By Jo Fredell Higgins –
Question: What has 400 members now and began in 1958-1959 with 42 retired educators?
Answer: The Aurora Area Retired Teachers’ Association (AARTA).
This year marks its 60th anniversary and the organization’s Golden Jubilee event! The celebration will be October 2 for lunch at Gaslite Manor, 2485 Church Road, 630-851-2300. The cost is $17.
Meetings originally were held at the Aurora YWCA or the Aurora YMCA with potluck lunches. Leftovers were sold to boost the treasury. Dues were 50¢ a year. Members were cognizant of legislative and educational issues.
Members have been active at the regional and the State levels of the Illinois Retired Teachers’ Association. They have become a Fox Valley mayor, such as Jay Hunter who defeated mayor Egan in Egan’s reelection bid in Aurora, published textbooks, and been chairs of civic, educational, and charitable, organizations.
Maureen Granger, for example, retired from West Aurora School District 129 after 29 years. She has been a Board member for the past 14 years and was president for the term of 2010-2012. Each AARTA office is held for a two-year term.
Some past initiatives have included sponsorship of a $1,500 community college scholarship, a member newsletter produced by Barb Zillgitt, and a Warm Fuzzy activity. The Warm Fuzzy effort donates lap blankets to Aurora area senior centers. School supplies have been donated to Aurora area schools, including the recent donation to Jefferson Middle School in Aurora. Communities in Schools has received 106 items, including gloves, hats, scarves, and mittens for their program participants. A $250 check to the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry was given to Marilyn Weisner, executive director, and to Board member John McKee.
Camaraderie and shared mutual interests motivate the retired members to come together five times a year for lunch. They attend Aurora area plays and concerts and sporting events. Membership is open to all teacher retirees from both the public and parochial schools. Members must live in the Fox Valley area, regardless of their retirement location.
If you would like more information on how to become a member, or how to apply for the scholarship, contact them. Their website is www.auroraarearetiredteachersassociation.org.