Friday, September 17, 2010

August 2010
Eau Claire Area Retired Educators’ Association
A unit of WREA Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Association
“Your Voice, Your Choice”

Dear ECAREA Friends,
A welcome to a new year of our Eau Claire Area Retired Educators Association. We ended last year on a strong upbeat note, and I am confident that we will continue in the same vein for the beginning of this one. Your board has worked hard to obtain interesting and varied programs and speakers. We hope that you take advantage of continued learning and conversation with friends by attending as many as you can, starting with our August 30th meeting at the Chippewa Valley Museum.
As always we are looking for new faces on the board. We thank Cherry Larson for her many years of collecting labels, bottle caps and cartridges for the schools. Carol Friday will now take over this responsibility. There are other ways to get involved, so please don’t be shy about stepping forward. I am so glad I did as I have thoroughly enjoyed the friendships that I’ve made!
On the state level WREA provides us with support, expertise and vigilance as they monitor what is happening with our pension fund. As we heard at the WREA State Convention, we are now considered rich because of our well-managed pension fund. Our state organization has reached a milestone in membership numbers—14,000! Let’s do our part in recruiting new members locally. Our state president Berland Meyer encourages us to remind other retired educators that WREA is not all about US, but about making things better for EVERYONE. It works best when friends invite friends, so keep that in mind for this year’s programs, and invite someone to share a meeting with you.
Chris Kondrasuk, President of ECAREA

August 30—1:30 p.m. Museum Presentation Chippewa Valley Museum
October 4—10:00 a.m. Jean Jirovac First Baptist Church -Brunch
November 1—1:30 p.m. Brent Hafle CV Free Clinic Grace Lutheran Church Hall
December 6--Noon Luncheon Nick Seegers, violin Florian Gardens
No meeting in January
February 7—1:30 p.m. Mary Pica-Anderson Grace Lutheran Church Hall
March 7—1:30 p.m. Ken Anderson on Mayberry Grace Lutheran Church Hall
April 4—1:30 p.m. Betty Cowley on Mary Todd Lincoln Lake Street Methodist-Brunch
May 2—1:30 p.m. Richard Kozbial on Poland Grace Lutheran Church Hall
June 6 –Noon TBA with Chippewa Falls Unit

Meetings are cancelled when the Eau Claire area Schools are closed due to weather.
Brunches and luncheons will still be as scheduled. Reservations are necessary by the Thurs. before it.


By Joan Cook
From time to time, misconceptions about the Wisconsin Retirement System are aired. A recent Eau Claire Leader-Telegram Letter to the Editor, submitted by John Andersen of Lake Hallie, is worth reviewing:
“In Wisconsin, the only people who may retire at 55 with full benefits are police, firefighters and those in other protective service occupations. To receive “full benefits, they must have 30 years of service; that rule is called the rule of 85 (30 years plus your age equals 85). Others, including teachers, are eligible to retire at 55 but with reduced benefits. Normal retirement age in nonprotective occupations, such as teaching, is 65-the same as anyone else. By the way, such benefits do not include health insurance.”
The writer continues, “Also inappropriate is believing the Wisconsin Retirement System is the taxpayers’ money. It is money deducted from wages of employees in the system. A similar analogy is that once I pay for a gallon of milk, I don’t own the “profit” of the grocery store. If there was any question of that, just ask former Governor Tommy Thompson, who was ordered to pay back millions to the retirement system by the Wisconsin Supreme Court when he took it to balance the state budget in 1987.”
WREA is dedicated to protecting our pension fund. Watch for legislative alerts on the WREA website so you can contact your legislators

By Owen Moyer
Checking Account Balance as of July 31, 2010 $1,097.97
Saving Account Balance as of July 31, 2010 $1,656.22
The Budget for 2010-2011 was set at the July Board meeting and will be reviewed at the August Meeting.

By Marlaine White
Health: We start a new year of meetings for ECAREA. So, here’s to your health! Our health depends on so many factors. The genetic part we can’t change. We can do something about what we eat, how much we exercise, how much we sleep, and what we do to keep our brains alert.
I don’t mind exercise and walking or a slow jog. Some people can’t do that. President Kennedy used his rocking chair for exercise. Do whatever you can. Remember, it’s for your health!
There are gadgets to help you if you’re disabled—for dressing, reaching something on a shelf, etc. To get a free catalog, call Arthritis Foundation of Wisconsin at 1-800-242-9945.
Education: Locally, the issues of the former superintendent of schools and his lawsuit are done. The court did not agree with him. Budgetary woes will be increasing. If you have never volunteered in a school, now is the time to start. To give your brain a boost, use your knowledge on another grade level. Try it. The grade school class sizes are smaller than when I taught ( I had classes of 33 students).
Many students don’t have grandparents near by. If you have “one-on-one” contact with a student, you are exposing the student to another generation.

