Thursday, October 11, 2018

October, 2018

    We were extremely lucky this week as Hurricane Michael roared by us up the Gulf.  I don't know if there is some kind of karma involved here that ordains that when you get red tide of enormous proportions, then you don't get a killer hurricane too.  Anyway, I am sure that given a choice, the residents of the Panhandle would have picked the red tide as their punishment instead of what they got. 

    Thought provoking to all of us should be the possibility that both events were the results of one ominous situation -- climate change. The Gulf got really hot this summer.  I have an unscientific basis of proof that the air did also.  My electric bill went up about $50 each month in the summer.  Hotter water breeds bigger hurricanes and adds to the abundance of the organisms that create red tide.  Am I wrong?  Is this heating up just a normal cycle of earth's climate?  Did God create it?  Or did carbon and gases released into the atmosphere by human endeavors create it? Or some combination of the two?  No matter who's at fault, should we not be clamoring that the government put a halt to the most obvious of pollution makers?  It is almost election day.  I urge you to take your interest in the environment with you into the voting booth.  And I think that God would like to see you do that also.

    At the District VII Meeting, Deborah Thomas led the group as the District VII Director.  Joan Sackett was a lucky winner. 

Our September meeting at the Mall was well attended (95) and the food was great.  Attorney Donna Sobel spoke about Elder Law.  I picked up some interesting information such as to make sure that when writing an advanced directive, it is important to include the right of your surrogate to hire or fire your doctors.  For instance, if you do not have that language there, and your surrogate is aware that you wanted to cut off artificial aids for eating and breathing, then your doctors could insist on keeping those things going.  Those are not pleasant suggestions, but ones that some of us have already considered.  Here's another.  If you are in a nursing home and you have used up all your assets to pay for your care, the government may not take your home as an asset since it is part of the Homestead Act in Florida, and it is protected.  I thought this information was extremely valuable.

    The venue at the Mall is quite nice and very roomy.  It seems a little strange to me that here we are in Camelot Music eating lunch.  People passing by peek in and probably think it is strange too.

    At our October 18th meeting, Elaine Waldron's committee will hand out the MCREA Handbooks.  Please check your name and information.  If there are needed changes, let Phyllis Omilak, Elaine Waldron, Judy Bodmer, or me know.  If you didn't get your dues renewal in before the last week in September, alas, your name will not be there.  However, if you pay soon, we will put out an addendum that can be added to the book with your information on it.

    MCREA thanked David Brown who audited our books with a $50 gift card for his service.

    Susan Roe has volunteered to head the Fifth Grade Essay Contest Committee.  I have at least a hundred books that need to be donated to a couple of schools.  If you can take 50 for a school, please let me know.  I will bring them to the meeting in October.  The only thing we insist on is that the books must be given directly to the kids, not the library or a classroom library. Bruce Dietch took 50 books to Sugg last month.  They were middle school and high school level books that my daughter had collected when she taught reading at Bayshore H.S.

      If you do not hear from your caller this week, please call Mary Ann Jensen to make a reservation.  Her number is 756-7603.  We will celebrate Halloween with Halloween Bingo led by Sandra Stephenson.  Be sure to bring your 20 quarters to play. Costumes are fun but not required.  There will be prizes for the most original. 



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

MCREA Blog August 21, 2018

    School began very early this year.  When I walk my dog in the morning, I see the teacher up the street hurrying out to her car at 7:15 a.m.  I have to admit, I am not envious.  Thanks to the added funds passed by the community-spirited voters of Manatee County, at least the pay schedule is a little better.  However, the school day is a half hour longer. But, perhaps paying the health insurance deducted from educators' paychecks will not be quite as onerous.

    But just when we thought the school system was on a more even keel comes the news that the new computer programs initiated to keep the books on teacher pay schedules and work schedules is way over budget.  Oh my!  What can the voters think now, when they stepped up to help only to discover that so much money has been lost to this newest failure of the administration to control its spending.  The public does not understand the cubby hole system of finance that allocates some money to maintenance, some to building, some to instruction, etc.  To them, it is just all one amount which has been wasted. Optics matter and voters will not be so quick to tax themselves next time.

