‘Never lose your sense of worth’; St. John Parish Retired Teachers’ Association hosts membership banquet

Published 9:53 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2023

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EDGARD — Twenty-five years have passed since Ann Harvey retired from education, but her work ethic and search for knowledge did not end there. She remains actively involved in Retired Teachers’ Associations at both the local and state level, and she encourages her fellow retirees to never lose their sense of worth.

Harvey served as the guest speaker during the annual St. John Parish Retired Teachers’ Association Membership Banquet July 22 at West St. John High School in Edgard. In addition to working in education for more than two decades, Harvey built a career as a licensed insurance agent and realtor. She opened Ann Harvey and Associates in 1988 and is actively involved in the River Region community as a member of Sigma Phi Beta Sorority, the River Region Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Realtors, the New Orleans Board of Realtors, the Louisiana Retired Teachers’ Association, and past president of the Belle Terre Civic Association.

“It is often said that when you retire, you die. I, as well as many others in this large room prove that this is not necessarily true. I think you can pinch any of those retirees and they will say ‘ouch.’ They are alive and well, and we are still kicking,” Harvey said.

Harvey emphasized the importance of enjoying life to the fullest while also planning for the future. As she’s gotten older, she’s learned it’s vital to set a reasonable budget, make a will, and give one person you trust access to your bank account.

She also relayed the importance of banding together, especially when it comes to protecting and enhancing retirement and insurance benefits as the cost of living increases.

“We as educators are so involved with being the goodie two shoes, making sure everyone is taken care of, that we forget to tell them we need money, too. We need to eat, too,” Harvey said. “That is no one’s fault but our own…You need to join the St. John Association of Retired Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Retired Teachers. Let’s press forward and let them know we have self-worth, too. Yes, we enjoy our students. Yes, we are proud when they graduate. We need our self-worth to be made known, and we also need to make sure that we show up and we show out because there is strength in numbers.”

Harvey told the retirees not to be afraid to start a second career, no matter their age. She also encouraged volunteer work as a way of remaining active.

“Volunteer at schools. They still need you. Volunteer in hospitals or anywhere else you think you might enjoy,” she said. “If you don’t like it, there’s nothing holding you there. Try something else until you find your niche.”

The annual Membership Banquet was the vision of the late Herbert Smith, a dedicated member of the St. John Parish Retired Teachers’ Association who saw a need for a free,community event that would ensure the organization continues to grow and thrive. Smith sought sponsors to pay for a free dinner for teachers to grow the group’s membership and solicited the assistance of Patrick Sanders to bring his dream to fruition. Unfortunately, Smith passed before it became a reality. The dream lived on through Sanders, and the inaugural membership banquet was observed on July 27, 2018.

Sanders and his wife, Jennifer, became honorary members of the St. John Retired Teachers’ Association in recognition of the effort they put forth to secure funds for the first dinner. Each year, the dinner continues to honor Smith’s memory.

“Our journey began in 2016-17 with only a handful of members. Each year, our membership drive banquet increased our enrollment,” SJRTA President Dolores Sorapuru said. “As of today, we have 54 active members and counting. We look forward to doing great things to foster unity within our schools and community. With the help of all of our members, we will succeed.”

Special thanks were given to the 2023 sponsors, the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board, Jo and Joy Banner of the Descendants Project, Courtney Baloney from Treasures of Life, Donna Rollo DiCarlo from Riverlands Insurance, and Michael Rollo from Rollo Security. Thanks were also extended to Jennifer and Patrick Sanders, who provided placemats for the dinner, to the chefs, guest speakers, to the decorating committee, and to West St. John High School Principal Rayven Calloway for providing a venue for this year’s event.

The banquet also included musical selections from Ariel Pierre and Joan Landix, a half and half raffle, and numerous door prizes. To join the SJRTA, call 985-703-2474.