Local MARSP group advocates for retired school personnel

The Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel has a local chapter that meets seven times a year at the Bungalow Inn and is open for anyone who has worked in education including  cooks, bus drivers, custodians, teachers and administrators, and a number of other school related occupations.


Russell Smith, Manistee Chapter President

The local group has a strong following that includes 156 members. Today the News Advocate speaks with Russell Smith, who is president of the local group, about the activities and services it offers for its members.

News Advocate: Can you tell me a little about the Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel’s history and how the group originated?

Smith: Established in 1951, MARSP is committed to being an advocate for all retired school personnel. The association has more than 100 chapters in Michigan, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee and Texas. MARSP has more than 45,000 members in Michigan and throughout the United States. The association is an advocate for quality public education in a non-partisan manner making it possible for all retirees to be involved regardless of political leanings. The group also seeks the preservation and enhancement of current levels of pension income and health insurance through legislation.

News Advocate: Do members come from all types of educational positions in this area?

Smith: Our membership includes persons who have served as cooks, bus drivers, custodians, teachers and administrators and a number of other school related occupations.

News Advocate: Who are the officers and board of directors of the local group?

Smith: The board of directors for this chapter  is responsible for the oversight and program development. The board consists of the following individuals:

* Russell Smith – President

* Vacancy – Vice-president

* Carol Urbanus – Secretary

* Evelyn Furman – Treasurer

Committee chairs also sit on the board of directors. They are:

* Winnie Toledo – Sunshine

* Frank Greco – Legislative

* John Brastrom – Insurance

* Mary Stewart – Scholarship

* Elaine Waldron – Membership

News Advocate: How often and where does the group meet?

Smith: Our group meets on the second Monday of the month in the months of April, May, June and September, October, November and December. The board of directors meets in the months of March and August. Meetings are held at 11:30 a.m. in the Bungalow Restaurant in Manistee.

News Advocate: How can someone become a member?

Smith: Persons wishing to become a member may contact one of the association’s officers, attend one of our meetings, or call directly to MARSP in Lansing, (888) 960-4022.

News Advocate: What types of things take place or are discussed at the meetings?

Smith: Monthly meetings always include current legislation, insurance issues and state of the organization. Generally we also have a speaker. September will be the Republican running for the 101 State House seat and next month will be the Democrat for the same position. For the month of November we have two speakers, one from BACN and another from Priority Health.

News Advocate: Does the group do any fundraising projects during the course of the year, and what types of programs do they support?

Smith: November is the month we have a food drive for the needy. In past years we have donated hundreds of pounds of food and money to pantries serving our area. The December meeting is devoted to a silent auction for our scholarship fund. Scholarships are awarded to students which are enrolling in course work that will lead to a degree in teaching. We do have a 50/50 drawing each month to support the Scholarship Fund and a pass the hat in June for the same purpose. Monthly we circulate a canister for Walk for the Cure.

News Advocate: Is there anything you would like to add?

Smith: Our members work tirelessly in the community for all kinds of projects. The Vogue Theater, Marilla Museum, and Fish in the Classroom come to mind. We are most proud of our program to provide out of classroom educational experiences (OOCEE) for our elementary school children. We did not retire, we only changed jobs. Our members realize that there is much to do in this world to make it a better place and they do it.


One of the many activities the local chapter of MARSP does is hold food drives for the local food pantries.









*This story appeared in the September 12, 2016, issue of the Manistee Advocate and was written by Ken Grabowski and used with permission.



Save the Date: MPSERS Member Education Seminars Scheduled for Fall

MPSERS’ Member Education Seminars to update members on healthcare changes for 2017 will take place during the following weeks in October, November, and December. A complete schedule with specific dates and locations will be posted on our website and social media as it becomes available.


Week of October 11, 2016 – Northern Michigan

Week of October 17, 2016 – West and Mid-Michigan

Week of October 24, 2016 – Southeast Michigan


Week of November 7, 2016


Week of December 6, 2016



MARSP Past-president Don Miller dies

Donald Miller - PictureBy Marie Wilkerson, MARSP Foundation Chairman

MARSP Past President Don Miller died on Monday, August 1, 2016. Don served on the MARSP Board of Directors in various positions for 15 years and will be greatly missed as a leader

His first years on the MARSP Board of Directors came when he served as Area 12 Director from 1995 to 2002; including service as a regional director for 2001-02.  He then took on the role of vice-president in 2002 and subsequently served as MARSP President from 2005-07

Don always brought insight and knowledge to the table regarding the function of MARSP, and will be missed for his quick wit and yet thoughtful suggestions for MARSP

He also served as legislative committee chairman and MPSERS Board Observer, as well as a director on the MARSP Foundation Board. He served as its secretary and was also the Foundation Endowment Fund Board Treasurer.

Mr. Miller joined MARSP as a life member in 1994 and served as vice-president, president and insurance chairman in his local Lapeer County Chapter.  He was a loyal supporter of MARSP

Don was also very active in his local community. He won the “Male Citizen of the Year” award from the City of Lapeer in 2010.  He served on boards and committees for the Literacy Center, Library, and Lapeer Housing Commission.  He also volunteered his time at the Refuge soup kitchen for the homeless, Seven Ponds Nature Center, Master Gardeners, the Goodfellows, and was an active member of his church.

In his spare time he loved to work in his flower gardens.  Don earned the status of master gardener. Don was a giving individual who will be greatly missed at MARSP!

Click here to view Don Miller’s obituary.


Court of Appeals orders healthcare funds to be refunded to school employees

Health Care Law

The Court of Appeals ruled on June 7, 2016, that school employees were unconstitutionally required to pay 3% towards retiree health care from 2010-2013 as they were not guaranteed to see that money.  The main effect of the ruling, which affirms a 2012 Court of Appeals ruling on the same law, means that public school employees who paid in the 3% from July 1, 2010 to January 9, 2013 will see those payments refunded, unless the state chooses to appeal once again. 

 The case is AFT-Michigan v. Michigan.  Certainly, the decision will have significant ramifications for the state, schools and school employees, as over $600 million is currently sitting in escrow.  Schools currently are paying a higher MPSERS rate due to the fact that this money was originally intended to go towards retiree health care, so if the money is ultimately refunded, schools will not see the MPSERS rate decrease they otherwise would if it were kept in the system.