    The MCREA gathering of new retirees was a great success.  Several new members joined and some others are considering joining.  The reception was held at the Mall on August 16.  Our caterers from the old Renaissance provided the food, as they will when we have our meetings at the Mall this year.  It is really a pleasant atmosphere there.  The interior has been painted and the overhead windows have been replaced.  Slowly, businesses are returning.  If you haven't been to the new antique and collectible store in the old Macy's area, you will enjoy visiting it before or after a lunch meeting.  Security has been stepped up also.

Minnie Lee Jones took these pictures of the event at the Mall.


    Three candidates for the Manatee County School Board accepted our invitation to make a two minute presentation at our new retirees event.  Susan Darovek, Legislative Chair, had given them  a question to answer during their talk.  "What can you see yourself doing as a School Board Member to support new hires opting to join the Florida Retirement System Plan as they are going through the hiring process?

Joe Stokes said new teachers should be informed about FRS when they fill out their employment forms.  (As you know, the Legislature did away with this plan as the default choice.) 

Jim Daniels said the statistics of the differences between the plans should be presented to new hires.  He also said the School District should match individual contributions made to the FRS.

Richard Murphy said that at 22 years of age, workers tend to look at what they will earn now.  They need to be informed of the retirement choices during initial meetings with them.

    Deborah Thomas, District 7 Director of FREA, has announced the annual District 7 meeting. which will be held on Oct. 9, at the Holiday Inn at the Sarasota Bradenton Airport, located at 8009 15th St. E., Sarasota, 9:30a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  Enrollment fee of $25 includes lunch.  Those wishing to attend should call Deborah at 752-6895.

    Carole Monaco, new Cultural Affairs Chair, has organized an event on Sept.14, at 11:00 a.m., at the Designer and Topaz Boutique, 1870 University Parkway, Sarasota.  15 people may attend.  The vendor will donate $200 to MCREA.  There will be a musical fashion show and sales of the fashions will follow.  Although no one is required o purchase anything, you may be very tempted, I am told by last year's attendees.  Lunch will be arranged after the show at a nearby restaurant.

    Minnie Lee Jones also sent me some pictures of one of our MCREA Scholarship winners who attended the May meeting with her parents.  She also shot the photos of the group that attended the trip to Washington.  I will send those to you in an email since I am having trouble getting everything into this blog.  Minnie Lee has stepped down as our Cultural Affairs Chair this year.  We all thank her for the great times we had visiting interesting places together.  I think the "together" is the important word.  Having friends to accompany you can get you out of your rut and having fun.

    Our first meeting will be at the Mall, at 11:00, on September 30.  I hope to see you there.  If you do not hear from your caller a week or so ahead of time, call Mary Ann Jensen at 756-7603 to make a reservation.  Bring your retired educator friends who have not joined us yet.  We do have fun, besides doing great work for the community. 

    Don't forget to vote on August 28.  The county, state, and nation need to hear from senior, experienced people who love their communities, their schools, their children, and their country.


Friday, June 1, 2018

June 1, 2018

    After all the rain, the summer has arrived.  I just walked my dog and my son's dog up the street.  The pavement was hot, hot, hot.  Zia, the next-door poodle, got right down to business and turned around heading home.  Sailor, my shepherd, said "What's the rush, Frenchie?"  But it wasn't long before she too decided to go home.  I wasn't sorry to give up the trek either.  We are so spoiled by the air conditioning that we can't endure the Florida sun.

    It seems impossible, but my first six years here, I had no air conditioning.  We did have fans positioned all around the house that pushed the hot air around and helped a little. Our little cottage in Cortez had windows on all sides to catch any breezes that happened by.  The windows also lured any mosquitoes and sand gnats that could muscle their way around and through the screens.  But we thrived anyway.  When we moved to our new house that had central air, I rationed it, only using it at night. 

