Monday, November 6, 2017

November, 2017

It is very difficult to stay upbeat in these days of dreadful events happening almost weekly.  Writing this blog seems unimportant when my thoughts keep turning to those devastated families in Texas who have lost their loved ones to a madman with a high powered assault weapon while they were attending church.  This is just the latest atrocious act against innocent people going about their lives with no idea that those lives would be to be abruptly changed or ended.  Can we all stand up and say, "Stop it!  Make some gun laws to control the sale of assault weapons or lose the next election.  We are coming for you and no gun lobby can change our votes!"  Let's get busy calling and emailing. The Congress must fix this!

Although there weren't as many costumes at our Halloween party this year, our members made up for the loss in numbers with exceptional creativity.
Cute witches.

Sue, the jelly fish

Phantom of the Opera,

Royal garden party hat

Red Hot Mama

Dr. Pumpkin

Red Riding Hood meets Wolf
Once again, Sandra Stephenson entertained us with Halloween Bingo, and the prizes were astounding.  Best of all, the MCREA Scholarship Fund benefitted from your donations of quarters.
Phyllis Omilak, President, reported on the District FREA meeting which was held in Sarasota on Oct. 10th.  MCREA won several awards again this year:  Mac Aldrich is the FREA 2017 Unit Volunteer; our unit received the FREA 2017 Volunteer Services Activity Award; we also received the FREA 2017 Unit Membership Award.
Elaine Waldron, Chair of Membership and the Handbook expects to hand out our new handbooks at the Nov. meeting.  Come and pick yours up fresh off the press.  You can't tell the players without a program. (Yes, I have attended at lot of baseball games.)
At our Nov.15th meeting, Michael Kovacs will speak to us about Medicare and RMD at age 70 and a half.  Please note that the date has been changed to Wednesday, Nov. 15th due to a previous event at Renaissance. 
Because Feeding Empty Little Tummies (FELT) has taken on so many more tummies, they aren't able to store and distribute our books this year.  So, the board has decided to continue distributing books ourselves.  The first group of 50 were taken out to Samoset Elementary by Sue Roe.  She taught and substituted there so she knew the school and its faculty which helped get the books to the kids who would most benefit from them.  As soon as we have another bunch of books, we will see that they get distributed to another school.  If you have a school in mind where you are known and you would like to take some books there, please tell me or any other board member, and we will set you up with books. Now, of course, everything depends on members still donating new or lightly used books.  The central library has them on sale  in their book store.  In addition to the Goodwill Book Store at Tara, there is a new one open on Manatee Ave. W. in the old Goodwill location.  Some of you are still sentimental about those books you loved from your teaching days, but perhaps this is the time to send them on to kids who would love them too.
If you do not hear from your caller for some reason, please call Mary Ann Jensen, 756-7603 or Phyllis Omilak, 723-1360.
See you on Wednesday, Nov. 15th,

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

October, 2017

      Ah, October at last.  Soon I will open our windows and enjoy the autumn breezes as they sweep the dog hair, cat hair, and dust into the corners so that I can catch them better.  If I feel like it.  The older I get, the less I am interested in housework, yard work, and just work in general.  There are so many other interesting things to do.  Although I don't dwell on my demise, I am aware that it can't be too far away, or at least my ability to be active will be curtailed, so I have to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of my days.  Now that doesn't mean that I am on the road all the time.  Just reading and watching television take up a lot of my time.  I have to admit that it does take longer to cook dinner now, but I love going to Bay Chorale once a week, even though my pipes are not as agile as they once were.  It's the friends I see there and at AAUW and at MCREA who keep me going. Considering my long life so far, it has always been my family and my friends that were the most important part.  All the achievements, prestige, education, and possessions which once seemed important are like the dust in the corners now.  I can't be bothered wasting time on them.
    Our September meeting was eventful as usual.  We came for the fellowship, the great lunch, and the program, in that order.  Each item met my criteria. We welcomed some new members and I hope more are considering joining us.  Our speakers from Take Stock in Children asked for volunteers to mentor students one day a week through 8-12th grade.  Another new volunteering opportunity that they presented was to become a mentor to a college student who has graduated from the program and may need help managing his or her initial college experience.  As an example, she mentioned one mentor who helped a student who was being overcharged for car repair.  Yes, practical things that we learned from our families, which may not be available to a student who is the first to attend college in his or her family, or who no longer lives at home. 
    Our October meeting is always a highlight of the year.  Come in costume if you can.  We will have a costume parade and prizes for the best.  Through the years, we have seen some highly original ones.  Sandra Stephenson will again lead us in Halloween Bingo with great (well, interesting)  prizes for the winners.  Remember to bring 20 quarters to play.  The money will go to our local MCREA Scholarship. 
    We are still collecting food for the Manatee Food Bank, toiletries and other items for the Salvation Army, and children's books for distribution at as yet undecided venue. FELT is so overwhelmed with children's food distribution that they have little time and no storage space for our books.  Also, they were gifted with a books from an on-line retailer who retired.  Those books are currently being stored by the Kiwanis Club.  If you have a suggestion for a school or other place that would welcome our books, let me know.  The Board will be deciding the venue at our Oct. meeting.
     I hope to see you on Wednesday, Oct. 18.  We cannot meet on our usual Thursday because of an event previously engaged at Renaissance on 9th.  If your caller has not gotten in touch before Oct. 14, please call Mary Ann Jensen at 792-4127 or Phyllis Omilak at 723-1360.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

