By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — The Wayland Retired Teachers Association has roots dug deep within the community for the last five decades.
The club was organized in July 1970 by beloved mentor and teacher Dr. Pearl Gardner. The early retirees of the time were the first to join up. They met in the home of Helen Owen in Livonia. She was the first president of the group and Esther Johnson was the first secretary. From there it grew into what it is today.
During the Covid 19 Pandemic there has been a lot of changes to the smaller communities. The Wayland Retired Teachers Association could no longer hold meetings. A decision was made that there would still be donations for the various community organizations in strong need.
Mary Lou Kiesl, treasurer of WRTA told this local reporter of the various donations given to the ones in most need this year.
The newest one being that all three food pantries were given cash donations of $2,220 each so far. The group always gives breakfast type foods to the pantry, but this year they decided the food pantry needed money for supplies. The Springwater, Wayland, and Cohocton food pantries each got a generous donation. This money has been collected by all the members of the group since April.
Kiesl said the nurses in the Wayland-Cohocton Central School got $100 each to use for clothes, mittens, hats, or whatever else is needed for the lower income students. It has always been known as The Mitten Fund. That has been around since the start of the group.
Kiesl mentioned in the last three years the E.J. Cottrell Memorial Library, Cohocton Public Library, and Wayland Public Library have gotten donations of $100 for their summer reading programs.
Kiesl added the Vincent House gets a donation of $100 from the group in the last five years as well.
Teresa Stephens, president of WRTA said the group found out the food pantries were in a strong need of supplies and in serious trouble during this pandemic. They were very pleased to be able to help them.
“We sent out an email to the group telling them that instead of having our sit down lunches and meetings we would give to the food pantries. In the past we have always given them breakfast type foods like cereal and peanut butter and jelly. We wanted the family to be able to provide a good healthy breakfast for the children,” she said.
Stephens said the group was impressed with all the online services the local libraries have provided and all the programs. The group was happy to help out with the summer reading programs.
“I am really impressed with how the libraries have handled everything. They are working very hard to keep everyone informed. We give them a lot of credit for doing so much online and the programs they have offered,” she said.
Stephens mentioned how fortunate she has been to be part of such a caring group of people.
“These women are very active in the community. We have great moments talking about what it was like when we all taught at the school,” she said. “I remember Dr. Pearl Gardner who started this group. She was a mentor to so many ladies.”
Every year the group choses a community service to be part of, and they chose to help out all of the food pantries. It is important the low income families get the help they need in these hard times.
For more information on how to get involved with The Wayland Teachers Association visit https://www.wccsk12.org/o/wccs/page/retired-teachers-association The group also gives to Retired Teachers Foundation Scholarship every year. They help out at the Wayland Elementary Book Fair every fall.