Serving the Pelican area has been a privilege, and a great career opportunity

By Barbara (Garrity) Axness
Departing chief executive
Pelican Valley Senior Living

Barbara Axness

As many of you know, I am leaving my position at Pelican Valley Senior Living and starting a new career in Fargo on October 1.

Before I leave, I wanted to give thanks to the many people and organizations that have impacted me or made a difference in our community. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Executive Director at Pelican Valley Senior Living for six years. I am sad to be leaving but I am so grateful for all the memories and friendships I’ve made in my time here.

First and foremost, thank you to everyone at Pelican Valley – our staff, the residents, the tenants and our board. Even when things got tough, I really never had a bad day at work because I worked alongside such great people who are doing great things. There truly is something special about this facility. The longevity of the staff, the compassion they have and the sincere desire they have to provide outstanding care is like nothing I’ve seen before.

Together we have expanded our services and grown our footprint and I could not be more proud of the people and the work they do here. I am thrilled over the partnership with our new management company, Knute Nelson. They have the same values and priorities that we have and this relationship will be very positive, productive and enhance the amazing things we’re already doing. The future for Pelican Valley looks brighter than ever.

Children’s Corner child care a great asset

Thank you to the staff at Children’s Corner of Pelican Rapids. My daughter Emma was so incredibly fortunate to have spent the first few years of her life with the staff and children there. I was actually sad we got through the waiting list in Moorhead as quickly as we did because Emma still had a few more months to be there before she aged out. I can’t put in to words what great work the teachers there do. I wish I could take credit for how smart
Emma is but a lot of that credit goes to her teachers. I wish every child had the opportunity to have people like this in their lives and had the opportunity to have access to such quality education at such a young age. I never, ever, worried about Emma for even a minute while she was in daycare because I knew she was in such good hands. I was always amazed at all the things they did with the kids; the art, activities, songs. A special thank you is deserved for Emma’s favorite person, the center’s lead teacher, Tracy. We will miss everyone.

United Way serves area — often behind the scenes

Thank you to the United Way of Otter Tail and Wadena Counties for allowing me to serve on their board of directors the past three years.

Although you might not always notice it, this organization is doing such meaningful work in our community and the region. (In case you didn’t notice, their annual campaign is going on right now so it’s the perfect time to make a contribution to the United Way to help them continue their great work!) Mary Phillipe does incredible work with the United Way and it’s likely you’ve felt the impact of some of the programs and initiatives she has helped champion.

I think a special thank you is needed for the United Way’s Early Childhood Initiative Coordinator, Marsha Erickson. She took the lead on organizing a child care task force in Pelican and is working hard behind the scenes to bring solutions to ensure our families have more access to child care.

I know with her leadership and our community partners, they will make strides towards finding child care solutions. Even if you do not have kids, it’s likely you will feel the impact of someone- a coworker, a friend, a neighbor, who is struggling with access to child care. I never realized the significance of this issue until it impacted me. It has been truly eye opening to see and hear about people’s struggles. If you drill down and look at the root cause of many of the issues facing the community, our schools and our local businesses, I think you will see it all somehow comes back to access to child care.

I can’t help but think back to CJ Holl’s editorial as he left Pelican Raids earlier this summer. I agree that Pelican has immense potential but doesn’t seem to move past the potential part. In moving forward on creating more opportunities for child care, whether it be more home providers, more center options, co op settings, or a combination of these, we will see that be the kick-off to pushing Pelican forward. It will take a community wide effort but I know it can be done.

OAKS has served seniors with kindness

Thank you to the OAKS organization. This group does countless things for the seniors within our buildings but also out in the community. I had the honor of serving on their board of directors for almost the duration of my time here. Maggie and Lori are two of the most generous and kind people you’ll ever meet and I don’t know if people really see all the love and hard work they put in to making OAKS such a successful organization.

Rotary club has helped energize community

Thank you to Rotary for giving me the opportunity to be in this club for the past five years and for the brief opportunity to serve as your president.

Rotary does so much for this community and I would love to see more people get involved in this group and help energize our community.

Thank you to all of the people in the community I have worked with over the years.

There are simply too many people to name.

For a small town, there is so much going on  here, so much diversity, so much opportunity.

There is also so much good food, I will miss being able to run down to places like Escobars, the Screaming Eagle, and the Muddy Moose for lunch. I am looking forward to coming back to Pelican Rapids to visit friends and enjoy popular events like Pelican Fest.

I can’t put in to words how grateful I am to have been able to spend six years here. I look forward to reading about Pelicans continued growth and success in the Pelican Press.

Thank you again to everyone for everything!