Administrator for Wellness Center excited about potential
Last updated 10/8/2021 at 5:52pm
Special to the Village News
Theresa Geracitano has a vision of seeing the Wellness Center being a vibrant community asset, bustling with meetings, classes, gatherings, and activities indoors and out.
It's not only her vision, but what directors of the Fallbrook Regional Health District have envisioned for the property at 1636 E. Mission Road in Fallbrook. The district bought the property in 2017, and the board has wrestled for years to determine the best ways to utilize the buildings.
Now, the plans are closer to reality. Geracitano was hired last month to be the Wellness Center administrator.
The board is still calling the shots on how the former church property will look and operate. Rachel Mason, CEO of the district, said the board will soon formally award the contract to architect Taylor Design to develop a plan to best use the three buildings – the former sanctuary, classrooms, and the parsonage. The property also includes a covered pavilion, picnic tables and walking path.
"It's a wonderful facility and has so much potential," Geracitano said. "It's going to take time for it to reach that potential, but I'm looking forward to doing all I can to get it started."
She explained there are several programs currently meeting on the property and several other "just do" activities they would like to get going. Other programs that require a commercial kitchen or larger meetings will come later, she added.
The groups currently meeting on the campus are Chair Yoga, Civil Air Patrol, American Association of University Women, North County Parkinson's Support Group, and Cal State San Marcos nurses. Geracitano said she has scheduled "walk through" meetings to show the facility to groups representing diabetes fitness and other organizations.
"It's a very exciting time," she said. "This can have a huge impact on the community."
Geracitano had her own marketing company for 10 years centered on large dental corporations. Her most recent job was with marketing for the Foundation for Senior Care in Fallbrook.
"I've lived here for 17 years and know a lot of organizations and I'm on the board of the Chamber of Commerce," she said.
"Theresa is extremely qualified," said Mason. "She's everything we were looking for, being local, having marketing experience, and is a go-getter."
Mason said she has been working with the county to obtain a Major Use Permit for the Wellness Center and that it seems likely to be on the consent calendar of the Board of Supervisors meeting on Oct. 29.
Use of the Wellness Center declined with COVID-19 restrictions. The district provided testing and vaccinations for COVID-19 for several months, but other uses were cancelled.
In July 2020, a consulting company, Catalyst, a Haskell Company in San Diego, was contracted for $218,000 to direct the planning by identifying the type of programs most desired by the community and board. Included in the plans – approved this summer – are things like financial literacy education, mindfulness-based stress reduction, diabetes prevention and self-management, community-based art programs, Health for Life, Fit & Strong, and mental health advocacy. These activities may not occur until facility improvements are approved and completed.
Another major development for the Fallbrook Regional Health District is the formation of the FRHD Foundation. The district board approved the bylaws of the foundation in March and Mason said that just now the district is being approved to officially be a 501c3 corporation, meaning it can accept charitable donations for the district, as well as grants.
"We won't be competing with other foundations like the Food Pantry," Mason said. "Instead, we may be able to more effectively partner with others. Having Theresa's non-profit experience will also be very helpful with the foundation."