What is it? The WREA Foundation was established in 1996 by the Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Association to provide outreach programs to the community, to support continuing education and life-long learning, and to enhance and foster volunteerism. Projects of the WREA Foundation will include:
-- Scholarships for students and teachers --Professional development
--Leadership training for volunteers --Projects to improve communities
--Retirement planning --Information dissemination
Locally we use the WREA Foundation whenever a member dies as we make a donation in that person’s name to the Foundation. It seems very appropriate for a retired educator to have a memorial in a fund that supports education and life-long learning.
WREA Foundation provides a variety of grants. This year’s grant program, called the 2010 Challenge award, is for five $2000 awards to public middle schools, grades 6-8 for existing programs implemented in 2008-2009 or 2009-2010 school years. The application window is April 16-Sept. 30, 2010. Information is available at the WREA website . We will hear about the winners at our Fall District workshop. It would be great if a local middle school was a winner.

SOCIAL COMMITTEE REPORTS By Loreen Yager and Carol Friday
We have two brunches (Oct. 4th & April 4th), a holiday luncheon (Dec. 6th), and a picnic/luncheon (June 6th) for the ECAREA 20010-2011 year to be held at various locations. The Chippewa Area group is invited to the picnic/luncheon in June. All other meetings will be held at Grace Lutheran Church. Check the meeting schedule form for dates, times, places and programs.
**Reservations for the October 4th brunch at First Baptist 416 Niagara should be called or emailed by Thursday, September 30th. Cost is $9.00.

** Reservations for the December 6th holiday luncheon at Florian Gardens, 2340 Lorch Ave. should be called or emailed by: Wednesday, Dec. 1st . Cost is $20.00.

Contact LoreenYager at 715-836-7801 or email to make a reservation.

Remember! If you reserve for a luncheon or brunch, you pay for it whether you attend or not unless you have cancelled your reservation by the dates requested.
Luncheons and brunches will still be scheduled even if the Eau Claire Schools are closed because of inclement weather. Regular 1:30 p.m. meetings will be cancelled if the schools close because of weather.

COLLECTION 2009 By Cherry Larson
WOW!!! Thank you for your contributions. Collections 2009-2010, of Bottle Caps, Milk Moola Strips, Campbell Soup Labels and General Mills Box Tops was remarkable. All collections went to Longfellow School. The total collected:
Collected in 2009 2008
Bottle Caps 1,462 1,680 218 less
Milk Moola Strips 146 141 5 more
Campbell Labels 263 183 80 more
General Mills Products 260 208 52 more

Sooooo, we fell short in Bottle Cap collections but we still had a good year. Please keep colleting. I will keep you posted. ALSO KEEP COLLECTING YOUR SPENT COMPUTER INK CARTRIDGES. I will be turning those in summer 2010 as they do not send out checks to organizations for just a few at a time. This will be for 2009-2010 but will start accumulating them for 2010-2011.

When we retire, we receive many offers to join their retirement organizations. It is difficult to decide which one is a good fit for you. Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Association WREA is just for retirees and works for their benefits of them. Several of the board members expressed why they joined WREA and the local unit, ECAREA (Eau Claire Area Retired Educators’ Association). Here are their replies:

Jim Davis: When I retired to the Eau Claire area, I had been retired one year and was already a member of WREA and the Trempealeau County Retired Educators group. I soon sought out the ECAREA because I wanted to be with retired educators, even though I probably didn’t know any of them. I like the company of educators and being new, it was one place I knew I’d quickly find friends. And, very importantly, I wanted to continue my support of the state organization, whose primary goal is to protect our pension (which I like very much), and also looking out for legislation which affects Wisconsin schools. I could let others carry this burden, but since I depend greatly on my pension, I felt it was important to do my share in supporting the work of WREA, which shows great leadership. I have served as treasurer and newsletter editor for ECAREA for many years and it was interesting and fun to be with the Board and helping with decisions. It was always a happy time when we met. Our programs at the regular meetings are interesting. I’d like to see more retired educators attending and even getting involved.

