Ann Marie Downey,President
MRSPA - Connecting, Protecting, Making a Difference
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
- William Arthur Ward, American writer
As a semi-collector of quotes, I came across the above quotation a few weeks ago and decided to display it rather than to tuck it away in my “Interesting Sayings” folder. Why did William Arthur Ward’s words get prime real estate on the bulletin board? I believe that part of the reason is that in the 75 years since MRSPA’s predecessor was established, this philosophy has been in play, allowing the organization to make changes that the times required to ensure our existence and relevance.
There are always circumstances that cause dissatisfaction. In 1945 for example, school employees had no guaranteed retirement funds from the state, truly something worthy of complaint! If forward-looking educators had accepted that status quo and just grumbled about the situation, nothing would have
changed. Likewise, had they waited until those in power decided that the state should provide a secure retirement for its school employees, we might still be without our defined benefit pension. However, those original 23 visionaries moved beyond vision to action, and worked to grow an organization that has served retired school personnel for 75 years.
In 75 years, “sails were adjusted” to meet large- and small scale issues, but let’s look at where we are in 2019-2020. We are very fortunate to have a secure defined benefit retirement plan, but we know that we can’t be complacent about it. We also know that strong membership numbers help MRSPA’s voice be heard.
At both the local and state levels, our current “wind” remains membership growth. I am so pleased
that instead of complaining about the situation (pure pessimism) or sitting by and waiting for retirees to
wake up and see the need to join our locals an MRSPA (pure optimism), much realistic “adjustment of
sails” is going on! We continue to explore how to offer more value to your MRSPA membership. As I travel
around the state and talk with members, I know that the “action items” of last year’s membership action
plans are being implemented, and by concentrating on becoming more visible and known by active school
employees and the community we are “adjusting our sails” at the local and state levels.
I am not a sailor, but I do know that it is essential to “stay the course” toward the destination, or in MRSPA’s case, our mission and goals. However, in order to reach that destination, we must adapt
constantly to “wind conditions”. Let’s say that I’m a realistic optimist that MRSPA will successfully
continue to “sail on” for the school personnel we serve!
Ann Marie Downey