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Sometimes the best inspiration comes from within. At each of their meetings, the St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association (STRSEA) includes a community service project as part of their agenda. STRSEA meets five times a year. These projects increase member engagement and benefit the community.

The community service project changes often. STRSEA picks a group at each meeting to make donations to. “We try to pick groups that are doing good things in the community and find a way to help them out,” says STRSEA Unit President Eric Sacks.

Previous community service projects include the Northshore Food Bank, Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – St. Tammany.

The Northshore Food Bank is unique in that it serves both St. Tammany and Washington Parishes. STRSEA collected donations for the Northshore Food Bank at a meeting, which sparked the group’s interest in volunteering on a more regular basis. “It started with the Food Bank, and that’s when we really got into the volunteerism.”

Photo Credit: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – St. Tammany Facebook page.

Other projects include Operation Christmas Child, an initiative with Samaritan’s Purse that aims to serve children in need around the world, and NAMI St. Tammany. NAMI St. Tammany established a snack center in the new Crisis Receiving Center, which serves the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Crisis Intervention Team. They understood that deputies often do not have time to stop and eat while on duty. STRSEA collected donations to help fill the snack center. “We got them snacks that they can get out of the snack cabinet when they need it or on the go,” says Eric.

Coming up with a new service project for each meeting can seem like a daunting task. This is why STRSEA turns to their membership for inspiration. Operation Christmas Child and Safe Haven Campus were both personal projects of STRSEA members. “Sometimes you can get your fellow retirees involved to help you find areas where you can impact.”

Giving back to the community can be very rewarding, and the feeling is exemplified when it is a project that hits close to home. Volunteerism helps to solve a community issue, but it can also serve as a way to keep members engaged. Eric especially instills this ideal in new STRSEA members and recent retirees. “As retirees, it’s important to stay involved and become advocates.”

For more information about St. Tammany RSEA, contact Unit President Eric Sacks at (985) 710-2800.

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