SERvice TO MAnkind has been the purpose of Sertoma International for over 100 years. Sertomans across the country are unified with a single purpose: serve our communities and improve the lives of those who need help. Sertoma’s mission is to improve the quality of life for those at risk or impacted by hearing loss through education and support.  Over the years, Sertoma has been recognized for its work at the highest levels, by Presidents Truman and Reagan as well as by many national organizations that support hearing and speech health.


Historic Highlights Through the Decades


On April 5, 1912, 26 business men attended the first organized meeting of the Stand Together Club in Kansas City, MO, to interest community leaders in joining charitable efforts. On April 11, 1912, meeting as the new Co-Operative Club, they held the first official luncheon meeting at the Coates Hotel in Kansas City—now considered the founding meeting and date of Sertoma. The organizers of that meeting, George W. Smith, MD, Charles E. Allen, MD, and newspaper publisher William L. Rowe, are considered the Founding Fathers of today’s Sertoma.


  • The first convention was held June 21, 1921 in Kansas City, with 32 delegates representing 6 clubs.

  • In the 1930’s, the first Sugar Bowl was played in New Orleans under the sponsorship of the Co-Operative Club, which held a football contest over the Christmas holidays. The first game was played on January 1, 1935 at Tulane University Stadium,  between the Tulane Green Wave took and the Temple Owls.

  • September 1, 1943 saw the merger of National Monarch Clubs and the Co-Operative Clubs International.  In 1946, the first Canadian club was chartered in Windsor, Ontario, making the organization truly international.

  • In 1950, annual convention delegates adopted a new name: SERTOMA, a contraction for the theme “SERvice TO Mankind,” with the tag line: “Make Life Worthwhile through SERvice TO MAnkind.”

  • On November 15, 1960, the Sertoma Foundation was established to strengthen the partnership between Sertoma and its many local clubs. In 1963, Sertoma clubs identified hearing health (including speech problems brought on by hearing loss) as a national focus.

  • In 1971, the Sertoma Foundation also adopted Speech and Hearing as it foremost national focus.

  • In 1985, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association presented Sertoma with their Distinguished Service Award, recognizing the organization’s dedication and contributions to speech pathology and audiology.

  • Women were welcomed into the organization in 1985. The first all-female club was the First Progressive Sertoma Club in Tampa, Florida, chartered November 22, 1985.  (The Uptown Club of Spartanburg was organized soon after on November 17, 1987, holding its charter banquet on January 22, 1988.)

  • In 1990, Astronaut Lt. Col. Charles Gemar carried his Sertoma membership pin into space as he orbited the Earth on Space Shuttle Atlantis.


The 21st Century

  • Sertoma’s first female president was Diana Caine-Helwig, who served in 2001-2002.

  • In January 2005, Sertoma adopted SAFEEars! as an awareness program for the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). In its first year, Sertoma distributed information on how to protect the gift of hearing to over 250,000 individuals.

  • In recent years, Sertoma has assisted local clubs in building programs to address the health issue of hearing and speech loss, and to collect hearing aids for reconditioning and distribution to those in need.  Local Sertoma Clubs support many other charities, providing volunteers, funding, education on community issues, and scholarships in their communities through a variety of events and initiatives.



Some noises are just too loud for your ears, like a lawn mower or jet engine. If a noise makes you feel uncomfortable, it is probably too loud and could result in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Although research is ongoing, currently NIHL is permanent and irreversible, but it is preventable.

SAFEEars!® strives to motivate individuals of all ages to take action against noise-induced hearing loss by understanding the cause and the solutions, because damage incurred today can last a lifetime. By clicking on the link, you can discover how sensorineural hearing loss (hearing loss due to excessive exposure to noise) can affect your hearing, through a Hearing Loss Simulator, courtesy of the Better Hearing Institute.


How can I get my community involved in SAFEEars®?

We have a variety of SAFEEars materials for all kinds of settings – from elementary, middle or high school, to the work place, club meetings and more. Earplugs, bookmarks, posters and bags provide opportunities for individuals to influence others and create awareness in regards to noise-induced hearing loss.


Click here to request your SAFEEars® materials