Saturday, May 13, 2017

May, 2017

    Another season of MCREA is nearly over. We have contributed a great deal to our community this year.  We have supported scholarships for FREA as well as our own MCREA Scholarships. We have donated about 500 books to FELT to be delivered to school kids along with their food backpacks.  We have sponsored a fifth grade essay contest and enjoyed awarding the winners and their classmates gift certificates.

  We have contributed to the Manatee County History Fair and to the Manatee Schools Foundation.  Our members have contributed hours of their time in the schools tutoring and doing other necessary work to help teachers and students, like volunteering at book fairs.

    We have donated food to the Manatee County Food Pantry, and toiletries and other gifts to nursing homes and the Salvation Army.  I am sure that I have forgotten something, but we have been very generous.

    And we had fun too.  Our meetings always had interesting programs and there was great joy in winning the door prizes, especially the big one.  Besides the action at the meetings, who does not enjoy the chance to visit with old friends?

     Our MCREA Scholarship winners will attend our May meeting.  There are four this year, one from Palmetto High, one from Bradenton River High, and two from Lakewood Ranch High.  Each will be awarded $500.  We are also awarding $1000 to Danielle Guida who is entering her third year as an education major.  In addition, she has been awarded $1000 from FREA.

     This meeting will be the last chance to buy FREA Extravaganza tickets.  Also, it will be your last opportunity to pay your dues easily.  After that, you will need to send a check to the treasurer.  Our new treasurer's address in the handbook is incorrect.  Please make a note of the change:  Judy Bodner
                                                        5111 134th Terrace East
                                                        Parrish, FL 34219
Her phone number is correct so you can phone her if you need to.

    Our program for May is "Show and Tell".  There is no special theme, so bring something that means something to you.  We will share at our tables, and then tables will choose whom they would like to share with the group.  I know, I am scratching my head too.  Maybe there was a trip that you made, an object from your past at work or from childhood, a photo that means something special to you. 

    We will also have a "Dollars for Scholars" auction.  If you would like, bring something that is new or slightly used to put in the auction to raise money for our scholarship fund. Instead of writing bids for each item, you will be able to buy tickets ($1 each, $5 for 6)  which you can place in a container in front of each prize.  Then there will be a drawing for each item. 


    At our April meeting, Rick Kerby, Artistic Director of the Manatee Performing Arts Center, spoke to us about building some of the sets for the plays presented this season.  He brought set designs and discussed how they were created.

    Fay Murphy, MCREA Parliamentarian, and Executive Secretary of FREA, inducted our new officers who will serve for two years.  Mac Aldrich received a certificate for Volunteer of the Year of MCREA. 

    A Memorial Ceremony remembered our members who passed away:  Joan Kratzmiller, Marie Lehrer, Rita Sampselle, and Joyce Ellis.

   I hope to see you on May 18.  If you have not heard from your caller, please call Susan Roe, 792-4786, or Mary Ann Jensen, 756-7603.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

MCREA March, 2017

    I have managed to pull myself away from news TV and radio in order to dash this blog off.  What might happen in the world before I get back to my obsessive viewing and listening?  Will it change because I am no longer looking?  This magic thinking is one that I am familiar with from my days watching sporting events and thinking that my presence or absence had something to do with winning or losing. I knew even then that was ridiculous, but still?

   Are you also caught up in this real world, 24 hour soap opera where the actions of politicians -- controversial, heroic, underhanded, quick-thinking, shrewd-- create a world of puffery alongside real-life mayhem? Who needs the usual television fare or even literary fiction when the news is so much more explosive and exciting?  And the outcomes could be earth changing.

   The March meeting had 90 people attending.   Cindy Tanner from the Blake Medical Trauma Center spoke to us about the center and how it functions. Although none of wishes to have to make use of the center, it is good to know more about it.

