Huajilla Unit returns to Pearsall

Francine Gasch, Case Worker Supervisor for CASA, spoke at the Huajilla Unit meeting on Jan. 27.

After several years’ absence, the Huajilla Unit of Retired Teachers returned to Pearsall on January 27, 2020, for its monthly meeting. Forty-one members, including two guests, and one newcomer were welcomed to the First United Methodist Church. Jim Rigby called the meeting to order, welcomed members and guests, and thanked the local representatives who helped make the arrangements. Lewis Stroud offered the opening prayer followed by the pledges to the American and Texas flags.
Due to Secretary Brenda Prestage’s previous commitment, it was announced that the minutes of the October meeting had been previously approved by committee and have been archived. Sam Dubberly presented a detailed September through December Treasurer’s report which showed a healthy financial status for the unit. The report was accepted for filing.
Betsy Polgue, Public Relations chair reported on the cards and other correspondence she had sent out since the last meeting. Members provided information on those recently going through medical and other health issues, as well as celebratory observations; one was life member Anna Strait originally from Pearsall, now in North Texas who will celebrate her 100th birthday the first week in February.
Irene Dubberly reported each city/area’s membership numbers for a state total membership count of 220; the final state count at the end of February will determine the number of delegates for the state convention scheduled for April 6-8 in Corpus Christi. Related to the state convention, members were asked to consider attending the state convention in addition to Jim Rigby. Additionally, each member who brought in a new member is eligible for a $100 drawing at the convention.
Lola Hill reported that the Book Project consisting of Walter Huegele, Kathy Carskadden, Nora Winkler and Francis Bippert cleaned up, labeled, separated and boxed1,000 books which were distributed to four social service agencies at the December Holiday Social. Additionally, Hill requested that members submit their January through December Community Volunteer Service hours so these can be submitted to the state.
Although November is TRTA Foundation Month, Huajilla sets January and February for this drive. Funds collected will be donated to the Foundation at the TRTA state convention.
Jim Rigby requested that members consider running for office for Huajilla; elections are scheduled for the April meeting and asked for suggestions for changes or additions to next year’s meetings and activities. Rigby also recognized the callers and again reiterated the importance of two-way communication to assure that members receive timely notice of pertinent information.
Cindy Howard provided a quick informative warning about ever-present scams that result in the loss of millions of dollars by the public, especially by targeted retirees.
Ken Hanson, Legislative Chair reminded members to register to vote for the primaries, touched on the negative effects of the 13th check: Social Security considers that one-time check as an income increase and reduces benefits for up to a year, increasing costs for those with Part B. Hanson also provided a bleak update for the ongoing battle to eliminate the Windfall Elimination Profit and Government Pension Offset which denies rightfully earned Social Security benefits not only to those in public education, but to firemen, police and other service providers. This has been an uphill battle on Capitol Hill, but it seems that the proposal to provide these rightful earnings has failed again.
Following the meeting, a memorial candlelight service was held for those members, former schoolteachers and staff, and family members who passed away in the past year.
Jim Rigby introduced long-time administrator with Pearsall ISD, Francine Gasch, now Case Worker Supervisor for Court Appointed Special Advocate of South Texas (CASA) which serves Atascosa, Frio, Wilson, Karnes and La Salle Counties Gasch provided background information, reviewed the tasks required of CASA volunteers, giving examples of situations which volunteer advocated encounter dealing with abused, abandoned and neglected children. She encouraged members to considerthe opportunities to give of their time to serve in this capacity.
After adjournment, there were door prize drawings and members then enjoyed full barbecue and sides lunch catered by Cowpokes.
The next meeting will be on February 24 at Sammy’s Restaurant in Castroville beginning at 10 AM. Members are encouraged to show their Alma Mater pride and wear their school gear; they are also asked to bring a photo of them in their early public education career.