In these unsettling times, the Retired Teachers Chapter is making every effort to reach out to reassure and support its members. That means using all available avenues to keep in touch with the 70,000 UFT retirees across the country. Facebook is becoming an important part of their outreach.
The chapter in 2019 organized a Facebook group for New York retirees called UFT Retired Teachers Chapter, which has 235 local retirees as members.
Staten Island retiree Susan Pulice, who serves as the group’s administrator, said she wanted to share all the benefits of retirement with UFT retirees in the New York metropolitan area. She envisioned the Facebook group as both an information hub as well as a place to post inspirational messages, photos, travel tips, book reviews and anything “that makes our retiree life better,” she said.
At the UFT’s Teacher Union Day in 2018, Pulice won the Public School Proud Award for her Twitter postings on all the wonderful things happening in public schools. “I had all that positive experience in my back pocket when I retired that year,” she said.
The page’s purpose and tone have shifted since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Now UFT retirees are reading and posting vital information about how to stay safe and healthy. In response to the growing anxiety of the times, the group shared a post with instructions for breathing exercises.
Fellow Staten Island retiree Lori Jones, who is a member of the Facebook group, says she “absolutely enjoys the chat page and appreciates the helpful and relevant information.”
The UFT Retired Teachers Chapter – Tampa Bay & West Coast Sections group, created in 2017, is also going strong with 225 members. Run by former UFT Bronx High Schools Representative Lynne Winderbaum, the group has recently been posting news about the Florida governor’s slow response to the coronavirus crisis and health benefits information for the state’s retirees.
When Patti Vitucci moved to Florida after retiring in 2017, the former chapter leader at PS 1 in Tottenville expanded another Facebook group for Florida retirees — UFT/RTC Florida Sections — to include more than just UFT information. The group now has 166 members.
“I’m a Facebook person,” Vitucci said, “so I want to use it as a tool for retirees here to stay connected and to share.”
To join fellow UFT retirees in these three Facebook groups, search for the group name in the Facebook search engine. In each case, you must submit a request to join the group. Only UFT retirees may join.