Cathy Hoffman: I taught in Fall Creek for 7 years and ended with 23 yrs. in Eau Claire at Roosevelt Elem. and finally at DeLong Middle School. I joined because I have always been active in ECAE and strongly believe that teachers need to have a strong voice in education and in their futures. WREA and ECAREA are responsible, efficient organizations that we can depend on to safeguard our pensions and to keep us in touch with education in the state. I am having a very busy retirement, but I would never consider not belonging to this group.

Bill Benson: ECAREA became known to me upon retirement from UWEC in 1998. Being good friends with Roger Barstad, he invited me to a few meetings, introduced me to other members, and shared his passion for keeping the organization at local, regional and state levels as strong as it could be. He instilled the importance of the leaders in Madison working for those of us on a local basis—safeguarding benefits earned over many years of teaching. What also appealed to me were the diversity and quality of programs planned and offered at each meeting.
Years ago, I decided to become a life member of the State organization. It was a wise decision. After attending a state meeting with Roger, it became clear that it was a very strong organization—one that reached out to other groups in the community. Most of the members chose to participate in many other organizations in the community where their enduring knowledge and talents could be shared. It also became evident there was “clout” when needed in the past, with very capable leaders who voiced their concerns and were heard

Loreen Yager: Two organizations, our local EAREA and the state WREA, whose objective is to keep an eye on our pension (seeing that it stays strong) seemed like two groups worthy of joining after teaching 28 years at the Lincoln Elementary School here in Eau Claire. It has been that and more. I’ve met many other local retired educators and others from throughout the state that I would normally not have met. I’ve also learned a lot from various programs we include as part of our meetings. I’ve attended several regional and state meetings where I’ve learned amongst other things more about our pension (SWIB and ETF). ECAREA and WREA are great organizations. Come and join us.

Owen Moyer: My working years were spent as an administrator in a southern Wisconsin school district (Delavan-Darien). So I didn’t know many local educators when Jan and I retired to Eau Claire. But I joined ECAREA anyway because I met past president Jeanette Scheuermann on a bus tour and she constantly talked about all the good things the group did and nagged me until I signed up, a decision I haven’t regretted since! Every month when my pension check is direct deposited or I attend another of our great meetings and visit with many new friends, I mentally thank Jeanette for getting me into an organization that fights for our school kids as well as our pensions!

Sally Gordon:I am proud to say that I taught 32 years in the Eau Claire School District. My career was shared equally between Roosevelt elementary and DeLong Middle School. I retired in 2007 and have been busy enjoying all sorts of hobbies and travel experiences. One thing that I am enjoying very much is my involvement with the ECAREA Board. My friend Cathy Hoffman, who was President at the time, invited me to come to some of the meetings with her. Well, that’s all it took. I learned so much about the community, other people’s interests and it kept me in touch with fellow educators. I would encourage all of you to join us and stay connected with old and new friends of education.

Carol Friday: I am a former first grade teacher, and have been retired from Lincoln School for seven years. I joined WREA to keep abreast about my pension funds and ECAREA as a social outlet. Since then, I have met many wonderful retired teachers from the Eau Claire area, but also from around the state. I not only enjoy new friends but also have listened to excellent programs, which has certainly made me aware of all that is happening in Eau Claire and the surrounding area.

Joan Cook: I taught in the English in the Janesville School District. When I retired, I joined the WREA and was Vice President of the state organization. When I moved to Eau Claire in 1995, naturally I joined ECAREA, hoping to assist the local unit. I was awarded with meeting many new friends.

Jeanette Scheuermann: I taught 3 yrs. in Madison and 31 yrs. in Mondovi Public Schools. I joined WREA and ECAREA because of the encouragement of previous retirees from Mondovi. They were involved in these organizations when Governor Tommy Thompson took money from our pension fund (1980’s) to help balance the state budget. It was the WREA and local members who pooled their own money to help WREA pay for attorneys to get the money back, including interest and loss of payments, to the fund. Jane Elmer, WREA’s director for us, does an excellent job in Madison, keeping an “eye” on the fund. I also have met so many wonderful retired educators and attended meetings with interesting and educational programs. Join both groups to help protect our pension and come to a meeting or two if the programs interests you.