    Deborah Thomas, Chair of the 5th Grade Writing Contest, announced the 2007 winner:  Caitlyn Salerno from Gullet Elementary School.  Her essay is titled, "Stuck in a Thunderstorm with Grandma", and her teacher is Karin Byrne.  Caitlyn will receive a $25 gift card from Books a Million, and Ms. Byrne's class will receive a $25 gift card as well.  The essay will be forwarded to FREA to compete in the state contest.  Honorable mention went to Kaleb Rouse, also from Gullet.  He will receive a $10 gift card.

    Vilena Moore has moved to Water's Edge.  She attended our March meeting and is doing well.  Elaine Brown, a long-time member and MCREA Scholarship Chair for many years, celebrated her 85th birthday with family and friends on Saturday, April 8th.

    Nominating Committee Chair, Judy Shostrom, announced the nominated slate of officers for 2017-19 which was accepted unanimously by the members present.  The slate includes:  Phyllis Omilak, President;  Brenda Osborne, First Vice President/President Elect:  Elaine Waldron, Second Vice President;  Nancy Erwin, Secretary;  Judy Bodner, Treasurer; Susan Roe, Past President; and Fay Murphy, Parliamentarian.

    Installation of officers is on the agenda for the April meeting, along with a Remembrance Ceremony for our departed members.

  Rick Kerby, Artistic Director of the Manatee Performing Arts Center, will be the speaker at our April 20th meeting.  I hope to see you there.  As usual, if you do not hear from your caller during the week before the meeting, please call Mary Ann Jensen, 756-7603 or Sue Roe, 792-4786.
    See you soon,


Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6, 2017

    The old adage, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb" seems to true this year.  Of course, some rain with all that wind would be good for Florida's dry conditions.  My grass (loosely defined, but really just lots of interesting weeds that are green sometimes) are gasping.  When weeds gasp, you know there is a drought. 

    Our February meeting was well attended as usual.  Rick Yocum from the Humane Society entertained us with anecdotes about the animals at the shelter and about his devotion to them.  Many members brought gifts for the shelter and he was pleased to get them.  There is a need for more help if you have time to help out.  Dogs and cats have to be comfortable with people before they can be adopted.  Dogs have to be walked and exercised also. 


Rick Yokum

    MCREA dues for 2017-18 can be paid now.  Forms will be available at the March meeting.  $55 is the total FREA and MCREA responsibility.  Paying a little early will help both groups budget for next fall and will save postage for letters to remind you.

    Because of the harrowing political times, I am going to include some information to help you contact your representatives and local newspaper editorial pages.

          Letters to the editor:
Bradenton Herald
  mail:      Bradenton Herald, 1111 Third Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34210
                (when submitting, include your mailing address and your phone number)

mail:    Letters Editor, Herald-Tribune, P.O. Box 1719, Sarasota, FL 34230
              (when submitting, include your mailing address and your phone number)

Bradenton Times
on-line:  On Contact Us page
mail:      The Bradenton Times, 405 26th Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205

U.S. Senators

Bill Nelson      202-224-5274
Marco Rubio   202-224-3041

U.S. Representatives  District 16

Vern Buchanan   202-225-5015


Rick Scott            850-488-7146

FL Senator

Bill Galvano      850-487-5021   941-741-3401


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February, 2017 MCREA Blog

    We have to be proud of ourselves for our year's total of volunteer hours.  Joan Sackett announced that MCREA had donated 1800 hours to the community last year, 4000 of which were hours working with children.  Mac Aldrich is our Volunteer of the Year with 800 hours.  This total will be added to the FREA total to be presented to the governor in the form of a check representing the dollar amount of all that service. 

    Our speaker in January, Patricia Henderson who is the Outreach Manager and Community Liason, Senior Connection Center, Inc., gave us an eye-opening look into senior-abuse in Florida.  She educated us on the signs of elder abuse and asked us look out for seniors in our neighborhoods.

