From the President’s Podium
A Brief History . . .
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. ~ Khalil Gibran
In 1951, a group of retired teachers from Bridgeport and neighboring towns decided that it would be in their best interest to form an organization dedicated to supporting the social, emotional, and financial needs of retired teachers. It was the beginning of the Greater Bridgeport Retired Teachers Association under the leadership of Miss Lucy Curtiss.
In its early years the organization focused on social activities—card parties, trips and lunches were popular. Annual dues were $1.00. Contributions to local charities depended upon the funds left in the treasury at the end of the fiscal year.
Soon the members realized that, in order to be able to take advantage of various State and Federal rules, the organization needed to have a legal Certificate of Incorporation as well as a set of By-laws and these were established and duly filed on August 14, 1963.
In summary, the certificates established the mission of the GBRTA as providing for the needs of retired teachers, supporting community charities, and providing scholarship assistance to students in order to promote the teaching profession. The certificate allowed the organization to solicit and manage funds to support those goals.
Bequests from members allowed the GBRTA first to save and later to invest funds that now support the $1,000 scholarships that are awarded to a graduating senior in each of the 16 public schools in GBRTA’s eight town area.
As pension and insurance issues became more complex, it became clear that our group of retired teachers could not keep up with developments in the State legislature. Our influence on legislation was limited. As a result, the GBRTA along with 14 similar organizations in the State became affiliates of the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut (ARTC) with a combined membership of 12,000 retired teachers.
This relationship continues with the ARTC providing information on legislative issues, supporting a lobbyist who maintains constant contact with legislators and organizing Lobby Day at which retired teachers meet with and inform legislators of issues of concern to them.
While card parties and fashion shows have gone the way of the hand-written letter, GBRTA maintains its mission of information and advocacy for retired teachers.
When you receive this newsletter, the political ads will have ended, the holiday season ads will be in full volume and we will have a new governor as well as several new legislators for us to educate Plan to attend Lobby Day.
Interestingly enough, when candidates Lamont and Stefanowski spoke at the ARTC lunch meeting, their responses to the four questions that they were given were nearly identical. They both vowed to protect our retirement and health benefits, leaned towards recommending that the state gambling revenues be used to help fund the retirement account, and both said that they would honor our agreements.
Obviously, there were differences on other issues, but when it came to retired teacher issues, they tended to agree. It will now be up to our state teacher retiree organizations, working together, to see that the new governor and the legislature live up to those promises.