While the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed life for many people, including what we do normally everyday and our routines, it has also served to highlight some of the perks of being retired. We don’t need to worry about being laid off, but do worry about family members that might have lost their jobs or forced to teach from home and do their job at the same time. Some retirees have gone back to work because they just didn’t really want to be retired or wanted to keep busy.
Many retirees did need to learn how to use Zoom since this is the way we meet now. It’s our new normal and we’re learning at the same time, all together. Actually, the retired were Delegates at the NEA RA and the AFT Convention. We logged on to Caucus Meetings, the Convention, the Human and Civil Rights Program……all from the comforts of home. Of course, there were glitches, but we made it through. We listened to campaign speeches online and voted by mail after the conventions were over. We’re learning and it’s actually fun to learn how to do something new. Before the pandemic, I had never heard of Zoom or Google Classroom.
Retirees are limiting our exposure to others to reduce the risk of COVID-19. We’re taking care of ourselves and helping others as safely as we can. We’re donating food to food pantries, making welfare check calls, make face masks for nursing home patients and having people stop by to pick up fresh vegetables from our gardens. One member just places them on her doorstep and if she’s gotten a call for some vegetables, they’re picked up and practice social distancing and wave to each other. We’re not forgetting those close to us in our families and neighborhoods. We’ve been forced to learn how to use Zoom, which is not a bad thing. We can have virtual family meetings and birthday celebrations. We’re ordering groceries online with Insta-Cart to be delivered or we can pick them up. We even have special shopping times during safer, less crowded times in the mornings. To stay safe and away from crowded areas we have virtual doctor appointments and we can still enjoy the restaurant by ordering and having our meals delivered or we can safely do curbside wearing our masks.
We want to be together, be able to see our friends in person and give each other a hug like we used to. I can’t wait for those days again. We were able to enjoy an in person NEA RA and the Retired Annual Meeting in Houston in 2019. Past President, Marilyn Warner was re-elected to the NEA Board of Directors for the Retired and it was my first Retired Annual Meeting as President of FEA-Retired. It was awesome!! The Retired raised an awful lot of money from the silent auction. The meetings were packed full of very useful information and I met many new friends. The Annual Meeting and RA were held virtually this year. It’s just not safe enough to meet in person yet.
We had in person Governance Board meetings, Fund Our Future meetings, Rally to Tallahassee and G.R.E.A.T meetings till February. In March, everything came to a screeching halt. The COVID-19 is serious and I wish everyone would take it seriously. We contacted retired direct FEA-Retired members to do a welfare check. We’re constantly working on membership growth. Suncoast joined the FEA-Retired family and our New Locals Committee is working on more. There’s hope with new, interested people retiring. Our retirees are phone banking to Get Out the Vote and canvassing for public school supporters candidates. We don’t sit still too long, even on Zoom. FEA Leadership included the retirees on day 1 and made us part of FEA’s Strategic Plan. They included us in the Summer Academy this year with our very own training on Elections. Our Annual Meeting and DA are approaching in October and we’ll discuss business and there will be an election of the President and Vice President along with the even numbered District Directors. This is a new experience since we take nominations from the floor and now, we’ll be voting by mail after the meetings are concluded. This is the new normal.
We’re already planning for in-person meetings to focus on programs to gain new members, reactivate inactive locals and convince direct members to join the locals in the city they live. Our New Locals Committee is willing and able to assist with starting a new local if there’s not one in your city. There are a few of those. The first step is to recruit officers and work on your Bylaws. There is help to get started. Just ask: Rhea Mckinney and/or Marilyn Warner. The Retired Secretary and Past President have “everything” you need to reactivate or start your new locals. Our Bylaws cover everything from our specific objectives to FEA-Retired Membership to Representation at the NEA Annual Meeting and AFT Convention. FEA-Retired has Standing Rules to cover our Meeting Procedures to Elections to Amendments. Also, in place are the FEA-Retired Policy to cover Election, Term, and Duties of Office and Operations and Expenses.
We hope you’ll join us and get involved. We were delighted to celebrate “30 Years of Involvement and Service” this year from 1990-2020. We, like anyone else had some sad times in the loss of members, as well. From 2018-2020 I have been informed of the passing of FEA-Retired members from Palm Beach, Pasco, PEER, Polk, St. Lucie and UFF.
In the News…
Since March, we have all learned to keep safe by wearing face masks, gloves, social distance and to stay home, especially if you’re considered to be a “vulnerable.” We are older adults, age 65 and older and with an underlying condition. Our immune systems are weaker, so we must take care of ourselves.
As of today, August 26, 2020 Florida added 3,200 Coronavirus cases as the death toll passes 10,700. It’s truly sad that some think this virus is a hoax and refusing to wear a mask. The state’s total is now 608,722. What is so difficult about wearing a mask to save your life? This is just my personal opinion.
Other news covered was the death of George Floyd and how absolutely horrifying that was, the Black Lives Matter Movement and the passing of the Honorable John R. Lewis. All of this is very personal and painful for me so I won’t dwell on them. I just needed to mention them.
Our active affiliate, the Florida Education Association is involved in a lawsuit against the Governor of Florida and the Education Commissioner who had ordered schools to reopen to brick and mortar. I agree that it’s not safe to do that and don’t know why they are pushing it when it’s not safe. A local president just reported today that a few teachers had tested positive for COVID-19 and school just started last Monday. The ruling is in and FEA won the Temporary Injunction. FEA-Retired is very concerned. We have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews who are educators and students in the public schools. Now, there is an appeal.
*In closing, we must remember that, “Retirement only means it is time for a new adventure.” We must keep moving on, keep involved and do what’s best for FEA-Retired, our students and our schools.
Janice Poirier, President FEA-Retired