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Sewing Solidarity

From left, NEA-Retired President-elect Tom Curran, retired Washington teacher Sharon White and retired Michigan teacher Al Beamish show off the quilt that will be auctioned to raise money for the NEA Fund.

NEA-Retired Tells History, Supports Advocacy Through Quilt Raffle

July 01, 2011
By Kevin Hart

It’s been said that a quilt is a piece of history, stitched together one square at a time. And once again this year, retired educators are telling the history of the National Education Association through a beautiful quilt that will be won by a lucky delegate.

In Booth #826 in the RA exhibit hall, NEA-Retired is raffling a handmade quilt to raise funds for the NEA Fund for Children & Public Education, NEA’s political action committee. Delegates will receive entry cards in their PAC envelopes – although no donation is required to enter, a contribution of at least $5 is recommended.

The quilt is made from T-shirts from past NEA Representative Assemblies, and serves as a patchwork history of the Association. T-shirts celebrating the Kentucky Education Association Student Program; the 2010 Outreach to Teach at Belle Chasse High School in Louisiana; the career of retired NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin, and more adorn the colorful quilt. 

And what you can’t learn about NEA history from the quilt, you certainly can learn by talking to the retired members staffing the booth.

One of the NEA-Retired members volunteering for booth duty at this year’s RA is Al Beamish, who taught French for 32 years in Michigan and is attending his 42nd consecutive RA.

“You always remember the first one,” Beamish said. For him, that first RA was in 1970 in San Francisco. 

Fellow volunteer Sharon White has had a career as colorful as the quilt she is helping to promote. She taught 36 years in Washington, ending her career teaching reading to incarcerated young men between the ages of 15 and 21.

“It was fascinating, especially since I started out teaching kindergarten,” she said.

Delegates can begin dropping off their entry forms for the quilt raffle tomorrow, and the drawing will be held July 5. NEA-Retired is also selling various promotional items in its booth to help raise money for the NEA Fund. So far this year, NEA-Retired has raised more than $25,000 for the NEA Fund.

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