Retired Educators Recognized for Giving a Voice to Abused and Neglected Children and for Restoring the Nameless Creek Youth Camp

With Our Youth Logo

Washington, D.C. – Retired educators in Indiana have won two national awards for outstanding community service projects with youth.  NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community has named the Indiana Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) the winner of the 2013 With Our Youth! Excellence Award in the state category for its outstanding work to advocate on behalf of children who have become wards of the state. Jerry D. Bell of Greenfield has won the 2013 With Our Youth! Excellence Award in the individual category for his leadership to mobilize the community to restore the Nameless Creek Youth Camp.

“We are honored to provide 2013 NRTA With our Youth! Excellence Awards to the Indiana Retired Teachers Association and Jerry D. Bell,” said Dara Dann, Vice President of NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community. “These retired educators are making a real impact across the generations in the lives of Indiana residents. Even in retirement, they have an endless drive and commitment to give back to their community,” Dann continued.

IRTA was selected for the 2013 State Excellence Award because it provides a shining example of retired teachers working on a volunteer basis to address the needs of youth and the broader community.  Since 2008, IRTA has worked in partnership with the Indiana Supreme Court’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program to leverage the talents and compassion of retired teachers to help powerless children ensure their best interests are represented before judicial officers. Some 226 retired educators in Indiana are CASA volunteers.  There has been a 78 percent increase in the number of educators since the IRTA-CASA partnership began.

To become a CASA, Indiana retired teachers participate in thirty hours of training.  Once the training is complete, the CASA is sworn in as an officer of the court and assigned a child needing of services.  Most cases require that the CASA spend six to ten hours per month advocating on behalf of the child.  As CASA volunteers, retired teachers watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, and ensure they are not lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. These volunteers typically stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.  CASA serves 78 Indiana counties, providing nearly 3500 volunteers who serve more than 16,000 abused and neglected children.

Jerry Bell, winner of the 2013 Individual Excellence Award, is a retired music teacher.  He was motivated to prevent the sale of the campground that had served families since 1951.  Starting with a small group of volunteers in 2006, Jerry began working to restore bunkhouses, the kitchen, bathrooms, trails and campsites.  He strategically collaborated with a local high school and the Hancock Water and Soil Conservation Group on various aspects of the project.

As the local community became aware of the efforts, various group stepped up to provide assistance. Eagle Scouts painted, spread gravel, and built a playground to earn their badges. Local merchants donated materials, equipment, and labor, while multiple organizations provided financial support and contributed to a successful capital campaign.  Jerry even tapped into national AmeriCorps volunteers to leverage their time to build picnic tables and create sports areas. Today, the camp is fully functional and self-sustaining.  The renovated campsite hosted more than 160 events and nearly 4,000 visitors in 2012.  It represents a true grassroots community effort that will benefit youth and families for generations to come.

About the With Our Youth! Program

NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community is committed to learning, voluntary service and civic participation.  More than a decade ago, the organization formed the With Our Youth! program to provide volunteer opportunities for community service projects with youth.  For the first three years of the program, NRTA pledged to serve 1.5 million youth in 2,000 communities with a total of 45 million service hours through its affiliated state retired educators associations.  The initial goal was exceeded, and the program continues today.  In 2013, there were seven Excellence Awards selected in three categories (1 state, 3 local and 3 individual).  More information about the program is available here.

About NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community

NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community is America’s foremost network of 50+ adults and organizations with a passion and affinity for education and learning. Members of NRTA are dedicated to continuous educational opportunity, advocacy, and service as a means of safeguarding the economic security, work opportunities, and future well-being of all generations.  Founded in 1947 by retired educator Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, NRTA has a membership of more than one million active and retired higher-ed and K-12 educators and school personnel at the local, state and national level. The NRTA network includes a national office in Washington, D.C. along with 52 state and city associations, and more than 2,700 local associations. More information is available here or by visiting www.aarp.org/nrta.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security and retirement planning. We advocate for consumers in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a bilingual news source.  AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.