As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to imagine a time when virtual and Zoom meetings were not a part of everyday lives. Of course, at the beginning of the pandemic, it was also hard to imagine using Zoom to begin with. The Calcasieu Parish Unit of Retired Teachers (CPURT) learned to embrace Zoom meetings and designed their monthly programs so that they could be done virtually.
Prior to the pandemic, CPURT remained heavily involved in the community. “Our group chose a care facility to provide personal items at Christmas time,” says CPURT President Anna Green (2020-2022). “We inquired of the administrators what the residents needed. We provided warm caps, gloves, scarves, socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorants, lotions, etc.” CPURT chose this project because many of the residents of the care facility do not have family nearby. CPURT was involved in community events, such as the Martin Luther King Day Breakfast Program.
For a local Unit that was used to so much community interaction, being isolated from one another was especially difficult during the pandemic. CPURT officers decided to take brave step into the virtual world in order to maintain contact with their members and keep the Unit thriving.
CPURT held teleconference meetings for some time and eventually transitioned to Zoom meetings where members could see and hear each other. CPURT also wanted to make sure their members were staying involved and engaged during meetings. CPURT program chair Laura Richardson transitioned the meeting programs so that members could still participate virtually. In January, CPURT guest speaker Rose Duhon led a chair exercise class. For February, Laura tested members on their Black History knowledge with a quiz. She composed the quiz on a Word Document and shared her screen with members so they could record their answers separately.
Every meeting brought a new or returning Unit member. “Our membership chairperson sends letters inviting recently retired teachers to join,” Anna explains. “Each member of our unit is encouraged to utilize personal contact to invite new members. Everyone has an opportunity to share in recruiting.”
Members’ birthdays are recognized at each Unit meeting during “Cheerio,” and members receive a birthday card from CPURT.
Beyond their regularly scheduled Unit meetings, CPURT members also lend a supporting hand to one another. They help those who need assistance with transportation, running errands or writing letters to their legislators. CPURT has a strong bond with their membership that has sustained Unit both virtually and in person.
For more information about CPURT, contact Ms. Anna Green at (337) 274-8879 or Mrs. Jassaland Demease at (337) 302-2053.
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