    You may have missed two of our long-time members and wondered about them.  Betty Chudy is now receiving Best Home Care.  You may send her a card or note to
4333 30th Lane East, Bradenton, Fl 34200.  Emily Miller's address is
1700 3rd Ave. W.,Westminster Towers #7911, Bradenton, FL 34205.

    Dues for 2017-18 can be paid now at the March or April meeting.  You can also send them to Ron Schneider, Treasurer.  $55 ($35 to state, $20 local)

    The MCREA Board donated $100 to support Manatee County Schools History Day events and voted to support the Manatee Education Foundation, which awards grants to teachers for classroom innovations, with $300 yearly.

    Tickets for the FREF Extravaganza drawing will be available at our meeting.  The money raised supports the FREF Scholarship awards.  Diana Buell has forwarded the application of our candidate for the year.  The awards will total $1000 for each of 4 years in college. We have had winners in other years, so we are crossing our fingers for this one.  Diana says she is a very worthy candidate.

    The MCREA Scholarship is available now to local seniors who plan to become educators.  If you have someone in mind, please contact Diana to pick up an application.  Sometimes the scholarships are not picked up at the high schools.  We will be awarding at least two $500 scholarships with a chance of picking up another when the student reaches his or her junior year and chooses a major in education or in a field with certification hours planned.

    Everyone is looking forward to Minnie Lee Jones's latest excursion to Mote Marine.  If you missed signing up for that one, she is planning a trip to visit the Lippizan training in Myakka, Thursday, April 13.  She will tell us more later.  You can still see Minnie if you are interested in the cruise to Cuba. May 28-June 4.

    Project Light is still looking for volunteers to help adults read and speak English.  Contact Chris MacCormack at 727-5183.  email:

    Rick Yocum of the Humane Society will be our speaker at the February meeting.  He has asked us to donate paper towels, puppy peepee pads, blankets, wet or dry cat and dog food, and towels when we come to the meeting.  I bought some of the pppads at Publix and then found myself explaining to the bagger and the cashier that they were not for my dog, but for the Humane Society.  I just couldn't let them think that Sailor had accidents!  Of course, they didn't know me or Sailor and didn't really care.

    I hope I have mentioned everything that I had on my list of information.  It is too late to make a reservation to come this month since I am late sending out the blog.  I hope you are one of the 85 (on Monday) who plans to be there.




Thursday, January 5, 2017

January, 2017

    Have you written your first incorrectly dated check yet?  It takes a good deal of determination and concentration to come to grips with 2017.  The world as we knew it is changing ever faster each year.  I think it isn't necessarily arthritis that causes my stiff neck; it's the constant twisting it from one side to another trying to keep up.  Oh well, so far I have been able to find my way home when I go out.  That's a small achievement, I know, but it's all I have.  Seriously, I want to wish you all a great year with only a modicum of problems that can be easily remedied.

  A sad note for long time members is the death at 90 of Alice Sutton.  She was a choral teacher at Southeast High School for over 30 years.  Alice was a native daughter of Palmetto, and a member of MCREA until she had to give up driving.  I remember her well when I worked at SEHS.  She was beloved by her chorus members, especially the girls.  Her visitation is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 6, at 6-8 p.m., Griffith-Cline Funeral Home, 720 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.  Her funeral will be there also at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7.

    77 members and guests attended the Dec. meeting. Most were in some kind of holiday attire and all were in holiday spirits: not a bah humbug to been heard.  The Bay Chorale sang with Fay Murphy, Mary Ann Jensen, and I joining in.  We loved it, and we hope the audience did too.

