FECTS Director Message
- Written by Colleen Gallant
It’s hard to imagine we are already halfway through the summer. So many great things are happening with Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.t’s hard to imagine we are already halfway through the summer. So many great things are happening with Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
We are fully staffed with a total of 28 therapists – 21 occupational therapists and seven physical therapists.
Our new therapists are doing well and while we have one therapist on leave until August, we continue to do an amazing job of treating the children of Florida. Over the past couple of months, our therapists have treated an average of 509 children each week and our contract therapists have treated an additional 22 children for a total of 531 children each week.
Jane Russo, PT from the North Central District spoke at our state convention, and what an amazing job she did. So many of our members are still talking about the impact her talk had on them. We introduced JJ D’Angelo, our new FECTS CHAMP of the Year. He was so excited to be there with the Elks and was an instant hit with our members. Jackson Barth, last year’s CHAMP and current FECTS ambassador, was at the convention and, as always, had a great time greeting all his friends.
As the therapists and I travel around the state with our State President, Tom Ludwick, we continue to meet amazing Elks and hear the wonderful work that each lodge does in its community. Our therapists are really enjoying the opportunity to meet so many of our members, and our members seem to really enjoy the stories our therapists have to tell.
We just returned from the national convention in St. Louis. What a great convention. Tressy Guadagno, OT from the West Central District went with us to the convention. Together with Sven and Andrice Nelson, Barbara and Emery Shepard, Patty Shipley, and many wonderful Florida Elk volunteers, our cruise raffle raised in excess of $4,200 to be divided between Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services and the Florida Elks Youth Camp. Thank you, all, for your support. The winner of the cruise is from New Jersey and needless to say, she was very happy. Thank you, all, who participated in our cruise raffle.
While at the convention, I had the opportunity to visit the major projects booth from all the states, and I have to say that in Florida, we really do have the best major projects, and we are so proud of all the support we receive from our members. We could not continue to do the amazing work we do in our state without the support of the Elks and our ladies organizations.
I would like to share a story with you showing you what a difference an FECTS therapist and your kind donations can make. One of our therapists has been treating a 14-year-old boy who has Batten disease. This is very progressive and fatal. He is totally blind and has weakness and mobility issues throughout his body. His disease is progressing, and he is becoming weaker. He also lacks the protective instincts needed to help catch himself if he slips. He is at risk of falling and becoming injured in the shower. He is 5’7” and his mother (his sole caretaker) is 5’. Our therapist has requested, and we have approved, the purchase of a bath chair which will allow his mother to transfer him from his wheelchair to the chair outside the tub. The chair would then swivel into the shower so that she could bathe him comfortably and safely, then swivel back out to dry and dress him. This will make an incredible difference not only in his life but also in his mother’s life. When we purchase a large piece of equipment for a child, when they are through with it, the therapist brings it to Umatilla, Fla., to be passed on to another needy child. We should all be very proud of the difference we are making in this child’s life as well as in his mother’s life.
In April, we had an incredibly successful “Unmasking Autism” gala in St. Petersburg, Fla. Due to the generosity of many lodges, more than half our therapists were able to attend the gala and speak personally with many of our members. A very special thank you goes to Dan and Casey Masi and their amazing committee for doing such an awesome job.
If you would like to have a therapist at your lodge for an event, go online to floridaelks.org and click on the Therapy Services section and complete the therapist participation form, and we will do our best to have a therapist at your event.
Several lodges are having special events for Therapy Services. Please know how much we at Therapy Services appreciate what you are doing for our program and we will do everything we can to make your event special.
On behalf of our 28 therapists, Deborah and myself, thank you for being the best Elks in the nation and for your amazing support of Florida’s major projects and especially Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
Have a safe and happy rest of the summer!
Colleen Gallant, Director
Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services