2023 has been another active year for the Handiham Program. As the year opened, we were busy preparing for our first in-person Radio Camp since 2019. Additionally, students were working on the second semester of the virtual Technician Class covering the new question pool that took effect in July of 2022. February brought even more winter weather here in Minnesota as we launched another intermediate level Morse code class.
In March, we started holding regular monthly virtual meetings of the Handiham Radio Club via Zoom and worked on adopting a new constitution and bylaws. Soon, Jerry, W0UH, was elected as the new President of the Handiham Radio Club, giving Linda, N7HVF, a well-deserved break after her long term since the election at Radio Camp in 2019. In March, we also said goodbye to Pemdy, who had been our administrative assistant since 2018. Pemdy was with the Handiham Program for almost five years, and we are grateful for her support during that time.
In April, we wrapped up our first 24 week, two-semester Technician class, and Kevin Lukens got his license just a few weeks later. Kevin, KC3WDG, has enjoyed getting on the air both with his HT and using Echolink, and he is now studying for his General.
In May, we announced the arrival of LaToya, our new administrative assistant who had started in April. As we prepared to head off to Dayton Hamvention, we also wrapped up the intermediate Morse code class with a live QSO during class. It was exciting to see the results from the semester!
Dayton Hamvention was different this year in that we had great weather! For those of you who frequent Dayton Hamvention, you know that often we get exciting weather during that event. It was great to catch up with members who stopped by the booth including Mark Jenal, N2MJT, who shared that he had passed his General exam and was now preparing for his Extra (which he passed in September). Mark had been part of our virtual General class in fall 2021 and the Extra Class in winter/spring 2022. During Hamvention, we found time to talk with people from Kenwood to learn more about the upcoming TH-D75, another blind accessible radio. We also visited the ARDC booth to express our gratitude for their support of the Handiham Program.
In July, we got the sad news that Ron Milliman, K8HSY, was a silent key. Ron had been with the Handiham Program for many years, and he most recently had taught a series of classes on homemade antennas for our 55th anniversary celebration week. He is missed by all.
In August, we got the sad news that Bob Zeida, N1BLF, was also a silent key. Bob had read for the Handiham Program for many years in addition to recording books for the blind and visually impaired. We wish his family well as they grieve his loss.
Over the summer months, we were busy getting the final plans together for our first hotel-based Radio Camp. Before we knew it, September was here, and campers were flying in from all over the US plus one camper who came all the way from Munich, Germany. One comment that we heard from campers and volunteers alike was how much everyone enjoyed spending time with each other. During camp, we had classes that covered everything from weather spotting for the visually impaired to antenna theory and construction. Every camper stated they want to return next year! We also got to hold an in-person and virtual Handiham Radio Club meeting during camp, which was really special.
Sadly, in early September, we said goodbye to LaToya. In the short time that she was with us, she made a positive impact on many members. We then started the process of finding another administrative assistant which is ongoing.
In late September, we began our first virtual advanced level Morse code class. While our initial goal was 20 words per minute, we realized we needed to advance that goal to 25 as the students were rapidly progressing. It is an exciting “problem” to have! We kept students busy in December with a series of QSOs about Kris, KR1NGL, and his struggle as he tests new equipment for the busy night ahead. This is a two-semester class that wrapped up this week, and the second semester starts in mid-February.
In late September, we also started our first two-semester virtual General Class license class using the new question pool that took effect in July. The students have been faithful in attending the weekly classes and studying so they can be ready for their General exam when class wraps up in early April of 2024.
In October, we started working on getting the contracts ready for the 2024 Radio Camp. While it seems like it is far away, we are realizing how fast it is coming! We are making plans to improve the camp experience based on everything we learned from this year’s camper and volunteer feedback.
November was busy with camp plans, Morse code classes, and General classes, which brings us to December. Another year went by so fast but with many exciting things happening as the Handiham Program continues to grow and evolve. I want to say a special thank you to our many members who faithfully help other members, honoring the tradition of elmers in the ham radio hobby. I came up through the Handiham Program as a member and later a volunteer. Now I am privileged to be the one running the Program, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings!
The Handiham Program will be closed for the annual holiday break and will reopen on January 8th. I look forward to connecting with you after the break! Also, remember to attend the next Handiham Radio Club meeting on January 7th at 3pm Central Time.
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!