When Gayle Heldmann searched for a guest speaker to address her church support group, it was no easy task. With meetings every week – and no budget – it quickly became a daunting task.
“Our group was always looking for local speakers to come in and talk to us about a variety of topics,” said Heldmann, of Naperville. “It was always very difficult to find someone who was willing to do it for a nominal fee or for no fee at all, and we didn’t have funds for it,” she said.
Heldmann started searching online, and found a website touting professional speakers that were willing to donate their time and talents. It seemed “too good to be true.”
“I found FreeSpeakers.org and was amazed at the variety of topics and the quantity of speakers available,” Heldmann said. “But I was thinking, there has to be a catch, because there is no way this service would be offered without some sort of fee involved.”She was wrong. Within weeks, she had secured speakers to address the New Beginnings group of about 30 people during their weekly meetings at St. Raphael Catholic Church in Naperville.
Free Speakers, formerly known as Free Speech, was founded in 1996 by area business owner Ginny Richardson. What originally started as a typed list of about a dozen speakers mailed to area organizations has grown into an online pro bono speaker bureau with more than 150 members.
By Jane Donahue
Naperville Sun – Chicago Tribune – January 31, 2016