It is such a pleasure to be able to write this article from our beautiful Florida Elks Youth Camp, here in Umatilla, Florida. Last year at this time we were locked down and unable to come to the office.
While we are still facing COVID-19 issues, we are blessed that we are back in patient homes and back in our offices.
As you are all aware, we entertained our Grand Exalted Ruler and our first lady of Elkdom the first week of February. We accomplished a great deal at our meetings, and it was great hearing our Grand Exalted Ruler speak to our members.
Also in February, we introduced Cristin Rumler as the assistant to the Director. Cristin will work very closely with Deborah Hall; together, I am sure they will make us even more efficient. Cristin will also work with me on special projects.
We were very excited to have our CHAMP of the year, Emily Bulson, and her family with us for our major projects meeting. Emily and her family feel that they are indeed blessed to have so much support from the Elks of Florida. Since COVID-19 kept Emily from doing many of the events we would regularly do, the therapists have decided to keep Emily as our CHAMP of the year for one more year.
From March 8 to March 11, therapists were at the Florida Elks Youth Camp for our annual meeting. Since we are still dealing with COVID-19 issues, we had all our events at the youth camp. A very special thank you goes to Director Nick Miller and his staff. The camp is in beautiful shape and they all made us feel very welcome.
As in years past, we had a speaker for the therapists’ continuing education and we had our recertification for CPR training. We also spent time sharing new ideas on how to treat patients.
This year, rather than going out to a restaurant in the evenings for our meals, we ate at the camp. Chef Cliff Richard and his staff did an amazing job. Each meal was absolutely wonderful. Because we stayed in and had our meals here, it gave us a lot more time to spend together since we really had not seen much of each other in the past year.
State President Rudy Masi and his beautiful wife, Dolly, stayed at the camp Tuesday night and had dinner with us and sat out by the fire telling stories. It was a wonderful evening.
On Wednesday evening, we had our retirement celebration for longtime therapist Margot Baker. Chef Cliff prepared beef Wellington and Chilean sea bass. I can honestly say everyone had a great evening.
We left camp Thursday and Friday was the state officer training seminar. As always, I learned so much at the seminar. On Sunday, if you stayed for the major projects meeting, you saw a brief video of Emily Bulson (our CHAMP) taking her first steps since her health issues began in 2018. I assure you there was not a dry eye in that room. The Elks of Florida work so hard for us to be able to help so many children and when you can see just how it has impacted a child’s life, it is truly overwhelming.
I hope you all know how happy our therapists are to be back in our patients’ homes. Unfortunately, some families are not ready for in-home therapy at this time. We continue to have issues with COVID-19 and we have our therapists quarantine when they are exposed. As more and more of us receive our vaccine, we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
As of April 1, we have a new therapist in the Sarasota/Manatee area. Clara Budynsky, OTR/L joined our Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services family and is replacing Margot Baker who recently retired. Clara is excited to join us and is looking forward to meeting our members.
On April 15, Kailey Barber, OTR/L joined our team as our 30th therapist. Kailey will be in the Polk/Osceola area. Like Clara, she is excited to join our team and is looking forward to meeting our members.
Every day, I wake up grateful that I am able to work with some of the most talented occupational and physical therapists along with our administrative staff of Deborah Hall and Cristin Rumler. Our therapists truly love their jobs, the children they treat and the members of the Florida State Elks for making this all possible. It is because of your hard work and dedication that we are able to treat over 500 children each week. This past year has been incredibly hard on everyone, yet the Elks of Florida made sure that we were able to stay in contact and work via electronic devices with our patients and their families who so desperately needed someone to reassure them that everything would work out. I am extremely proud of the way each of them performed during this very trying time.
On behalf of all our therapists, Deborah and Cristin, thank you for your amazing support. We truly appreciate all you do for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services and our patients.