Chatham-Kent Branch News
RETIRED WOMEN TEACHERS OF ONTARIO
Sixty-two years ago, a group of retired women teachers met in Toronto to begin the task of gaining pensions equal to that of their male counterparts. Over the years, this small group has evolved into what is known today as the Retired Women Teachers of Ontario (RWTO/OERO) with over 75 000 members and 52 branches across Ontario. Our new focus is “Caring and Sharing”.
The Chatham-Kent Branch gathers four times a year on the 4th Wednesday of September, November, April and June alternating between Country View Golf Course and Charing Cross United Church. We have 140-150 members, the oldest being 101 years. All retired women teachers are welcomed to join whether having experience in public, separate or private, elementary or secondary, college or university systems, no matter how long they have been out of the teaching profession.
To support our “Caring and Sharing” focus, each year donations are made to local food banks, the Chatham-Kent Children’s Service and the Women’s Shelter. A Special Olympian bowler is supported; books are placed in local libraries in memory of deceased members; shut-ins are visited and appropriate cards are sent.
Our meetings provide time for socialization, entertainment and a delicious meal. If you are a retired woman teacher please consider becoming a member. For further information, visit our website by Googling RWTO/OERO and clicking on Branch News or call Sharon at 519-352-6025.
Please contact our membership convener, JoAnne, for more details.
JoAnne Chrysler: 519-676-8640
In 1956, a small group of retired women teachers got together for the purpose of trying to persuade the government to raise the level of pensions for retired women teachers to the same level as their male colleagues.
In the following years, many new groups were formed and joined in the crusade to present a stronger case to the government.
In 1967, success was achieved when the government agreed that the minimum pension would be raised to $1200.00 per year.
We have come a long way since then!
This group continues to exist because there is still a need for an
organization that cares for the interests and well-being of retired women
- continually works to be a fully accessible organization to meet the unique needs of retired women teachers
- fosters and promotes interaction among retired women teachers to help members maintain and establish friendships with former colleagues
- provides interesting stimulation and supportive programs for all members
- provides a wide range of opportunities for members to use their leadership, communication and creative skills
- is socially conscious and works to establish a visible, outward-looking presence among teachers in particular and the public in general to improve the lives of all women and children.
At many of our Branch meetings, we have a book sale table. Here are
some interested browsers. Money collected from these sales goes to a
differing special outreach program each year.
Ruth Tedford, aged 90, is presented with a lap robe by Sue Cumming. Ruth’s niece, Louise Tedford, was present to support her aunt.
For our spring outing, members attended a session at The Glasshouse to learn how to make outdoor garden arrangements.
Noelle’s Gift began in January 2013 after the passing of Noelle Paquette. Noelle was a Sarnia kindergarten teacher with the St Clair Catholic School Board. Like so many teachers, Noelle paid out of her own pocket for items her students needed, like shoes and boots, coats, school supplies and healthy snacks. In order to honour Noelle and her caring of and generosity to students, Noelle’s Gift was created. Noelle’s Gift now provides for elementary and secondary students in the Lambton Kent District School Board, the St. Clair District School board and the French Language School Board.
To date, Noelle’s Gift has provided a variety of things for students. These include eye glasses, winter clothing, running shoes and boots, clothing and coats, and toiletries. They have even provided a high school student with work boots for a co-op placement. Grocery store gift cards have been provided to families in need after emergency situations, the loss of a job or even when a teacher has noticed inadequate lunches. Specialized equipment has been funded when all other resources were exhausted. These include wheelchairs, helmets and feeding pumps. Noelle’s Gift does not fund class trips or psycho-educational assessments.
When a need is identified by a teacher, ECE or EA, a request is made to the principal. If the request amounts to under $200, the principal can immediately approve it and the items can be purchased and provided to the student quickly. Requests over $200 must be approved by the administrator of the charity.
Noelle’s Gift recognizes the importance of healthy eating to the well-being of children. Donations for breakfast and snack programs are made to student nutrition programs. With the increasing cost of fresh, healthy food, and food insecurity for many families, this is an ever growing need.
Noelle’s Gift improves the lives of children in our community and ensures every child has the chance to grow up great. It levels the playing field for students and gives them the opportunity to feel positive about themselves.
Over the course of the year’s meetings, donations from the membership were accepted. The Branch donated $400 in addition to the members’ donations to the total of $1104.
At each meeting, there are dishes of assorted candy on the tables. For the donation of coins, members take the candy of their choice. The money raised in this fashion goes to support our local Special Olympics bowlers. When the donation is presented, there is always one of the bowlers who comes to accept the donation as seen in this photo. Sharon Butler, one of the Chatham Kent Board members, makes the presentation
This is Becky Spicer receiving Feather in your Hat Award from Lynn Sulman.
Rebecca Spicer has enjoyed volunteering her time using her musical background. Since her retirement, most of her time has been spent with Community Living Chatham-Kent, working with clients for their Christmas Concerts. Some clients were former students she taught in school.She helps coordinate the “box lunch” event each year and on occasion is a driver. She has spent 30 years volunteering and directing choirs at Gregory Dive Church, including special Easter and Christmas choirs. Her efforts are time consuming requiring lots of planning, practices, and performing!
