What is RTAM? Or more importantly, who is RTAM? RTAM is the Retired Teachers Association of Manitoba, 10,000 members spread throughout the province in 18 chapters and even 3 chapters outside the province, one in Alberta and two in B.C. The answer to the second question is harder to answer. In the shadows of the retirement community you will find many retired teachers who belong to RTAM who volunteer time, expertise, often money, watches and toiletries to the world in need. I know of at least one member who is only a voice; a distinctive voice that is heard at least once a week on the nostalgic radio station CJNU. He interviews people. He plays music selections from the past that are favorites of his past; memories and favorites of his audience. His gift is time and passion. That voice volunteers and is still teaching others. I know of a woman who brings cheer to older people who are more or less shut-ins. She organizes a group of like-minded retired teachers who visit many of our member, often older teachers who are socially isolated with mobility issues or afflictions that don’t allow them access to the outside world. These volunteers keep their retiree colleagues in touch with others from the past. I also know a woman who suggests the simple collection of toiletry articles for less fortunate people living in shelters who can’t afford these amenities of living will be grateful to have them provided. Another collects reading glasses no longer useful to the owner and ships them to third world countries where they provide much needed sight to others. In five years of collecting, she has shipped over 1000 pairs of glasses to places in need. Then there are those who spend time in schools reading to children and many others who provide supportive tasks to assist the school. There are many other retired teachers who extend that help to the communities in which they live. One such teacher I met in a small community close to Winnipeg. He holds an annual dinner for the town and the surrounding communities in honour of his mother who died with dementia. From those dinners he has donated thousands of dollars to the Alzheimer Society each year for the past six years. The amount grows significantly each year as others learn of his passion. The WREA (Westman Retired Educators Association) chapter from the Brandon area, in honour of the 150th birthday of Manitoba, collected over $3000 this past spring and summer from chapter members to provide needed help during this unprecedented time to local area not for profit organizations.
All of this is to recognize the importance that retired teachers place on volunteerism and the security it provides others. Simple acts of kindness and giving that help and support others in need. Covid-19 has had a profound impact on everyone’s life and sense of security. Money or income security has changed over the past eight months. As I have mentioned above there are many ways RTAM retirees “spend” their money and their time helping the world in simple, giving ways. In a word they volunteer.
The pandemic has provided many of us with “time on our hands.” Spend some of your extra time calling an older person in your life that needs a connection with a friend. Skype or ZOOM a young child you know and tell them a story or read a book that you like to them. The libraries are open. Find ways to connect with others of all ages. It will be more than “money in the bank,” it will be a commodity money can’t buy. An “Act of Kindness” is a gift that gives to the giver as well as the receiver.
Go to “Lifestyles 55” on your computer, find this page, click on the above RTAM logo and have a look at the RTAM world.
Retired Teachers’ Association of Manitoba (RTAM) is located at 206 – 1555 St. James St., Winnipeg. Call 1-204-889-3660, email [email protected] or go online to www.rtam.mb.ca.