Going to AOA every June, I am reminded of how grateful I am to those who volunteer their time, money and energy advocating for our patients and our profession. Serving on the board for the Florida Optometric Association for eight years and then as president for one year, I am even more appreciative of all that one gives up to help their colleagues in this way. Recently, a fellow O.D. told me that my first article as president of the FOA still resonates. He said he used the article to inspire others to get involved. An excerpt of this article, from the FOA’s Insights magazine, follows.* I hope this message inspires you as well.
When I think back to the beginning of my involvement in the Florida Optometric Association, what comes to mind is friendship and teamwork. I told the story during my inauguration speech of my first day of work in Tallahassee. It was my first job out of residency, and I was surprised when I was told I had a phone call. The person on the other end of the phone was Dr. Phil Dagostino, and he was calling to welcome me to town and to let me know that the NWFOA was having a meeting the next week and he would be happy to stop by and give me a ride to the meeting, as he knew I was new to town.
I had no idea what the FOA was. However, Dr. Dagostino made certain I felt like part of the team in Tallahassee. When I arrived at the meeting, I was greeted warmly by the other members and given a form to fill out and became a member right away. I learned from my colleagues how important it is to be a team and work together for our patients and our profession.
Just a couple of years later, my friends in Tallahassee elected me to be president of the NWFOA and my husband David and I were soon walking the halls of the capital with our baby in a stroller helping to educate legislators on the issues important to our patients and our profession.
I will always be grateful to Dr. Dagostino for being there for me any time I called for help at the capital, despite the fact that he was under treatment for cancer and was under doctor’s orders to avoid contact with the public. It wasn’t until I heard of Dr. Dagostino’s passing that I even knew of his medical condition. He truly put his patients and his profession first, an example I have never forgotten.
I have heard some say that they are too busy to be involved or have other obligations or not enough money. There is always going to be an excuse not to be involved. Yet I will tell you now that if we don’t all stand strong together, our profession could look much different in as little as five years. The time to get involved is now!
WE ARE HERE TO CHANGE LIVES
The message above is as true today as it was in 2016. We are here to change our patients’ lives because of those who went before us to clear the path. Support your profession now with your money, your time or both. As my grandma always said: Be a part of the solution or a part of the problem; choose wisely.
Thank you again my elected colleagues around the country for all you do. Keep up the good work. My patients deserve it. OM
*The excerpt in italics was reprinted with the permission of the Florida Optometric Association.