Blog

20 Nov
0

Happy Thanksgiving from TRTA and TRTF!

Dear TRTA members and TRTF supporters,

At this time of year, we like to reflect on the great things we have accomplished together and show our appreciation to our members, friends, and supporters, all of whom are special to us!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) Board of Directors and the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) Board of Trustees are so very thankful for the time you spend volunteering for TRTA and for donating to help fund TRTF’s many charitable programs.

So far, TRTF has raised $32,700 of its $100,000 fundraising goal!

We know this has been a challenging year. Our retirees have proven time and time again that they are resilient, dedicated, and motivated to keep the momentum going for our vital legislative advocacy efforts and much-needed charitable endeavors.

Though our members have not been able to meet in person, they have shifted to virtual communications in record time and remained focused not only on helping TRTA and TRTF succeed, but on the well-being of their fellow retired educators. Our members have big hearts and open arms. They truly care about each other. We hope all of you are as proud as we are to have achieved so much this year despite the unusual circumstances.

As I sit back and read the third quarter issue of The VOICE that was published this month, I am impressed. How joyful it is to read about first-year educators—related to members of TRTA—who are pursuing their inaugural year of teaching with passion and determination! There is also a story about an educator who has introduced unique projects to his students four times with TRTF’s help.

Then there are our wonderful local units! They have been renewing members and encouraging new members to join—all without the aid of having in-person meetings. They keep on working so TRTA can reach 100,000 members. Several sent in anecdotes telling us how they are innovating their meetings this fall and hosting events via Zoom (see pages 10 and 11 of The VOICE).

TRTA also launched an app this year! Members can communicate with one another through the app, make new connections, participate in forums, and find all of the latest TRTA news there.

TRTF has started a major new program this year, too: the TRTF Tutor Program! With this one program, TRTF helps three groups of people: parents and students looking for affordable online tutoring services; retirees who want to earn supplemental income as online tutors; and public-school teachers and school districts that are seeking dependable tutoring help for their students.

If you had asked me at the beginning of 2020 how the year would proceed, I would not have guessed that our convention and local unit meetings would have been cancelled, that Zoom would become a part of our daily lives, or that our districts would be conducting fall conferences virtually. I would not have guessed that our schools would close in March, that virtual and hybrid education models would become prevalent for all schools in the nation, or that the TRTF Board and our amazing TRTA staff would work harder and faster than ever to respond to the needs of our public schools and Texas students with the best online tutoring program in the state!

We still face the unexpected as 2021 draws near: how will the Texas Legislature conduct its business? How will funding for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and health care plans be addressed? How will we meet with legislators to ensure that our voices are heard and that the retirement security of Texas public educators is prioritized?

No matter how the Legislature chooses to do its job in 2021, TRTA is ready to do ours by working with all Texas Senators and Representatives to protect your interests.

I believe that educators are the foundation for everything good that happens in our great state. Educators make things happen! I believe in our members, and because of you, I believe we will succeed against all odds and we will find innovative ways to accomplish our goals. Together, TRTA and TRTF will work towards improving the lives of all educators in any and every way that we can.

How the Foundation is Helping Others During the Pandemic

If you or a retiree you know is in need of financial assistance this holiday season, please email the Foundation’s “A Helping Hand” program at help@trtf.org. TRTF has assisted many retirees with home repairs, dental work, hearing aids, medical bills, space heaters and much more! Likewise, if you or a retiree you know could use some financial assistance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, please call 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Sarah or send an email to help@trtf.org to request an application.

If you know of a classroom teacher who is hoping to fund a great project for his or her students and is wondering where to find the money to accomplish this goal, have them apply for one of our forty available Classroom Assistance Grants. Download the application here.

If you have a family member or even a friend of the family who is about to graduate from college and plans to teach for the very first time in the fall of 2021, let them know about our Beginning Teacher Scholarship program. We may be able to assist them in paying for certification tests or supplies for their first classroom. TRTF has twenty-five scholarships to give. Download the application here.

If you are a retired teacher looking to supplement your income through the TRTF Tutor Program, please visit the Foundation website to learn more and sign up.

Please Donate Today

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, TRTF’s programs have become more important than ever. Our school children, teachers, and retirees need our help! As a 501(c)(3), we are in a unique position to raise donations and deploy them through our unique charitable programs. We are determined to help!

Please consider making your tax-deductible charitable contribution to TRTF today as part of our annual fundraising drive. You may donate online here or call 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Sarah.

The third quarter issue of The VOICE also featured several special articles about the Foundation, along with TRTF’s annual appeal letter and donation card. You can mail in your donation using the pre-paid envelope included with your issue.

There are more than 90,000 members of TRTA. If we all give a little, we could do a lot! Foundation Month is your opportunity to make a difference for a retiree who could use a little help to get by or recover from a disaster, for a classroom teacher who needs funds to create a unique learning opportunity for his or her students, or for a new teacher brimming with enthusiasm who needs help setting up their very first classroom.

Thank you for reading the Inside Line throughout the month of November as we updated you on TRTF’s programs and shared stories from individual program recipients. We hope you have enjoyed reading about the many educators the past, present, and future whose lives you have made better through your generosity.

Thank you as well for the opportunity you have given all of us to serve as your TRTA representatives. We are all deeply grateful to our members for everything that they do to support this great organization.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Tim Lee
TRTA Executive Director

Mary Nell Short
TRTF Board President

Read More
19 Nov
0

TRTA In-Person Meeting Cancellation Extended through March 31, 2021, Day at the Capitol to Be Held Virtually

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday, November 17 to extend the previously imposed hold on all TRTA-affiliated in-person meetings across the state through March 31, 2021. This includes all local unit meetings, as well as smaller in-person gatherings such as district or local unit executive committee meetings.

