Old­est NARFE chap­ter in Md. cel­e­brates 65 years

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter:@Tif­fIndyNews

On Feb. 2, Charles County res­i­dents and dig­ni­taries gath­ered to cel­e­brate the 65th an­niver­sary of NARFE Chap­ter 126 Western Charles/In­dian Head. Ap­prox­i­mately 50 NARFE mem­bers gath­ered at St. James Epis­co­pal Church in In­dian Head for a three-hour tour through the his­tory of the chap­ter, en­ter­tain­ment, a catered buf­fet by the Rev. Jac­ques T. Banks and guest speak­ers.

Ed Rice, co-pres­i­dent of the NARFE Chap­ter 126 Western Charles/In­dian Head, has been chap­ter pres­i­dent for more than 10 years. Rice said he was ex­tremely hon­ored to have the na­tional pres­i­dent and county com­mis­sion­ers present the or­ga­ni­za­tion with cer­tifi­cates rec­og­niz­ing their ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

“Or­ga­ni­za­tions like this are what re­ally en­rich Charles County be­cause they en­rich so many things in the com­mu­nity so for that we’re re­ally grate­ful,” said Peter Mur- phy (D), Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion- ers’ pres­i­dent. “I’m re­ally proud to say that in the State of Mary­land we have the old­est ac­tive NARFE chap­ter. This is a very ac­tive group and we’re so glad they’re here on the western side of the county. They have a lot to be proud of — hav­ing kept the chap­ter go­ing for that many years. The kinds of things that they sup­port are in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant to us as a coun- ty and con­tri­bu­tions they have made to the county [are] greatly ap­pre­ci­ated through­out the years.”

The ci­ta­tion from the board of com­mis­sion­ers read, “This Charles county or­ga­ni­za­tion is the old- est ac­tive NARFE chap­ter in the State of Mary­land of­fer­ing friend­ship, com- mu­nity, in­for­ma­tion and sup­port to re­tired fed­eral em­ploy­ees.”

“To do any­thing for 65 years these days is pretty awe­some,” said Com­mis- sioner De­bra M. Davis (D). “Their ad­vo­cacy is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence across the coun­try ... I would hate to have to go against any of them as a group.”

NARFE mem­ber Jea- nette Green of Wal­dorf was happy that the 65th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion turned out so well.

“We worked on the plan­ning for about six months, each per­son in­volved had a func­tion to carry out and did so will­ingly. The food was de­li­cious, and the cake was ab­so­lutely gor­geous, be­sides tast­ing so good,” Green said.

Ron Bush, co-pres­i­dent of the NARFE Chap­ter 126 Western Charles/In- dian Head, said NARFE has helped pro­tect or en­hance the re­tire­ment ben­e­fits that fed­eral work­ers like he and his wife, Brenda Bush, now have.

In 1952, Chap­ter 126 Charles County was orga- nized as a Mary­land Fed­er­a­tion found­ing mem­ber of the Na­tional As­so­cia- tion of Re­tired Civil Em- ploy­ees (NARCE). Over the years, the na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion changed its name to the Na­tional Ac- tive and Re­tired Fed­eral Em­ploy­ees As­so­ci­a­tion (NARFE).

NARFE’s mis­sion is to sup­port leg­is­la­tion ben­e­fi­cial to cur­rent and po­ten­tial fed­eral an­nu­i­tants and to op­pose leg­is­la­tion con­trary to their in­ter- ests. The or­ga­ni­za­tion’s na­tional of­fi­cers con- stantly speak be­fore Con- gress and keep fed­eral re­tirees in­formed about im­por­tant changes to their earned re­tire­ment ben­e­fits.

Richard G. Thissen, the na­tional pres­i­dent of NARFE, said he is look- ing for­ward to see­ing the chap­ter’s con­tin­ued suc­cess. He also took the time to en­cour­age lo­cal mem­bers to be­come more vo­cal about fed­eral re­tirees po­ten­tially los­ing their health­care ben­e­fits and cov­er­age.

“It was re­ally nice to be out here with the mem­bers to present the cer­tif- icate and re­mind them to be ready, to be on board and re­spond to the call for sup­port. I want them to con­tinue to be ac­tive and par­tic­i­pate in chap­ter, re­gional and na­tional lev­els of NARFE,” This- sen said. “This year is go­ing to be the ab­so­lute ar- maged­don year for new and re­tired em­ploy­ees who would be af­fected [by the pos­si­ble changes in re­tired fed­eral em­ployee ben­e­fits].”

This par­tic­u­lar chap­ter has more than 200 reg­is­tered mem­bers with 25-30 mem­bers who reg­u­larly at­tend chap­ter meet­ings. Rice said many of the re­tired em­ploy­ees are wor­ried about is­sues such as the pro­tec­tion of their health ben­e­fits pro­gram and the state tax­ing their re­tire­ment.

“We’re fac­ing some tough times com­ing up. In the past we’ve had lo­cal, state and na­tional pro­grams mak­ing gains in our ben­e­fits for the em­ploy­ees. How­ever, in the last five years we’ve been in a very de­fen­sive mode try­ing to pro­tect the earned ben­e­fits that we have,” Rice said.

“Right now the gov­ern­ment wants to cut back on the fed­eral re­tirees’ ben­e­fits like we’re a drag on the econ­omy, but we’ve paid our dues just like the peo­ple that get So­cial Se­cu­rity. You pay in and pay in and when you re­tire, you’ve been promised ben­e­fits so when you re­tire you should not have those ben­e­fits taken away,” Brenda Bush said.

Mem­ber­ship in NARFE is open to cur­rent civil­ian em­ploy­ees and re­tirees of the fed­eral and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., govern- ments, to their spouses and to those re­ceiv­ing sur­vivor an­nu­ities. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Ron or Brenda Bush at 301-934-8311 or email bren­da_bush@hot­mail.com.

STAFF PHOTO BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Com­mis­sioner De­bra M. Davis; Ed Rice, co-pres­i­dent of the NARFE Chap­ter 126 Western Charles/In­dian Head; Ron Bush, co-pres­i­dent of the NARFE Chap­ter 126 Western Charles/In­dian Head; and Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter F. Mur­phy at the 65th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of NARFE Chap­ter 126 on Feb. 2.

Ed Rice, co-pres­i­dent of the NARFE Chap­ter 126 Western Charles/ In­dian Head, re­ceived a cer­tifi­cate of recog­ni­tion from Richard G. Thissen, the na­tional pres­i­dent of NARFE, at the NARFE Chap­ter 126’s 65th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion on Feb. 2.

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