    The pictures are rather dark this month.  I think either Renaissance is saving on electricity or they were attempting to produce a romantic atmosphere.  Sorry, next time I will make sure the flash is on.
    The FREF Extravaganza tickets go on sale this month for $10 each.  Prizes for those participating are listed:
$100 to one winner in each district (so every district wins something)
$500 for first prize
$300 for second prize
$200 for third prize.
The proceeds from the Extravaganza support the FREF Scholarships.  Recipients receive $1000 for each year of their undergraduate degree program in education. Graduates of Manatee County Schools have won the award several times.  Meanwhile donations to the MCREA Scholarship Fund are welcome.  Our 50/50 drawing also supports the local scholarships.
    We have enjoyed the lovely table decorations at our luncheons this year.  Thank you to those who have volunteered to create them.  The following are the committees for each of the next months.
January        Pam Helman, Pat Watkins, Laura Moran, Peggy Gardiner
February      Carol Chapman, Nancy Erwin, Lee Ritchie, Diane Loyer, Freda Martin,
                     Patty Edwards
March          Suzanne Willever
April            Mac Aldrich, Dick Andrews, Bruce Deitch
We still need some volunteers to work with Suzanne in March.  May is also open.  If you will help, please sign up at our Jan. meeting.
    Our January meeting is on the 19th at 11:00.  Please come early and enjoy the conversations.  The speaker will be Patricia Henderson, Outreach Manager and Community Liason, Senior Connection Center, Inc.  Her topic is "Elder Abuse, Fraud and Scams."
    As usual, if you do not hear from your caller by Friday, the 13th, please call Sue Roe at 792-4786 or Mary Ann Jensen at 756-7603.
See you on the 19th,


Friday, December 9, 2016

December, 2016

    December is the busiest month for most of us.  I thought when my children had grown and my teaching was over, that the seasonal madness would recede.  I pictured myself wrapped cozily in a rocking chair reading a novel while the rest of the world shopped, cooked, decorated, and attended Christmas events.  Not so, folks.  The comfy chair at the fireside dream isn't happening.  There still are lots of domestic chores and community responsibilities which are not at all interested in my right to be in my dotage.  Charles Dickens's old ladies and gentlemen are artifacts of the past. 

    I am looking forward to the trip to Fisherman's Landing on the 14th.  I hope a lot of you signed up to come.  If you haven't yet taken advantage of some of the great outings Minnie Lee Jones puts together for us, consider joining in.  The next one is a trip to Mote Marine on Feb. 22.  We will be car pooling to this one.  She will give us more information later. 

    Our speakers in November were the Manatee County Schools Superintendent of Instruction, Cynthia Sanders, and the Superintendent of Business Operations, Ron Cirranna.  Both spoke about current and future activities in the schools. 

    Diana Buell, Scholarship Chair, said that all high schools have received their scholarship applications.  If you know a high school senior who is interested in becoming an educator, please urge him or her to pick up an application for the FREA and the MCREA Scholarships from a school guidance office.  Applications will be available from Diana at our next meeting if you want to encourage someone to apply.

    Every child in the FELT program received a book or two to take home on the Friday before Thanksgiving vacation.  A citizen of Manatee County who ran a bookstore on the internet decided to retire and donated his complete stock of children's books to FELT.  Of course, grade levels had to be assigned to all those books before they were given out.  A group of intrepid MCREA members went to the FELT office and completed at least half the inventory, more than enough for the distribution.  They will return to do the rest in the new year.  Thank you, Judy Shostrom, Deborah Thomas, and Joan Sackett for your help.  If anyone else would like to help out with this, please let us know.  More hands make it go much faster.  We don't use any formulae.  After all, most long-time teachers can just eyeball a book and decide a grade level.  We are the experts.

    Our December program on Thursday, December 15th, will be a holiday celebration.  The Bay Chorale will entertain us with Chanukah and Christmas music.  So dig out your Santa hat and your jingle bells and join us.  If you have not heard from your caller yet, please call Mary Ann Jensen at 756-7603 or Susan Roe at 792-4786.

    See you on the 15th,

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2016

    First, the Halloween pictures.