Additionally, the decision has been made to re-schedule TRTA’s hotel contract with the Austin Hilton from 2021 to 2023. This means the TRTA Day at the Capitol scheduled for April 7, 2021 will not be held in person and instead will be a virtual event. Please note, if your district or local unit has reserved transportation or hotel rooms for Day at the Capitol 2021, these should now be cancelled.

These decisions were made with the overarching concern of the health and safety of all members of TRTA. With the rising number of cases of coronavirus in Texas and vaccines still pending, the board decided the potential negative outcome of in-person meetings that may inadvertently result in a health crisis for any TRTA member is too great.

Many TRTA districts and local units have continued to meet virtually when possible with great success, some using Zoom videoconferencing services or conference calls. If your local unit would like to learn more about Zoom, please visit this newly created TRTA webpage or contact Roy Varney at roy@trta.org.

In addition to canceling all local and district in-person meetings through March 31, 2021, TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee and TRTA state officers will not be traveling for any in-person meetings. However, if you would like Tim Lee or a state officer to visit your local unit virtually this winter, please contact Shelby Click at shelby@trta.org.

TRTA knows not all units are able to meet virtually, and we encourage our members to remain safe and consider making phone calls, sending text messages, or emailing or mailing newsletters or holiday cards to their members to check in on them.

While you are staying home and staying safe, please consider calling up your retired friends and colleagues and asking them to join TRTA. We are still within reach of our goal of 100,000 members!

Are these difficult times? Yes. Are retirees up for the challenge? Absolutely! We must enter the next session prepared. We must prepare now by rallying the troops! This is the time when nearly 70 years of advocacy and perseverance really pays off.

Thank You and Keep Checking Your Email!

The TRTA Board of Directors thanks you for your continued support and your membership. The board and the staff are thinking of you and wishing you all well this holiday season. We know that Zoom and other virtual services cannot take the place of face-to-face contact, and hope that we can resume meetings again sooner rather than later.

TRTA will provide updates soon about our exciting plans for all members to participate in Day at the Capitol 2021 from home and in the always vital legislative process as we head into the 87th Legislative Session that begins in January. Watch for frequent email updates from Tim Lee and don’t forget to phone your friends and ask them to join TRTA today!

Read More
16 Nov
0

TRTF Assists Retirees Through “A Helping Hand”

Thank you members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) for joining us during Foundation Month: a time to honor the charitable work done by our partner organization, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF). Donate to TRTF today!

Today, we focus on two of TRTF’s most vital programs: “A Helping Hand” for Texas public school education retirees and TRS members experiencing critical emergencies, and the Disaster Relief Program for educators facing urgent needs as a result of a widespread disaster. With your support, TRTF continues to expand its programs to help more educators of the past, present, and future!

2020 has been a unique year, with new challenges and innovative responses to difficult circumstances. TRTF’s journey this year has been no different: we are trying new ways to meet the needs of the education community, including the launch of our newest endeavor, the TRTF Tutor Program.

While the Tutor Program will be beneficial to thousands of our Texas students and retired teacher tutors, not all retirees are able to participate in this service or will still need help to afford urgent necessities.

In the face of uncertainty, many retired educators still need help with utilities, groceries, medical bills, and prescriptions. As each person experiences the COVID-19 outbreak on a different scale, TRTF hears from retirees who need assistance with hospital bills. Some retirees who used to supplement their income through substitute teaching are simply not able to work right now.

Please consider making a special gift today to help retirees throughout the COVID-19 crisis by donating here.

We are working diligently to keep accepting applications for assistance. The staff is currently processing four applications for “A Helping Hand,” including those for retirees who have hospital bills due to COVID-19. Most “A Helping Hand” applicants need $1,000 or more in assistance just to get back on their feet.

In 2020, TRTF has helped 10 retirees with medical bills, five with utility bills, two with dental work, two with home repairs caused by flooding, as well as three retirees who needed either car repairs, plumbing repairs, or to replace broken appliances.

As a non-profit, TRTF depends on donation revenue to keep our programs functioning. We cannot continue this important work without your support. Your investment will make a difference. Even $5 goes a long way. Thank you for being a friend to the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation.

TRTF is currently accepting applications for assistance. We are asking all applicants to submit their requests and paperwork electronically. Please send all requests to help@trtf.org.

“A Helping Hand”

  • TRTF will provide at least $27,000 in grants to retirees in critical need through the “A Helping Hand” program in 2021.
  • In April 2020, TRTF raised over $54,000 to assist Texas public school personnel affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and distributed 26 grants in aid.
  • Aid provided- $204,800 (since 2010) to 199 recipients.

Disaster Relief:

  • TRTF will be prepared should another disaster strike and be ready to aid retired and active educators in need at a moment’s notice.
  • Total aid distributed since 2017: $162,609.94
  • Program recipients:
    • Active educators assisted: 209
    • Retired educators assisted: 292

Please Donate Today

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, TRTF’s programs have become more important than ever. Our school children, teachers, and retirees need our help! As a 501(c)(3), we are in a unique position to raise donations and deploy them through our unique charitable programs. We are determined to help!

Please consider making your tax-deductible charitable contribution to TRTF today as part of our annual fundraising drive. You may donate online here or call 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Sarah.

Please stay tuned to the Inside Line throughout the month of November as we update you on TRTF’s programs and share stories from individual program recipients.

Read More