Central Western Zone History
The Central Western Zone had its inception at a tea held at the Mt. Hor Church Community House on Monroe Avenue on October 22, 1948. At that time eleven counties constituted the zone. At a later time in our history, Genesee County chose to join the Western Zone, however, it was left to the individual to decide which zone to join. A year later the Central Western Zone had its first president, Nathaniel G. West, who, on November 1, 1949 met with zone leaders from the Western and Eastern Zones in Rochester to express a great desire and need to form an entire New York State Retired Teachers Association. NYSTRA. In November 1951 representatives from the six established zones met in Rochester, NY and elected Robert De Cormier as the first president of the newly recognized NYSRTA.
As early as the 1920’s, there was a sincere concern for the welfare of retired teachers in much of New York State. There was no state retirement system until 1921. Some city pension systems provided a bare existence pension of about $400.00 a year.
It was after 1946 that America was just beginning to recover from World War II. Every one was ready to take a deep breath and hope for a fresh start. This included the active teachers and also the ones who had retired from the classroom. Following the war, men discharged from the armed forces used the GI Bill of Rights to enter college and pursue studies in education. With the addition of the male gender to the virtually dominated female profession, it created a stronger need for unity, hopefully to gain
The “war babies” began entering classrooms in large numbers. They created a need for larger schools and centralization. School systems had further strains for higher wages during an inflationary period. The needs for the active teacher were slowly being rewarded, but retired teachers needed to provide better pensions, more stability for their retired lives with insurance benefits, health care, socialization and above all, a cost of living adjustment. Social Security benefits had not been offered to educators until the early 1960’s. The need to“take care of our own” became eminent. Lobbying the state legislature was the only way to provide for state retirement benefits. Only a state organization could exercise the power needed to protect the well being of the retired educator.
The services of the Central Western Zone offer informational updates to its members concerning state legislation and federal legislation. In addition, the executive staff, as with other officers, volunteers long hours and works to get benefits for its membership. An annual newsletter informs and summarizes new information to the membership. Our friendly service committee aids in assisting the members giving good financial and other advice. Furthermore, our health care coordinator offers support to members who are in need of tips, advice and wellness. In most cases, the units themselves provide newsletters at different times throughout the year. Likewise, the county units also satisfy the need for retirees to socialize and reconnect with former colleagues. This connectiveness maintains the spirit that no member should be forgotten.
Without our membership committee, we are “dead in the water.” Membership monies submitted annually or with a lifetime membership allows us to complete our mission. Help us to help you. Please join today.