27th Annual ITPA Assembly (2017)
Where in the world is Prowler? The last time I saw him was when I introduced him to the audience in Jacksonville Florida. He has disappeared so if anyone sees him prowling for pioneering, please put him on a bus or train and send him home.
Forty- nine pioneers attended the 27th Annual Assembly held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Jacksonville Florida representing a number of clubs and states as far away as Maine. The accommodations were great, the food was excellent and the staff at the hotel gave us great service. We received a welcome letter from the Mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry and the weather was perfect for a great weekend of fellowship with family and friends.
The weekend began on Friday with " The Ultimate Sport Night " which consist of a buffet with grilled hamburgers and hot dogs with nachos and pretzels. This was followed by our Meet and Great which welcome everyone to the assembly. Everyone seems to have a good time and as usual we took the fun back to the hospitality room where we continue to fellowship, laugh and have a good time.
On Saturday we all met in the hotel dinning room for breakfast and then proceeded to the ball room for Opening Ceremony. The color Guard was a Army ROTC unit from a local high school in Jacksonville and with pride, we all pledge the allegiance to our flag of this great nation, The United States of America. This as always was a very moving moment as we saluted and remembered all of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country for our freedom. Our guess speaker was Karen Wolfson, board member representing Wolfson Children's Hospital. As you know Wolfson Children Hospital is my charity of choice and she explain what the hospital did and the impact it had on children around the world particularly those here in Jacksonville. Thanks to our ITPA family, so far we have raised nearly $4000.00 which will be 100% matched totaling $8000.00. My goal is to raise $10,000 with match, totaling $20,000 for the hospital. While we are off to a great start, this will be a marathon not a sprint so I will need your continual help during 2017.
It was also on Saturday when I introduced Prowler my mascot and he quickly disappeared. So if you see him, remember he is quick like the cat he is and should be stirring up a lot of support for pioneering. We also had some team building exercises, 50/50 drawings and a working lunch which included roast beef, chicken and ham, a salad and assorted cheeses. The afternoon was free time for everyone but a tour was made available at Anheuser Busch and reservations were made at the Alahambra dinner theater. The feedback that I received was everyone who went had a really good time.
Sunday morning begin with our worship service, Harold Hayes, President of Charitable Foundation delivered an inspiring message to us entitle " God will make a way". Harold and Janet Cashwell treated the congregation to the most beautiful duet that was so beautiful and inspiring. I along with so many really appreciate Harold spiritual leadership and if you haven't heard Janet Cashwell sing, then you have missed one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard.
We then had our Hall of Fame Luncheon. This year we inducted Joe Thomas Ford, one of the founders of Allied Telephone Company. Mr. Ford provided leadership which in 1983 merge Allied Telephone company with Mid- Continent Telephone Company forming Alltel.. Morrie Sachsenmaier, President ITPA Museum and Hall of Fame Foundation presided over the ceremony.
We took time out to present awards to the clubs who submitted their write ups telling the stories of the work they had done in their communities. Congratulations to all of the entries for this is really what pioneering is all about. Helping others and serving in the communities in which we live. It's a great feeling in side when you give back and help those who are less fortunate which was clearly demonstrated through these awards.
Later in the evening we had a delicious dinner, the induction of new officers for 2017 and the band, Cloud 9 provided us with good music to dance and enjoy the evening. During the evening we also had a special presentation which we honored and payed tribute to Mr. Lee Jacobs by presenting the Director Emeritus award to his lovely wife Elfi. This was a very touching moment for me personally because Lee Jacobs not only was a great pioneer but he was my mentor and a great person. He will be truely missed by all of us.
This Assembly would not have been a success had it not been for the assembly sponsors; GEICO, Windstream, Chesnee Telephone Company,The Coastal Group- BB&T, Scott and String Fellow. Special thanks to Florida Big Bend Club, Bill & Nancy Schnitzer, Otto Wettstein Jr. Pioneer Club, Carl Hill Galloway Club.
I also want to thank Down East Pioneer Club, Florida State Chapter ITPA, Glenn & Trudie Bryant Foundation, Tar Heel Chapter and Mountain Ltd, and Jo Myers- In memory of her husband Phil.
I also want to thank the assembly committee for all of their hard work and coordination; Joan Exposito, Jo Myers, Al Johnson, Becky Hollis, Harold and Sandy Hayes, Bill & Nancy Schnitzer, Ronnie & Janet Cashwell, Jim & Vicki Jolly, Nat & Janet Goss; Chris & Alissa Moss , Cindy Downing and Carolyn Thompson.
This coming year will present its challenges but I've seen what we can do by staying and working together. I'm excited about this year and I'm excited about pioneering. I hope and pray that you are to.