Branch Spotlight: Heartland Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association
ARTA’s youngest branch will be reaching a special milestone next month: The Heartland Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (HARTA) is celebrating its tenth anniversary on September 4, 2022. Despite being the youngest branch, HARTA has put the last ten years to good use, creating not just a branch, but a community of retirees that come together to socialize, make connections, and to embrace a shared love of learning.
With a branch so young, many members have been around since the start, and that includes Ron Thompson, HARTA’s founding president. In fact, it’s a role he still holds today. “When we were starting up, we wanted to provide a chance for retirees in our area to meet and mingle,” says Ron. “HARTA represents a big area: Drayton Valley, Leduc, Wetaskiwin, and the surrounding counties. We even have members who taught in the area and retired elsewhere, but wish to maintain a sense of community with their former colleagues. The branch gives us an opportunity and a reason to connect despite those distances.”
Ron and his fellow HARTA founders spent a few years gauging interest, reaching out to local retirees to sign on, and setting up the branch’s organizational structure. But all their hard work eventually paid off, when HARTA became an official branch on September 4, 2012.
In the years since, HARTA has grown in membership, but also in scope. In addition to coffee meetups, general meetings, and luncheons, the branch has made it a point to invite speakers to give regular presentations to members. These local experts speak about a variety of topics that are of interest for retirees, including things like nutrition, technology, seniors’ advocacy, Indigenous ways of learning, and of course, ARTA itself.
Many of these speakers are HARTA members themselves, who have specialized knowledge and a passion to share it with a group of interested listeners. “At one time, I found out about one member who was interested in Laughing Yoga,” says Ron. “I got to know her, and eventually got her to give us a presentation on the topic. Everyone has at least one area of expertise that the whole group could benefit from learning about. We have access to so many resources through our members and other local experts, it’s important we make use of them to learn something new in retirement.”
Ten years later, HARTA continues to grow. Members come from all backgrounds, not just education. In fact, many HARTA members don’t belong to ARTA at all. “We welcome any retirees who believe in the goals of the branch,” says Ron. “We believe strongly in having a partnership with all the seniors in our communities.”
If you live in the Heartland area and are interested in attending the HARTA annual general meeting and anniversary celebration this September, or if you just want to learn more about the branch, visit the branch website at https://artabranches.net/harta/ for more information.