FECTS Director Message
- Written by Colleen Gallant
WOW. Here we are and it is already fall.
We had a great summer with so many things going on at Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
Our 150th anniversary celebration in San Antonio was incredible. There were so many more people at the convention this year than last year which helped us tremendously with the raffle we had at the major projects booth. We sold chances on a men’s .5 carat diamond ring, a black onyx ring and two Elk bolo ties. We raised more than $5,400 for our major projects. I thank all who participated in the raffle.
I am happy to report that we now have 28 therapists working for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. Our 27th therapist started in September and our 28th therapist will start with FECTS Oct. 29. Since the beginning of the year, we have hired Samantha Yox, DPT who covers the North Central and Central districts; Camille Arevalo, OTR/L who covers the South District; Rebecca Fenner, OTR/L who covers the North Central, Central, West Central, and Southwest Central districts; and Tina Morris, RPT who will cover the South Southeast District.
After we returned from the national convention, we started our travels once again with our state president. At each visit, a therapist speaks, and in some cases, a family member speaks on behalf of a child being treated. It is so amazing to hear a parent tell their story of how much their lives have improved because of the treatment our therapists provide. We heard a retired veteran tell us how helpless he felt when he could not help his newborn son and had to depend on our therapist to help his son get strong and healthy like his twin brother. Each time I hear one of these stories, I am even more grateful to be a part of such an amazing organization that cares so deeply for our children, especially the ones who cannot help themselves.
Our FECTS CHAMP of the year, Jackson Barth, was featured in the summer edition of our magazine, and on Sept. 19, Jackson had surgery at Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. On my way to the FLOE convention, I stopped to visit Jackson and he was doing amazingly well. What a trooper he is. Our COO/State Secretary, Carl Seibert, sent out a blast email and I am so happy to tell you that many of our members, lodges and districts sent cards and goodies to Jackson. He was so excited to hear from so many Elks and ladies organizations. I have seen the joy on Jackson’s face when he sees and hears from his newly found Elk family. I am extremely grateful to all who made Jackson our special little guy.
We recently returned from the FLOE convention and the ladies continue to amaze us all with their fundraising activities. Last year at convention, we distributed certificates recognizing $30,576.90 in donations, and this year, I am so pleased to tell you that the certificates that we distributed were for $44,689.11, which is a difference of $14,112.21. WOW. Mary McCoy’s motto was “Stick your Neck out for a Child,” and I would say that they more than accomplished the FLOE president’s goal over the past year. Thank you, all, for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate all you do for us at Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. Yvette Lambert, PT of the Southwest and West Central districts was a guest speaker. As always, she did an excellent job of speaking as well as interacting with everyone in the audience.
As we all know, our therapists are therapists and not public speakers. However, they do a great job of making presentations anytime we ask them to speak. Remember, if you would like to have a therapist at your lodge for an event, visit floridaelks.org, go to the Therapy Services section and complete a therapist participation form. We are always happy to be at your events when possible.
The weekend of Oct. 5-7 is family camp for our therapists and for our therapy families. It is a time where each child is treated just like every other child attending the Florida Elks Youth Camp. On Friday night, we will have a dance party in the gym after dinner. On Saturday morning, there will be time on the ropes course, arts and crafts, lunch, and pool time. Their open time includes archery, lake time, coloring, gym and leisure time. After dinner there will be a bonfire and then a movie. The weekend concludes with Sunday’s breakfast. Siblings who are typically able will have separate events where they can interact with other children who have a brother or sister being treated by FECTS and are in a similar position. There will be camp counselors there for those children so that they have the full camp experience. This event is the highlight of the year for our therapy families and they are very grateful for the opportunity to go to camp.
Just a reminder: so many lodges are very generous at Christmastime when it comes to our therapy families. If you want to be sure that the therapist in your district gets the special donations you make at Christmastime, please do not make checks payable to the therapist. Making a check payable to a therapist can look like additional income if they deposit it in their personal accounts. Please make your check payable to Harry-Anna Investment Fund and send it to my attention. I will make sure that the therapist in your district knows how much has been donated from each lodge or district. This will also enable me to send a thank-you note to each lodge. The therapists sincerely appreciate any donations that you make for them to purchase Christmas presents for their many patients whose parents cannot afford them.
The new brochure for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services is now available. Be sure to contact our offices to order new brochures.
State President Frank Malatesta’s motto is “Make the Best Better.” After what I have seen throughout the state in support of Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services, I must agree that the Elks of Florida along with all the ladies organizations do indeed make the best better!
Thank you for your continued support of Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Colleen Gallant, Director
Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services