    Of course, that was good conditioning for teaching at Southeast High School  that had windows on one side only and an exhaust fan that was supposed to pull air into the classroom.  The fan didn't do much good, so the fans of Cortez were employed again.  Sometimes they were so clattery that we had to shout to hear each other.  Each class period had at least one student technician who adjusted the jalousie windows to just the right angle to draw in the most air.  I thought it helped them feel better, so I was always willing to let them have a go.  The worst time of day was just after lunch when it was the hottest, and we were all the sleepiest. I had to walk around the room to keep myself awake.  It was in the afternoon that the gnats were the worst also, especially after PE when clouds of them would follow the sweaty bodies to Room 104.  Unfortunately, the sewer system was malfunctioning most of the time, so those gnats carried bacteria.  I went to the doctor so many times with pink eye that he finally gave me several bottles of the medicine to keep in my fridge. 

    As I reread the above paragraphs I realize that the narrative sounds like something from another century -- and I guess it was, 1964-74.  I am sure that some of you have similar tales to tell.  What would you think about writing them down and putting them all in a book about teaching school in Manatee County in the mid to late 20th Century?  There are lots of tales to tell about the teachers' strike, the diseases like encephalitis and meningitis that occurred in students.  Some of the teaching techniques were  weird also.  Do you remember that a group of junior high kids who couldn't read were transported to the vocational school in the afternoons to practice crawling?   Yes, it happened.  Also, there was colored reading.  We could tell some tales.  Please type something up, or long hand it, and send it to me.  I will see about getting it in some kind of order for publishing.  I'll let the MCREA Board decide how to go from there.

    I am so sorry that I missed the Dollars for Scholars Auction.  I heard it was a great success with many people offering items and lots of competition vying for them.  More than $300 was taken in for our Scholarship Fund. 

    Our MCREA Scholarship winners this year are the following:
      Danielle Guida who received $1000 as a renewal of her first award.  She also received $1000     
      from FREA.
      Taylor Trent, Lakewood Ranch H.S., SCF      $1000
      Jalyn Brown, Manatee H.S., Harvard   $1000 (Elaine Brown's granddaughter)
      Megan Grooms, Manatee H.S., SCF   $1000
      Kayley Alsina,  SCF Collegiate School, USF, $1000

    We have now distributed 575 books to elementary schools in Manatee County.  In the latest distributions,  Carolyn Brown took 50 to Palmetto Elementary.  Last week, Nancy Erwin took 50 to Bayshore Elementary and I took 50 to Seabreeze Elementary.  In all places, the principals were very appreciative of the books and planned to hand them out to kids who might not have any books at home.  Assistant Principal Deborah Cook at Seabreeze wrote a thank you email that got home before I did.  Each of those books has a book plate pasted in it that gives MCREA credit for donating the book.  Not only do we add reading to a kid's agenda, we also get publicity for doing it. 

    Some of you asked about the time frame for getting a business card published in our handbook.  Elaine Waldron must hear from you by the September meeting if your card is to be included. 

    The MCREA New Member Reception will be at the DeSoto Mall meeting site on August 16, at 10:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M.  The cost for members for the continental breakfast is $10.  New prospective members will be our guests.  Think about those colleagues who retired when you did and have not joined us and those you know who are retiring this year.  Invite them to attend and come along too. I read in the paper this morning that Sears will remain open, so you can shop after the event too.  If you haven't been to the Mall lately, it is looking much better, repainted, cleaned, ready for trade.  Also, security is everywhere.

    Please pay your dues as soon as possible.  Send your check for $55 (covers FREA dues too) to Treasurer Judy Bodmer, 5111 134th Terrace East, Parrish, FL 34219.  For information, email Judy at

    Pastor Dexter McDowell has requested that we ask members for help with students in a summer camp he is running at his church at 650 27th St. East in Bradenton.  He plans to tutor students in the mornings and offer enrichment in the afternoons.  His phone number is 941-228-4978.  You can also call Kathy Williams at 941-704-2936.  The camp's mission is to address the learning growth of under served children in the community.

