For a number of Three Village Central School District retirees, serving the community didn’t stop when they left their former place of employment.
The Three Village Schools Retiree Association provides an opportunity for the district’s past employees to stay connected with former coworkers, and a way to help those in need in the community at the same time. This past holiday season the association continued its yearly tradition of donating to the school district’s adopt-a-family program, as the group raised $3,800.
Debbi Rakowsky, R.C. Murphy Junior High School social worker, said a growing number of families are in need in the Three Village district and most buildings averaged 15 families they collected for this past holiday season. All eight schools in the area coordinate collections at the end of every year and rely on staff donations. She said there was apprehension this holiday season that the gift cards donated by building staff wouldn’t cover the families needs, and the $3,800 from the retirees was distributed amongst all the school buildings and was a major help.
According to Judy McCready, president of the retiree association and member since 2004, one of the missions of the association is to help the community. In addition to donating to the schools’ adopt-a-family program every year, it also grants scholarships to a number of Ward Melville High School seniors in the spring.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize that the need for financial assistance is as great as it is in Three Village.”
— Judy McCready
The association combines fundraising with socializing. In the fall the retirees hold a welcome breakfast, a holiday lunch at the beginning of December and a happy hour to welcome new retirees at the end of the school year. McCready said at each event the group raises money for the holiday drive and scholarships and attendees are asked to bring a food item or toiletry that is donated to St. James R.C. Church in Setauket. She said members who no longer live in the area send checks for the causes, too.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize that the need for financial assistance is as great as it is in Three Village,” McCready said.
Betty Baran, corresponding secretary of the association and member since 2004, said the first retirees group in the Three Village area was founded in 1983 and called The Retirees Association of the Three Village Central School District. In the ’90s another association for only teachers formed called the Three Village Retired Teachers Association. In 2010, the two groups merged. Baran said the current group includes 511 retirees, and while 80 percent are former teachers, the rest of the membership is made up of administrators, custodial, secretarial and clerical staff.
Baran said the members enjoy giving back to the community that was good to them while they were working. Another goal of the association is to provide moral support for current teachers by getting involved in political issues with an educational slant.
“We do try to keep our members abreast politically as it applies to education, and different changes in things that are happening with active teachers,” Baran said. “We support them. We make phone calls to legislators. So, we have a political agenda to foster education in New York state. These are issues that we feel strongly about because we were involved in education.”
In the past, members of the association have reached out to local legislators about potential tax cuts, which would have severely impacted school districts and funding for public schools. The group also reaches out to the community to show its support for candidates running for school board and actively made calls opposing the Constitutional Convention before Election Day 2017.
Rakowsky said all the social workers in the district are appreciative of the retirees’ assistance, and it has been a pleasure working with the group.
“I am so proud to be part of this district for a million reasons and this just highlights how our teachers are committed to supporting the community even after they have retired,” the school social worker said. “I plan on retiring in June of 2019 after 31 years, and I look forward to being part of such an amazing legacy.”