Retired personnel always ready to help

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April 16, 2013 - 12:00 AM

The Allen County Area Retired Personnel members might seem like they have a lot on their plates — and they do — but for them, it is simply a way of life.
The group, originally for retired teachers only, is made up of roughly 78 Allen Countians who never stopped caring for not only their students but their community.
Among the 78 members are former drama and English teacher Donna Houser, her husband and former teacher and coach, Ray Houser, former teacher and administrator, Diana Asher, former Le Roy elementary teacher Saundra Upshaw, former Humboldt elementary teacher Ellie Walburn and her husband and former teacher and coach, Don Walburn. 
The group is made up of not only teachers, coaches and administrators but also former custodians, superintendents and food service employees.
Group members logged 15,952.25 volunteer hours in the past year, which is divided into two classifications — youth and adult. Youth volunteerism can be judging plays, greeting middle school students on the first day of school, cleaning classrooms or giving a group of about 160 middle school students a tour of the five historical buildings in town.
Adult volunteerism can be reading or singing at the nursing homes, volunteering at a church, participating in Relay for Life or driving the elderly to a doctor’s office.
“We never learned to say no,” said Donna.
Group members said they recorded so many hours because each member volunteers time independently which contributes to an overall group time.
“If the state paid us for what we did, they couldn’t afford us,” Ellie said.
Each year at Christmas time the group fundraises for a variety of projects and organizations, such as Hope Unlimited, buying instruments and books for students, the food pantry and to give scholarships.
The money isn’t raised from the community but from their own pockets.
They pay membership dues each year and also donate additional money, if they can.
“We just take it out of our pocket,” Donna said.
“It’s the easiest way,” Ellie added.
One of the main reasons group members join is for the social aspect.
“They are people we have things in common with,” Donna said
Though they are focused on improving the community, they also like to recognize each other. They have memorial ceremonies for people who have been in the group a number of years, they meet most months out of the year and they send sympathy cards to people who are in the hospital or going through a tough time.
When a group member dies they donate $25 to the church of the descendant’s choice.
“As a group we can make things happen,” Diana said.
Each year they try to recruit more retired personnel by staying up to date on the people who are retiring.
“Many times people ask ‘is it worth my time,’” Don said. “Come and find out if it is worth your time.”

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