South Bruce Retired Women Teachers of Ontario – Caring and Sharing Together But Apart

– by Christine Roberts

Although unable to hold regular meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic, members of the South Bruce branch of the Retired Women Teachers of Ontario/Organization des Enseignantes Retraitées de l’Ontario (RWTO/OERO) continue to demonstrate their caring for each other and their communities through the sharing of time, talents and resources.

In an effort to maintain connections, combat feelings of isolation while also conducting branch business, the executive instituted a monthly newsletter which includes a message from the president, new business and sharing of personal news, stories and photos. The missive is sent electronically to most and mailed to those without internet access. In addition, extra recognition has been made of members suffering illness or celebrating milestone birthdays. The outreach, particularly the sharing of personal news and updates, has been well received.

Teachers are caring people. Seeing the negative effects of the public health crisis and lockdown on the lives of families, the branch felt it was important to support charitable organizations working with vulnerable people, particularly children, in local communities.

Donations of $500 were made to each of The Women’s House, the Grey-Bruce United Way Backpack program and split between the Kincardine and Saugeen Shores food banks over the course of the spring and summer.

In late August, the executive met to discuss current issues and future initiatives and welcomed Lynda Cerson to the position of First Vice-President. Discussion included a move to virtual meetings with plans for Cheryl Cottrill of the Huron Shores Hospice to address the branch in November.

Recognizing the challenge of maintaining connections and membership during social restrictions, the provincial leadership recently made the decision to provide a grant to branches to encourage them to embrace technology. The South Bruce branch is considering a Zoom subscription to facilitate virtual meetings and activities.

The one and only in-person gathering of 2020 took place Tuesday, September 29th. Pat Emmerton hosted a BYOE (Bring Your Own EVERYTHING) lunch on her spacious property. Sixteen ladies supplied their own chairs, lunches and drinks and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to catch up with friends and former colleagues.

The South Bruce RWTO welcomes retired women teachers in Saugeen Shores, Kincardine, Walkerton, Ripley, Lucknow and parts in between. Newly retired or new to the area retirees are encouraged to contact President Pat Emmerton at (519)395-1120 or to learn more about the group and the advantages of becoming a member.