   Christine Olson contacted Phyllis Omilak to request that we inform our members of her program that insures immediate notification of a serious accident or the death of a loved one.  To register your information so it will be used to notify family members in case of the previous situations, email  Go to "Tiff's Initiative to register.

    The Primary Election takes place on August 28.  School board races are on the ballot.  Although the candidates must be from a certain district in order to run, voters may vote for anyone in any district.  If you would like a ballot mailed to you, call the Manatee County Elections Office, or order one on line at their website.  There are many confusing and lumped up amendments to the Florida Constitution on the ballot. You may want to consider them at your leisure before voting.  Having a ballot at home ahead of time really helps.

    Here are some photos that Judy Bodmer sent me which were taken at the FREA Conference in May. 

    Perhaps you may want to go to the conference next year.  Remember to bring your western dance hall costume or cowboy get up or even your big red bow.  I don't know what was going on.  You will have to ask the participants.  Seriously, I have attended a couple of conferences and they were a lot of fun as well as being informative about FREA and its work for us.

    Have a great summer.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

May 6, 2018

     And here we are at our last meeting until September.  The year seem to fly by now that I am not watching a clock in a classroom.  How slowly some of those days were.  My son said on a Friday that if he were still out on the playground sweating in the hot sun, it would only be Wednesday.  At retirement everything seems to move much more quickly because usually the tasks are much simpler to do and more diverse.  At least I think that is the reason for the speed up.  But it could be that is much faster going downhill. 

    Thank you for all the books you brought to our last meeting.  There were more than 100 really nice ones to get out to the schools right away because the last day of school is near.  Patty Edwards and I delivered 50 to Palma Sola Elementary in April.  That is a total of 375 books that we have sent to elementary school children since September.  I have at least 100 more that we should get out there.  We want the principal or assistant principal to be involved in the process because we want the books to be given to children, not stored in a library or a teacher's classroom library.  It is important to also think about the children who are not in a Title 1 school, but who are not typical of the usual population in a non-Title 1 school.  All elementary schools have reduced lunch families.  Probably those parents are not as liable to be buying expensive children's books when they have to keep to a tight budget for the necessities of life.

    So, who knows a principal or someone who can get you into a school to deliver a box of 50 books?  Please let me know and I will bring the books to you at our next meeting, or sooner if you prefer.
Call me 794-1646 or email me at The schools and those who delivered books follow:
Sue Roe                                                             Oneco Elemenatry
Deborah Thomas                                               Rogers Gardens Elementary
Judy Shostrom and Judi Ussery                        Samoset Elementary
Connie Myers                                                    Ballard Elementary
Carol Champlain                                               Tillman Elementary 
Bruce Dietch                                                      Sugg Middle
Elaine Graham                                                   Prine Elementary
Pat Edwards                                                       Palma Sola Elementary

    David Brown who has been an FREA Trustee for several years is stepping down  His position will be filled by Karla Brogdon.  The duties of the Trustees are to oversee the FREA Scholarship Foundation.  Deborah Thomas has accepted the position of District VII Director.  Susan Davorac is the District VII Volunteer of the Year.  Our Essay Contest Winner, Julian Sylva, was chosen winner  of the District VII Essay Contest.  His essay has been forwarded to FREA to compete with the winners from the other district.

    MCREA members contributed 18,000 volunteer hours this counting period.  No slouches, us!

    Danielle Guida has received the recurring scholarship from the FREA Scholarship Foundation.  She is in her 4th year.  She will also be receiving another MCREA Scholarship.  She plans to spend part of her last year studying in Spain where she will live with a local family.  We have four new MCREA Scholarship winners.  We hope they will be able to attend our May luncheon so we can congratulate them and remark on how young they are.

