Pictured here from left to right are Outreach Director Suzy Lemoine, incoming Library Director Margie Mealer, outgoing Library Director Mary Foster-Galasso, Rotarian Susan Saunders, and Rotary President Wayne Vidrine in his last meeting as president. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)

Rockin’ the horizons of Rotary

Ville Platte Rotary learns about psychiatric units and library systems

The Ville Platte Rotary Club ended its meetings in May by hearing from Janet Armand, who is the director of nursing at Savoy Medical Center’s psych and detox unit called New Horizons.
“It’s the best kept secret in the world,” Armand said. “It’s a place where we help a lot of people as best we can with the amount of time allotted to us.”
She stated that the 34-bed unit was one of the first facilities of its kind to accept Medicaid and that it has two psychiatrists on staff from Alexandria. She also stated that, as of June 7, an adolescent nurse practitioner will be joining the staff at the behavioral clinic in Eunice.
“Adolescent services are a big problem here,” said Armand. “We used to have an adolescent unit, and, through the years, we weren’t able to take many more because of the independent people that were needed to oversee the unit. There are a lot of regulations for adolescents. Big towns can handle it, but, in rural communities, people won’t go out of there way to stop and see somebody for free.”
A week later, the Rotary Club heard from directors of the Evangeline Parish Library.
Former Rotarian Mary Foster-Galasso is retiring from the position of library director. “What a great pleasure it’s been through the years to be part of Ville Platte and to be part of Rotary,” she said.
Foster-Galasso shared her plans after retiring from the library. They include turning her mother’s home into a “she-shed.”
“I hope to paint pictures,” she stated. “I’m painting dogs and cats. I’ve been following Good Dog Fine Art on Facebook and learning how to paint at night. I don’t know if I’ll succeed. I’ll probably make no money, but I just think I’d like to do this.”
She continued, “I’ve always loved to paint. I’ve learned the hard way that when you paint people’s portraits that there’s always something wrong with them. I feel people will be a little less picky about the dog pictures.”
Foster-Galasso then introduced her successor Margie Mealer. Mealer is a native of New Jersey and comes to Evangline Parish from Ruston where she was the head of children’s services for the Lincoln Parish Library.
“Growing up there were a lot of things in my life that were a little difficult, and libraries were my safe place,” said Mealer. “Libraries were my place to go when I needed some place special. The people that worked there were wonderful, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
“My whole life would have been very difficult and not nearly as rich as it is now,” she continued. “So, I hope to pass that on to the kids in the community. I hope to help the parents, the businesses, and all the community members anyway that I can.”
Mealer then shared her vision for libraries. “A lot of people focus on the future of libraries and the technology,” she told the Rotarians. “One of the things I like to do is have history programs to help bring the generations all together. I did one program in Boyce called One Town Many Stories, and I invited people to come and share their stories of what the town was like when they were younger.”
She concluded, “I think libraries can focus on the future. We can move ahead, but we also want to preserve the past.”
Outreach Director Suzy Lemoine then entertained the Rotary meeting by promoting the Summer Reading program with this year’s theme “Libraries Rock.”
She handed out musical instruments to different Rotarians. The instruments are prizes that can be won by reading books through the summer program. All of the events through Summer Reading program also revolve around music.
In his last meeting as president before next week’s Installation Banquet, Wayne Vidrine shared some trivia about the library as part of his Rotary Minute. He said that the library in Ville Platte began in 1948 and was originally located on Main Street at the Powder Puff Beauty Parlor. “You could get your hair done, get your fingernails painted, and could read a book all at the same time,” he quipped.

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