In the last year, Deborah Caquias has visited Spain, Portugal and London.
And Theresa Ann Crivelli also recently returned from London.
What do all three women have in common? They are new UFT retirees. And on Nov. 20, the union said thanks to them and their recently retired colleagues at the annual New Retiree Luncheon.
“When you woke up last Thursday morning and heard the forecast, aren’t you glad you didn’t have to fight the snow?” Retiree Programs Director Gerri Herskowitz said to loud applause from the nearly 1,000 retirees and supporters who filled the grand ballroom at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan.
The event began with a sparkling apple cider toast by UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy and ended with everyone enjoying a sit-down meal while being entertained by the Brooklyn Si Beagle Center tap dancers.
Being able to participate in the Si Beagle retiree programs is one benefit of being a UFT retiree, but there are lots of others, as Crivelli, Caquias and Bui-Rothman can attest.
“The best part is that you can plan your own schedule,” said Crivelli, a former physical education and health teacher at Edward R. Murrow HS in Brooklyn.
Bui-Rothman also retired last summer and, besides looking at business opportunities, she has her sights set on pursuing a full-time acting career.
“I’m a Screen Actors Guild member,” she said. “But last month I was in Poland and Italy performing dance with the Isadora Duncan International Institute. And I’ll be going back to Venice to perform again soon.”
Of the three, Caquias has been retired the longest, having completed her 34 years as a math teacher last January at the Cultural Academy for the Arts and Sciences HS in Brooklyn. She wasted no time globetrotting.
“Still,” she said, “I miss teaching and I miss the kids. I love when I run into one of my old students. I just saw one at church yesterday with her baby!
“It’s nice not to have to get up at 4:30 in the morning anymore. Retirement is 10,000 percent worth it.”
Mulgrew reminded the new retirees about the value of their careers as educators.
“There is no way you get to retirement without helping thousands of children,” he said. “You changed the world.”
He asked them to remain active in the UFT.
“You can retire with what you have earned because you are a part of a group of people who fought constantly,” Mulgrew said. “We want you to stay involved. We understand how passionate and smart you are. You survived the New York City school system so I know you won’t back down without a fight.”
Murphy said members of the Retired Teachers Chapter had a critical role to play in the fights ahead.
“Michael Mulgrew calls us the daytime union because we remain committed to fighting for the causes important to us,” Murphy said. “For example, your pensions are guaranteed by the state constitution, but your health care is not, and keeping that health care depends on having a strong union.”