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