    Elaine Waldron announced that our Handbook will be accepting ads.  If you have a business which you would like to include, please give a business card to Elaine.  The price is reasonable  --$10 per business card and $25 for a full page. If you can sell an ad to a business not affiliated with MCREA, those will be accepted also.  The purpose is to raise enough to pay for the handbook production.


Dr. Diana Greene

    We enjoyed hearing from Dr. Greene, Superintendent of the Manatee County Schools.  She spoke about the referendum that passed and provides funds to raise teacher and support staff salaries.  Of course, after this meeting, we read that perhaps we will be losing this reasonable, calm, and dedicated leader to another Florida county.  I believe she has brought equilibrium and structure to our schools, but this will be a chance for her to return to her home county.

    Our May meeting should be lots of fun.  Last year's Dollars For Scholars auction was a great success with some of us "winning" great prizes.  Remember, the big prize winners were the mothers of the scholarship winners.  Please look around your cluttered houses and choose some wonderful item or items that you know one of us needs to further clutter up our houses.  Seriously, at our ages, we have amassed lots of stuff, but will our children want it?  This is an opportunity to re-gift without guilt because the ticket money goes to the scholarship fund.  We will not be doing our show and tell event this year in order to give us lots of time to peruse the wonderful items on the auction block. 

    If you haven't heard from your caller by May 13, call Mary Ann Jensen at 756-7603 to make a reservation.  This will be our last meeting at the IMG Country Club.  Next year we will meet at the De Soto Mall with our favorite chef and staff from Renaissance on 9th serving our lunch.  Same price, great food, and we can shop afterwards!

See you soon,

Thursday, April 12, 2018

April 12, 2018

      You have to admit we are quite a handsome group of retired educators.  Considering what we have been through in our careers, we have emerged in very fine fettle.  I heard once that what you are inside is what you will resemble when you get older.  We were good people, so we look good now.  Agreed?
      We had 81 reservations for our March meeting.  There may have been more added later.  Our numbers are strong and we continue to grow and to prosper.  We enjoy coming to meetings and renewing old and new friendships.  We also see the need for remaining informed about the actions of the School Board in Tallahassee (the Legislature) as it affects not just us, but present educators and children.  We give back to the community with our scholarships, our volunteering in the schools, and our wealth of knowledge about education, which we are happy to share with those who ask for it. 
      As an example, Bruce Dietch, member and retired English teacher from Sugg Middle, was recently honored with two awards.  One is from the Manatee Schools for Senior Volunteer of the Year and the other from the State of Florida as one of five Senior Adult Volunteers of the Year. 
      Dr. Mona Jain, also a long-time member of MCREA, was honored by having a new Manatee County middle school named after her. 
      We have distributed 275 books to schools so far this year.  Oneco, Rogers Gardens, Samoset, Ballard, Tillman, and Sugg Middle were the schools so far to get books.  Connie Myers delivered books to Ballard.  Carol Champlain took some to Tillman, and Bruce Deitch took 25 middle school level books to Sugg.  We have enough now for 50 more to be distributed.  Prine has been suggested and I need someone who knows that school to volunteer to take them there.  We try to give them to the principal with the stipulation that they must be given to the kids, not to the library or to a classroom collection.  Let me know if you know Prine, and I will see that you get a box of books to deliver there.  Please continue gathering your books and shopping for some at the used book stores and your grandchildren's book shelves.  Bring them to the meetings.  FREA sends me some pretty bookplates to stick in each book that says they are from MCREA.
      At our last meeting, we voted to name one of our MCREA Scholarships, the Elaine Brown Scholarship.  Elaine was a tireless chair of the scholarship committee who believed that our help would create future teachers.  
      If you have received a notice from the State FREA that your membership is due, be aware that you should pay those dues through your local MCREA group so that you will receive membership in both groups.  I think FREA sends those out because some counties do not have active Retired Educator groups.  By the way, we are accepting membership dues for next year now and they can be paid at a meeting or by mail to your MCREA Treasurer, Judy Bodmer.
      At our last meeting, Adam Stockdale gave us an overview of the Robinson's Preserve as it now stands and as it will change in the future.  It covers 487 acres and has 6 miles of trails. The Valentine House, which was moved from Palmetto by water, offers art exhibits and other events.  There is a kayak launching area and storage for kayaks as well.  A salt marsh, a primitive trail with wild flowers and butterflies, marsh rabbits and fiddler crabs, an observation tower to overlook the Preserve, the Perico Boardwalk, a rubberized 1.5 mile running track, and a new education center were among the must-sees.  Oh, and they need volunteers.  Who better than educators to help?
      Our April 19 meeting at the IMG Golf Club will feature Dr. Diana Greene as our speaker. We have scheduled Dr. Greene before but because of last minute demands on her time, she could not be with us.  We hope she will be able to get away from what must be a very taxing position for a little while, to speak to us.  I have heard her speak at other occasions and she is very informed and surprisingly unruffled, calm, and friendly. How she is coping with the school board in disarray, the county balking at sharing the costs of policing the schools, and all the other items on her plate, I can only imagine.  Come and find out.
      If you do not hear from your caller, please call Mary Ann Jensen at 756-7603 or Phyllis Omilak at 723-1360 before April 15. 
      See you soon,

