Retired teachers pile up overtime volunteer hours
CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS From left: Carbon County Commissioner Tom Gerhard; Carbon County chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees president Marjorie K. Balliet; community service chair Janet Hall; member Charles Uhler; public relations chair Josephine Strausser; Commissioners Chairman Wayne Nothstein and Commissioner William O'Gurek.
After putting in years in the classroom, doing their best to spark interest and a love of learning to sometimes recalcitrant children, a group of Carbon County teachers and other school employees could have spent their hard-earned retirement basking in sweet sloth.
Instead, they devote hours of work to local libraries, churches, environmental centers, civic organizations and hospitals for no pay save the good feeling of helping their communities.
Had the work been paid, it would have totaled $983,568 for the 46,047 hours of volunteer work performed in 2011 alone.
On Thursday, several members of the Carbon County chapter of Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees presented county commissioners with a "check" for that amount.
The members were chapter president Marjorie K. Balliet, president-elect/community service chair Janet Hall, member Charles Uhler, and public relations chair Josephine Strausser.
Commissioners Chairman Wayne Nothstein, William O'Gurek and Tom Gerhard were stunned at the amount of volunteer hours the retired school employees put in.
"Please thank all the members for us," Nothstein said.
"That's a tremendous amount of hours, and equates to a tremendous amount of money. I really want to compliment the four of you and everyone else who volunteers," O'Gurek said.
There are almost 300 members of PASR in Carbon County, Strausser said.
Balliet taught third grade at Shull David Elementary School in Lehighton for 34 before retiring in 1993.
Since then, she's devoted her time to volunteering at Dinkey Memorial Church, Ashfield. She works at the annual book sale and other fund raisers, maintains the church's membership rolls and serves as its financial secretary.
PASR members offer their time and talents "anywhere they need volunteers," she said.
Another member, Charles Uhler, who taught in the Northern Lehigh School District, volunteers at the Discovery Center, Allentown, with the Lehighton Band, and at his church.
PASR partnered with the Keystone Research Group to determine how many public school retirees are actively engaged in volunteer activities in their communities.
The hours were calculated from the Carbon Volunteer Survey, in addition to a telephone survey conducted in 2011 by Phyllis Seems, who is Past Region 2 Director and former Region 2 Community Service Chairperson.
The research revealed that statewide, 63 percent of PASR members volunteer. Each volunteer contributes, on average, 308.4 hours a year, bringing the state total to 6,600,876 hours.