August, 2017

As I am writing this, it has started to rain which is a perfect backdrop for the news which I have just received.  Carolyn Steele called to tell me that Nancy Carson died this morning.  It is so hard to believe that Nancy, who was always so vital and healthy, has been ill for a while, and today left us.  I don't know much about what happened, but, according to Carolyn, she was undergoing chemotherapy.  Perhaps we will know more later although she did not have relatives here.  For those of you who did not know Nancy, she was the first woman in Manatee County to become a secondary school principal at King Middle School.  She did the job with great enthusiasm, doing her best to make her school a success.

    On a much brighter note, I received this letter from one of our scholarship recipients.  I will share it with you in its entirety since he addressed it to all of us.

Manatee County REA,
Thank you for your financial assistance toward my college expenses back in 2012.  I recently graduated with my Master's Degree from Florida State University, majoring in mathematics education.  This was directly after completing the FSU-Tech undergraduate program, graduating Magna Cum Laude.  I am now set to start teaching at Palm Bay Magnet High School in August.  Being able to accomplish these goals would have been impossible without your support.
Thank you.
Jacob Kargauer

                                            Jacob when he was a freshman at FSU

    I am looking forward to seeing you on Thursday, Sept 21, 11:15, at Renaissance on 9th.  The cost of lunch this year will be $18 which includes tax, so there will be no tax tubs on the tables.  It is important to know that we are getting a better price than is usually offered to groups.

   Dr. Greene has had to postpone her talk until April due to her responsibilities as Superintendent.  We will be hearing a presentation from Take Stock in Children.  Most of you are aware of the remarkable success they have with sending Manatee County kids to college.  Now we will hear some details.

    If you have not heard from your caller before Sept. 16, please call Mary Ann Jensen at 756-7603 or me at 794-1646, and we will make a reservation for you.

    Dues must be paid in Sept. is you want your name to appear in the yearbook.

See you soon,


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MCREA, June 2017

    We were happy to welcome our MCREA Scholarship winners to our May meeting.  Attending were Olyanna Koniszcyuk and her mother. Olyanna is a graduate of Lakewood Ranch H.S. and she will attend the University of West Florida.  Abigail Reese, a graduate of Lakewood Ranch H.S. who will attend USF, also brought her mother. 

    Natalie Navarrete, who will attend Southwestern University, graduated from Palmetto H.S., but was unable to be there.  Sabre Hensley of Braden River H.S., who will attend USF, was also unable to be with us.

    Danielle Guida, who is a rising junior at Florida Southern, applied for and received our third year scholarship which is awarded to previous high school winners who remain in education and who maintain excellent grades.  Danielle also brought her mother.

    Diana Buell, Scholarship Chair, was a gracious hostess.  I squeezed in at their table and thoroughly enjoyed meeting the group.  It is particularly hopeful to know that there are some enthusiastic young people entering our profession. 

    We bade goodbye to our stalwart Treasurer, Ron Schneider, who finally has found Judy Bodmer to take over his tasks.  We thank him for shouldering the job for years after his initial term was over.  Of course, he isn't going anywhere but now some of us can get to know Ron as he joins us for lunch.  Now everyone must support Judy as she takes on the role of Treasurer.

    Plans for our next season include the New Member Breakfast on Friday, August 4, at 10 a.m.  I will remind you later to send your newly and other retired friends and to accompany them if you wish. Guests will be gratis, and members will pay $10.  Our lunch meetings will be at Renaissance again. The price has gone up to $18, but we are still getting a bargain when we compare that price to the one other groups pay. 

    For planning ahead, our meetings will be the third Thursday of each month from September through May, except in October and November, when both will be on the third Wednesday.

Have a great summer,

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,