Obviously, the costumes were wonderful as usual.  First prize went to Bruce Dietch, the Scarecrow.  Second was Sharyn Hundley as Mary Poppins.  A coven of witches was third. There were many witches in attendance and I am not sure which ones made up the winning coven. (That was not a joke, folks.)
    Thanks to our innovative party planner, Sandra Stephenson, we again had a chance to win some exciting prizes playing Halloween Bingo. The MCREA Scholarship fund made some money which we will give away to at least two high school seniors in the spring.  If past recipients are eligible grade-wise and apply for another scholarship, we will consider them as well.  Of course, this gets expensive, but seeing these young people go into education helps us ensure that there will be good people in the schools in the future.
    FREA is offering $1000 grants to teachers to use in their classrooms.  Information about the grants is available on the FREA website -  If you know someone who might benefit from this opportunity, give him or her a heads-up to look this up.  You can do a lot with $1000 to really perk up a program.  I know FREA is especially interest in the STEM curriculum, but other innovative programs would also be considered.
  The FREA conference will be held on May 24-26 at the Hilton in Altamonte Springs.  If you have never attended one of these, I know you would enjoy learning more about FREA and about ideas for making MCREA more effective.  Also, the banquet and the meetings are fun.  There will be more information forthcoming about room rates (special usually for FREA) and the extra days that are usually available at those good rates if you want to hang around a little longer and see Hogwarts or do some shopping and dining at Disney.
    Renaissance on 9th has bumped our meeting from its usual third Thursday next month to Wednesday of that week, Nov. 16.  Evidently it was something they had to do because of a previous commitment which they had overlooked.  They were so sorry about it that they have offered us a dinner buffet instead of our usual lunch offering.  The buffet will have two entre items -- fish and/or meat.  Unfortunately, Superintendent Diana Greene, who was to be our speaker, could not change her schedule in order to accommodate this new date, so we will have a different program.  I do not have details about the replacement. 
    At the District 7 meeting in September, MCREA received several awards  Minnie Lee Jones received the District 7 Volunteer of the Year Award.  We received the Volunteer Service Award for all those hours we logged working in the community and with our youth.  We also received the Unit Membership Award for increasing our number of new members by 46% last year.  There is no doubt we are a viable and active group.  Now who will step up and accept the Treasurer's job? Ron has served us long and well, but he really wants to give up the position.  It isn't that difficult.  I feel that even I, an English major, could do it, but I have the Blog and am on some other committees as are all the current members of the Board.  We need a new person to join us.
    I hope you all have had a chance to sign up for the trip to Fisherman's Village which Minnie Lee, Cultural Affairs Chair, has organized for us.  We had fun at the last year's holiday visit to Selby Gardens and the trip through the Sarasota neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights.  On December 14, we will be leaving Bayshore Gardens Shopping Center at 3 p.m. for a bus ride to Fisherman's Village.  We will have dinner together there at Captain's Table, and then we will board a boat for a one hour cruise of the canals.  Residents along the route always decorate their houses, yards, and boats for Christmas. We should be back about 10:30 p.m.  The cost is $90.  Treat yourself to a night out with us. You don't need a buddy to go along because we will all be your buddies.  The deadline to sign up is Nov. 26.  Send your check to Minnie or give it to her at our next meeting.
    I put grade levels on 363 books last week and delivered them to FELT for the last food distribution before Thanksgiving.  The FELT folks were very appreciative of your great donations of really good books for these homeless kids  I must say it was all I could do to just grade level those books and not find myself a cozy corner and read, read, read.  They were outstanding examples of children's literature.  Now we must begin again in order to have more books for the last day before summer vacation.  I am sure you know how important it is for a child to have a book of his or her own.
    Remember we are also collecting food items for the Manatee County Food Bank. Also, Meals on Wheels is working on giving each person who receives meals an extra little something for Christmas.  Socks, small flashlights, toiletries etc. make great gifts. They have asked us to help them out with that.  They also appreciate gift bags and Christmas wrapping paper and bows.
  I hope I see you on November 16 at 11:30.  Don't forget --Wednesday instead of Thursday.  If you haven't heard from your caller in the previous week, call Sue Roe at 792-4785 or Mary Ann Jensen at 756-7603.