization – November 9th, 2017.

Annual National Microtia Awareness Day
Throughout the United States and anywhere wishing to celebrate with all of us!
November 9th, 2017
To hear all about our amazing first National Microtia Awareness Day, please click here
Click here for our press release…
Click here for an interview with AudiologyOnline about National Microtia Awareness Day…
Click here for our radio commercial for raising awareness about Microtia and Atresia…
Coming soon….click (here) anytime during the year to order official National Microtia Awareness t-shirts…


How one father was willing to travel to another country to help his daughter hear better with the help of Oticon Medical and Ear Community

Raheeg Abdelrahman of Sudan, 4 years old, January 2017 recipient of (2) Oticon Medical Ponto Plus’.

We are excited to introduce you to Raheeg Abdelrahman, a lovely four-year-old girl who lives in Sudan with her younger twin siblings, her mother, and her father Eltahir.  She was born with bilateral Microtia and Atresia, her father said that they couldn’t find a hearing device in Sudan so they traveled two days to Egypt in order to meet with an audiologist who could help them find something to help Raheeg hear.  Sadly, due to no insurance and financial difficulty, the family had to return home without a sound processor.

Through Ear Community’s amazing partnership with Oticon Medical, our organization was able to donate two Ponto Plus hearing devices on January 11, 2017 to Raheeg.  Because Raheeg’s family had to travel two days each way from Sudan to Egypt, it was a very exciting trip for her.  Eltahir said, “Please convey my deepest heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of Oticon Medical staff for the help and support they provide to everybody in our Ear Community, and special thanks for Mr. Alan Raffauf, Tove Rosenbom, and Claus Frees Horneman…THANKS to YOU dear friends for giving me hope that my daughter can go to school, hearing sounds and practice her life like other kids.  Thank you for making my impossible dream become real!”

When Raheeg was finally fitted for her Ponto Plus devices, she absolutely loved them and showed very good responses.  Her father said, “She can answer our call easily and surely this will help her to receive her lessons like other kids…it is difficult to get words to express my thanks but I say God bless you!”

Ear Community would like to offer special thanks to the entire team that made it possible for Raheeg to hear.  Thank you to Oticon Medical for donating the Ponto Plus devices and for helping make it possible for Raheeg to receive her new hearing devices.  Thank you to Sr. Director for Clinical Research and Training for BAHS, Dr. Tove Rosenbom, for programming Raheeg’s Pontos and for making sure she had everything she needed with them, including extra batteries.  Thank you to Claus Frees Horneman, the Oticon Medical rep who made sure Raheeg’s devices made it to Egypt by hand delivering them!  We would like to thank the donors to the Ear Community Organization who also helped make it possible for Raheeg to receive her hearing devices, including donors who are friends and relatives to the late Curt Gorman and Gabe Murphy who wanted to help a child hear better.

A very special thank you to Alan Raffauf, Vice President of Marketing for Oticon Medical US, for choosing to donate two new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus hearing devices to Ear Community so they could be donated to Raheeg to help her hear better during her early years.   As a tribute to Curt Gorman, Oticon Medical’s past president, who passed away in August of 2015, may Raheeg thrive in the hearing world with her new hearing devices and never miss a beat as she continues to grow.  Curt Gorman had a passion for helping children hear better as he was a pioneer in the hearing device industry, especially for bone anchored hearing devices.   Many who loved and knew Curt have made donations to also help children hear better through the Ear Community Organization.  Thank you for everyone’s support and for helping Ear Community continue with its mission of helping individuals with Microtia and Atresia. Oticon Medical believes in helping individuals with hearing loss so that they can live a better quality of life. Oticon Medical is a well-respected international hearing device manufacturer that is a part of the “William Demant Group [which has] 100-plus years of experience in audiology and sound processing and established manufacturing and logistics infrastructure.”

Raheeg, we are so proud of you and we hope that you have the very best life possible!  We hope that you flourish and grow, especially now that you have access to the sounds you have craved for so long!  We hope to hear how your life continues to improve and progress, congratulations on hearing your best Raheeg!  Here are some adorable pictures of Raheeg with her brand new Ponto Plus’.

Melissa Tumblin
Founder and Executive Director
and Ear Community Board Members
Ear Community Organization

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