FECTS Director Message
- Written by Colleen Gallant
Well, Happy New Year to everyone. 2018 was an amazing year for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
My idea for this article is to give you a rundown on the past year at FECTS, but before I do, I would like to recognize Deborah Hall, our administrative assistant. She started with FSEA Sept. 11, 1987. I can assure you that after the past year and a half, FSEA hit the jackpot with Deborah. She is one of the most dedicated professionals I have had the pleasure to work with over the last 40-plus years. She gives 110% all the time. She is the most organized assistant ever and I am grateful every day that she was with FECTS when I started May 15, 2017. Deborah Hall, thank you for your many years of service and especially for all you do for us at FECTS. As we all know, State President Frank Malatesta’s motto this year is “Make the Best Better,” and Deborah, I can assure you that you make us all at FECTS better and we really appreciate you. So, to all you Elks, next time you see Deborah, please tell her how much we all appreciate her and the job she does for us.
Now, here is the year in review! We started off the year with our annual conference here at the Florida Elks Youth Camp. Brian and Mary Kay Burns along with their crew prepared an amazing barbecue the first night. We had great speakers and the conference was a huge success. It was at this conference that we chose Jackson Barth as our first CHAMP. Wow, what a year it has been for Jackson. We have been to so many of our Elk functions this year and Jackson has enjoyed meeting so many of our Elks. Jackson’s parents are so grateful for the Elks and all they have done to bring their shy little guy out of his shell. They tell me that he has come a long way and really enjoys being around the Elks.
In March, we were off to the officer training seminar and what an experience that was for me. I didn’t realize when I took this job that it meant being a presenter at officer training. Somehow I survived and will be at officer training again in 2019. We all know how shy I am when it comes to public speaking.
We finished the last couple state president visits with Carl Gerace and his lovely wife, Cathy. It was an awesome year of travel with them and with VPAL Frank and Sally Malatesta. The therapists did an incredible job of speaking at each one of these events and they made me even more proud of them and the job they do for the children of Florida.
In May, we attended the state convention and Frank Malatesta was installed as our state president. Paula Tarver was our speaker at the major projects luncheon and she made an excellent presentation. In June, we were on the road again. One of the perks of this job is that while traveling with the state president to all the district visits, you get to meet so many amazing and wonderful Elks, and don’t forget the ladies organizations. I love meeting every one of you and I am so grateful for all you do for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
In July, we were off to San Antonio and the national convention. While we were there, we sold chances on a couple items and raised in excess of $5,000 for the Harry-Anna Trust Fund. It brought a whole new meaning to the motto “Elks Care – Elks Share.” Since this was the 150th anniversary for the Elks, it made this convention even more special.
The state president’s visits continued after convention and I have to tell you, I have covered some miles over the last year and half and I enjoyed every minute of it. I especially love hearing everyone’s stories about therapy services and how it has impacted their life or someone close to them. Each time a therapist speaks, you can see on our members’ faces how much they appreciate what the therapists do in the name of Florida Elks.
In November, we attended the midyear convention at the Plantation on Crystal River. We were pleased to have Jackson and his family join us for the Saturday evening picnic along with his therapist, Nikki McAnary. Tressy Guadagno gave an excellent presentation and we even had time for a question-and-answer session.
We had two therapists start working with us near the end of the year. Tina Morris is in the South Southeast and South districts. Janet Bryant is in the Northeast District. Our newest therapist, Pearl Johnson, will start Jan. 2, bringing the total therapists to 28. She will be in the North Central, Central and Southwest Central districts. We continue to work hard here at FECTS to treat as many children as we can. Since we have three new therapists, it will take a little time to get their caseload up to our standards, but once everyone is on board, I’m sure you will be pleased with the number of children we will be able to treat.
This past year was a little difficult because we lost a few experienced therapists and had to hire new therapists. It will always take a new therapist a little time to become familiar with all the resources in the area. Since January 2018, we have hired six new therapists, two of which were new positions and four of which were replacements. So, give us a little time to get everyone up to speed and know that we are working hard so that our Elks can continue to be proud of this amazing program.
I would like to once again thank each of you for your support. We know that without you, the Elks and ladies organizations, we do not exist.
On behalf of Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services, thank you for allowing me to serve as the Director and for the confidence you have shown in our team of therapists. We are all looking forward to an even better 2019!
Best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy 2019.
Colleen Gallant, Director
Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services