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By FSPA President Brian Kelly, Shamrock Pools / shamrockpls1091@aol.com 

As the end of summer nears, many of us look forward to the peace and quiet that is finally in sight. The kids are going back to school! Yes, the youngsters are once again going back to learn the ABC’s and the routine that school brings.

But for some of us, the beginning of the school year also brings the unwanted words many of us hear – tuition! That’s right, the burden of college tuition and costs associated with an upper level education. As many already know, these costs can be substantial and ongoing. While we all are extremely proud of our children achieving the privilege of attending schools of higher learning, or extending their education with vocational training, it can come with substantial costs and responsibility.

Fortunately, as FSPA members, and through the generous contributions of many, our employees’ children are eligible to receive financial help through the FSPA Scholarship Fund. This fund, while it requires some effort on the part of the applicants, is a great way to offset some of the costs associated with higher learning. The applicants, if it’s their first time applying, must submit documentation verifying their eligibility. Returning applicants also must qualify with grades sufficient enough to prove their eligibility. In both cases, the aspiring applicants have to submit research papers on a list of subjects pre-approved by the scholarship committee. The subjects are generally related directly to the the swimming pool industry and often entice the writers to produce really thought provoking and insightful papers.  Many of our  recipients have gone on to achieve their bachelors degrees and a number have even obtained their masters degrees. And many, like our very own Executive Director, Wendy Parker Barsell, have found a lifelong career in the Swimming Pool Industry.

To make our program even more attractive and helpful to our young recipients, I am pleased to announce that beginning this year, Bill Kent, HornerXpress, has graciously decided to offer matching scholarship contributions to our scholarship award winners!  Through the Bill Kent Family Foundation, all of our members’ children who have successfully completed the process of the application will now double what the FSPA scholarship committee awards them!  As a father of four children who have all attended upper level institutions, I know personally the help that these types of awards give hard-working students!

It must be said that the scholarship program, first started by Ken Brown, Insurance by Ken Brown, and so generously supported by Amerisure Insurance and by the many chapters across our great state, have supported pool industry children for more than 30 years. It once again reinforces the strength and compassion that this close-knit association provides for its many members!

To Mr. Brown, Mr. Kent, Amerisure Insurance, and all of the chapters that have generously contributed to our scholarship program, I offer my sincere thanks for your commitment to our members, their children, and this association!

Ava Jones
FSPA Member Information Specialist

Trade Association: noun

  1. An association of people or companies in a particular business or trade, organized to promote their common interests.

The Florida Swimming Pool Association is comprised of 700 member companies. I wonder how many of our members know the history behind associations and what it means to be a member of an association?

Associations have been around much longer than most people think. You can find examples of trade associations back to Elizabethan England (16th Century) with the formation of guilds. The guilds were formed by merchants and individual artisans coming together to protect their interests and provide services for the industry. The guilds offered regulations on work hours and wages as well as education in specific fields relating to the guild’s industry (sound familiar?). As the world expanded and grew to today’s modern world, guilds grew and expended to reflect the needs of the ever advancing members.

The United States of America has a proud history of association involvement. In fact, you can see how important having the availability to be a part of an association was to our founding fathers by looking at our constitution. Freedom to assemble and freedom of speech are key factors for an effective association which are protected in our constitutional rights. The earliest association in the US is the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York that was founded in 1768. A group of 20 merchants pooled together to form the Chamber of Commerce with the goal of serving the needs of the local community. They gradually grew to become the industry’s leading advocates and attracting participation from some of America’s most famous business families: Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Murray,and Astor. The US boasts tens of thousands of associations that represent various groups and industries that make up our vast nation.

You have been accepted into the Florida Swimming Pool Association because of your commitment to a code of ethics, your credentials, and your dedication to advancing Florida’s swimming pool industry. You have chosen to continue on the path laid down by our forefathers. FSPA is only as good as our membership. We look forward to many more years of fighting for the swimming pool industry with our loyal and hardworking members leading the way.