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March 6, 2018

Our second meeting at IMG Golf and Country Club was well attended.  82 signed up and I think there were even more there.
      These past weeks have been difficult ones for all of us in education, especially in Florida.  I know we were all very distressed by the events at Stoneham Douglas High School, so distressed that I have heard from several of you that sleeping has become difficult and that you are experiencing other forms of anxiety.  We know how important each one of those lost kids was, not just to their families and friends, but to the larger community.  Who knows what they might have become and what they might have contributed to the world? 
      The Florida Legislature has reacted in the ways we could have expected.  They dither and worry about their grades from the NRA.  Their most prominent plan is to arm teachers.  We the ones who encourage and elicit learning will now be asked to kill.  Madness, but cheaper than adding more mental health counselors and facilities.  Additional police on the school premises are also planned. 
      Today, in the Bradenton Herald, there was a photo of a new resource officer patrolling the fence line at Prine Elementary School.  Imagine the scenario: a shooter armed with an assault rifle waits until the policeman passes by, then shoots him with his rapid firing weapon designed to kill people.  Or, if the shooter misses, the officer draws his revolver and is shot head on.  I guess that is when the armed teachers would spring to the rescue and probably go down in the next rounds of gunfire from that highly efficient weapon. 
      Meanwhile in Tallahassee, the Legislature is about to pass a bill to get rid of FEA.  Heroic teachers do not require representation to negotiate their salaries or their working conditions.  If MEA would survive, there must be at least 50% of those eligible for membership in the county who have paid their dues.  When I was a member, we seldom had 50% membership, as surprising as that seemed.  I guess the others would have been willing to let the school board decide the salary and work conditions for the employees with no input from the employees.  And that is what will probably happen if the legislation passes.  Oh, also, kids who are bullied can apply for vouchers to private schools.  Private Schools!  No one ever bullies anyone there, I guess.  And what constitutes bullying?  Guide lines for receiving a voucher are not available.  They'll think of those later.
      Okay, rant is over. 
      Joel Hornes, Guardian Ad Litem, discussed his organization.  He asked us to consider volunteering for working with the children who have been removed from their families or who are being returned and must be monitored.  He felt that educators (heroes) like us would be most able to do the job. Perhaps it wasn't the best time to approach us for help, but some of you might consider doing this important service.  According to Hornes, Guardian Ad Litems get a lot of respect and are listened to in the court and in the community
    We have 50 more lovely books to send to Ballard Elementary School.  Connie Myers has volunteered to take them.  I believe I have 50 more for another school.  We will discuss the site at our board meeting.  If you have a school in mind and you would like to deliver a box of books there, please let any member of the board know.  In the meantime, keep those books coming in.  You have done a great job.
      The MCREA Board has decided to discontinue the drive for food items for the Food Bank.  It is very difficult to get them to the pickup point now that we are not at Renaissance.  We will still collect items like toiletries, socks, etc. for the homeless however.
      The time has come to pay your dues for 2018-19.  Bring a check, or cash, to our meeting this month. If we can get most everyone to renew before summer, we will not have to make as many phone calls to remind you, and we can get the Handbook out sooner.  Dues are $55.  Checks should be made out to MCREA. 
      I heard some sad news yesterday.  Elaine Brown passed away Monday morning.  It was very quick, and after transport to the hospital, she did not regain consciousness.  I know I will miss her and I am sure many of you will also.  She led the Scholarship Committee for many years.  The committee still uses her directions and information sheets.  As soon as I hear about her funeral, I will let you know via email.
      Our next meeting will be at 11a.m, on Thursday, March 15, at the IMG Country Club.  If you do not hear from your caller by Saturday, March 10, please call Mary Ann Jensen, 756-7603 to make a reservation.  Our speaker will be Aedan Stockdale who will tell us about opportunities at the Robinson Preserve.
See you there,