Cleata Morris receiving feather in hat from President Sharon Nicholson.
Cleata Morris, at 96 years of age, is one of our oldest honourees. She is active in the North Buxton Community Church where she has immersed herself in the life of her community. She is a member of the Merlin Friendship Club. Cleata has always championed Black History, often organizing lunches for busloads of people visiting the Buxton Historical Site and Museum. She is probably most known throughout Chatham-Kent for the “Friends of Buxton Male Choir” that she and Lois Pratt started in 2001. She directs the choir which gives numerous concerts throughout the year.
Ruth Anne Rhea deserves compliments for her many community achievements. She has been active in her church for numerous years. In the past, Ruth Anne has donated much of her time as a volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society. Also, she served on the Chatham-Kent Retired Women’s Executive Board for several years. Ruth Anne was President of the Chatham-Kent Branch from 2000 to 2001. Most recently, she was the winner of Seasons Retirement Community’s “Remarkable Resident Contest”. Congratulations Ruth Anne!
One of Chatham Kent’s members, Marilyn Johnston, is involved with a group called Ryan’s Case for Smiles. This small group of busy ladies have made bright, colourful pillow cases, to the tune of 110 every two months for the past five years, for sick children in area hospitals. Each pillow case is made of 100 percent cotton. These pillows are a way of adding a sense of home to the hospital rooms of children. Originally the pillows were for cancer patients, but they are now available for any child with a serious illness in the hospital. We are proud to have ladies such as Marilyn as members of our branch.
The bench on display was part of the store front offered by the 2018 International Plowing Match. Margaret Mills, one of our members is trying out the bench.
This is from our In Memoriam service, featuring Barbara Rose, Nancy Hrytzak and Marg Mazurek.
Margaret Mills and Sue Cummings with 90 year-old Doris Shaw. They had just presented her with a lap robe from the Chatham Kent Branch.
2020 – 2021 Program
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Charing Cross United Church – 11:30 am
”Special Presentation to the New Retirees”
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Country View Golf Course – 9:30 am
Entertainment : featured Christmas music
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Charing Cross United Church – 11:30 am
Entertainment: speaker of interest
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Country View Golf Course – 9:30
Entertainment: Round Table Interest Forum
Chatham-Kent “Feather In Your Hat”
Beverlee Bodnar was a valued member of our Executive as Program and Entertainment Convenor for years. She has also been very involved in her community. Among her endeavours, she has been a proponent of Canterbury Elder College. She has provided space on her property for the Community Garden project. Volunteering for Women Who Care, United Way Chatham Kent Women’s Council, the OSPCA, VON Chatham Kent, Family Council for Copper Terrace, Meals on Wheels, the Ontario Lung Association and the Community Christmas Dinner makes one wonder how she managed to fit everything into her busy schedule. We’re glad to have her in our Branch.
Lila Babcock volunteers with a number of organizations. She has 23 years at the local hospital and 25 years as an usher with the Chatham Cultural Centre. She has been a canvasser for Heart and Stroke as well as Cancer. She has been involved in plays at her local church. In Dresden she has worked with Meals on Wheels. Like so many of our members, she is involved with the 2018 International Plowing Match in Paincourt.
The Chatham Kent Branch decided to begin awarding its own “Feather in Your Hat” Award to deserving members of our organization. This award goes to a member who is involved in ongoing community activities. Two such awards have been handed out over the past year; one to Marsha Thorpe and another to Barb Suitor.
Marsha Thorpe volunteers at the local library, for the Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke and the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle. She also ushers at the local theatre and assists friends when needed. These activities are in addition to the work she does with the Chatham Kent RWTO Branch where she has served on the executive and is often the smiling face that greets people at the door as they enter buildings for our meetings.
Barb Suitor is a volunteer in Dresden at the school breakfast programme, the food bank and with teaching craft projects (bear making) at the local public school. In addition she volunteers with the Cancer Society as well as Heart and Stroke. She is a big support to her family. This is in addition to her work with The Chatham Kent RWTO Branch where she has been through the chairs, served as Insurance Convenor and Assistant Membership Chair.
The Chatham Kent Branch is very proud and grateful to our members who volunteer in our community by “sharing and caring” their skills and experiences. By recognizing their contributions, we can celebrate the benefits of volunteering and hopefully encourage other members to become involved in a cause that interests them. It’s a win-win!
Sharon joined our local branch when she retired and has been a member of our executive for the past 15 years. In her spare time she enjoys quilting. Several years ago she quilted the RWTO/OERO logo for us. We now hang this item on the podium for our general meetings. For our meeting celebrating Canada’s 150, Sharon displayed the Canada quilt she made from a kit. We are so pleased to have Sharon share her talents with us.
Janet enjoys crafts. Several years ago she made small stuffed fabric reindeer as table centre pieces for to use at our Christmas general meeting. Another year she made new versions of the reindeer to give to our shut-ins at Christmas time. Now we have Christmas tree centre pieces. When Janet learned sewing machine embroidery, she embroidered lace snowflakes for our shut-ins. We are so pleased that Janet is willing to share her talents with all of us.