Thursday, February 8, 2018

February 8, 2018

    As you can see, we made the change to IMG Country Club in January.  I am happy to report that the lunch was very good, especially the cheesecake dessert.  It was served efficiently and the view was great as usual.  The only drawback, of course, was that we missed our friends at Renaissance who always took such good care of us.  I do like the light at IMG for photos.  They are much sharper, but they do tend to wash the subjects out a bit.  I will try to handle the light better next time.

    Our speaker was Susan Atherton, Director of Charitable Legacy Planning and Development at the Manatee Community Foundation.  She encouraged us to consider leaving funds in our wills for scholarships for students who pursue careers in education.  She also reported that there are scholarships available for such students right now.  If you know someone who is planning to enter or who is already a student at a college, encourage him or her to call the Manatee Community Foundation for information.

    Thanks to your continuing donations of books, we have 50 new ones to take to Samoset Elementary.  Judi Ussery, Diana Buell, and Judy Shostrum will see that they get there and are given to students.  Now we need a new destination for our books.  If you would like to volunteer to distribute some, let me know.  We are trying to choose schools where there is a an abundance of children who do not have ready access to books of their own.  So far, we have been to Oneco, Rogers Gardens, and now Samoset. 

    In my childhood in a remote area of Maine during the Great Depression, I still remember the excitement when our teacher opened the box of books that came from the state capitol of Augusta a few times a year.  We waited on the edge of our seats as she slowly pulled them out one at a time, describing the story in each.  When she finished, we were allowed to raise our hands and hope to be the one chosen to get a book.   Usually, there were enough to go around.  We were allowed to take a book home for a week and then return it for another.  I don't remember how long the box of books was ours, but I do remember hurrying to read one to get another, so it must have been a relatively short period.  Perhaps our books might have a similar effect. 

    Speaking of books, the elementary school book fairs serve much the same purpose.  We may quibble a bit about the high prices on the offerings, but the children that come with their classmates to shop for them have much the same anticipation that I had back in Maine.  The downside, of course, is that often the families cannot afford the prices, especially if there is more than one child in the family.  Helping out at a book fair, I have seen parents come in with a handful of dollars and change to purchase just one that their child had pleaded for, and then be crestfallen when they had not taken into account that there would be a sales tax on the book.  Fortunately, the librarian usually had a slush fund of some sort to help with that. Volunteers often chipped in to help buy a book or two also.

    Besides the books, please remember that we are collecting non-perishable food for the Manatee Food Bank and toiletries and other items for the Salvation Army to disperse to their clients. The winter has been rather harsh this year and it must have been miserable to be homeless. 

    Our speaker in February will be Aedan Stockdale of Guardian Ad Litem.  I hope to see you all there.  Remember the IMG Country Club is the old El Conquistador Country Club located on El Conquistador Avenue.  If you do not hear from your caller, call Mary Ann Jensen, 756-7603.