Retirees often will say they are busier than ever now that work no longer beckons. This especially rings true with retired teachers.
Members of the Merced-Mariposa chapter of the California Retired Teachers Association can back up their volunteer calling with some impressive statistics.
For the past two years, they logged more than 113,000 volunteer hours each year with a wide variety of causes and groups.
"I go from 100 mph to absolutely zero," said retired Firebaugh, Dos Palos and Chowchilla teacher-principal Helga Feddersen. "I'm home a few minutes and then out again. In between there's no time left, but it's a lot of fun trying to juggle the balls all at once. Now I'm maxed out."
Feddersen is queen of a Red Hat Society group, vice president of the Merced Garden Club, and a volunteer with the American Cancer Society. She and her husband, Ernest, have a shared passion for lapidary arts and belong to the Mother Lode Mineral Society; they also make and sell jewelry pieces at area craft fairs.
Rich Gibson, president of the 405-member retired teachers group, said teachers are altruistic in nature and volunteerism is a natural outlet.
"Teachers don't sit home in a rocking chair," Gibson said. "Teachers are people persons; that's why they went into the profession in the first place. I've never had a problem finding volunteers."
Gibson retired six years ago after 33 years of teaching. He is chairman of the Merced County Democratic Central Committee. Like his friends, Gibson said retirees can't completely take it easy.
Elmano Costa, chairman of the Department of Teacher Education at California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock, agreed that retired teachers are active volunteers but is not aware of any research showing instructors are more likely to volunteer than others.
"People who go into education are helpers by nature," Costa said. "Teachers retire around age 60 and are still vigorous and have lots of energy."
Colleen Eisberg retired in 2007 after 32 years in education, teaching third grade at Leontine Gracey Elementary School.
She still volunteers Wednesday mornings in the Gracey library, is a board member of the local chapter of the Association of American University Women and helps out each Tuesday at Mercy Medical Center Merced. She also is active with Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fresno.
"It's good for everybody to keep busy," Eisberg said. "I have time now to give back to my community. We're used to socialization and stimulation, and you're doing a lot of good."
Hard to hold back
Carol Luhring is a docent at the Merced County Courthouse Museum, on the board of directors of the Merced County Historical Society and a member of the city's Design Review Board and Historic Preservation Committee. She retired 10 years ago after 25 years with Hopeton School.
Luhring said it's hard to unwind teachers from doing things.
"I love being at the museum," Luhring said. "It's a wonderful place to be and I do school tours. The object is to stay busy."
Sylvia Fuller of Atwater spent more than 30 years in education as a teacher and principal at Luther Burbank, John Muir and Charles Wright elementary schools. She is now the president of the Ebony Socialite Club and is a county library commissioner.
Fuller, who retired in 2000, also is president of the alumnae chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
"People seem to lead a more productive life when they are active," Fuller said. "It's very healthy to volunteer. Activity keeps you strong and alert. We should all do something to make the community better."
Marge Sadler of Atwater retired in 2006 after 38 years in education, most of it at Thomas Olaeta School in Atwater. Since then the Court Appointed Special Advocates group has taken over her life, she jokes.
"I'm officially the advocate for three siblings and unofficially work with the fourth one," Sadler said. "There are lots of parts of teaching I don't miss at all, but I miss the kids. I can't just sit around. Part of our personality makes us become a teacher in the first place."
As a CASA volunteer, Sadler takes the children on outings, helps out with their homework and accompanies them shopping. She goes to court sessions with the children and is part of CASA's Family Connections program.
Likes keeping busy
Heike Hambley taught for 36 years in Germany and California before retiring three years ago. She is the founder, artistic director and producer of the Shake-speare Festival that was started 11 years ago. She likes yoga, weightlifting and also volunteers at the Playhouse Merced box office.
"I'm busy and I like it that way," Hambley said. "I have never counted the hours. There are so many things, it's a lot."
Kathleen Crookham was a principal for 14 years at Hoover Middle School and seven years at Ada Givens Elementary School. She also taught for seven years. That was followed by a stint on the Merced County Board of Supervisors.
"I got up this morning excited about the prospects for the day," Crookham said. "I would be so bored if I didn't have things to do."
Crookham has been the president of the Merced Rotary Club and is on the Mercy Hospital Foundation board. She also is a member of the UC Merced board of trustees, the University Friends Circle board and was the president of the Merced Theatre Foundation.
She is the operating member of the family cattle ranch and is involved in the lives of her five grandchildren.
"I really care a lot about Merced," Crookham said. "I like to be around people. We are supposed to keep the brain working."
Evelyn Eagleton is the president of the Merced County Board of Education and a member of the Smith Family Trust board. She retired in 2006 after 32 years with the Merced County Office of Education and also taught extension classes at California State University, Sacramento.
Eagleton said it's rewarding being able to volunteer and helping out gives her motivation and self-satisfaction. She is a member of the Supervisory Committee of the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union, active in Soroptimist International and is a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society.
'Always an educator'
Mary Hofmann retired in 2009 after teaching seventh- and eighth-grade language arts for five years and being the library media teacher for 16 years at Rivera Middle School.
Now she is president of the Merced County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and a member of the Merced County Mental Health Advisory Board.
She also works in the Friends of the Library bookstore, is a member of the county's Library Advisory Commission and volunteers at her granddaughter's Montessori class at John Muir School. She is the administrative vice president of the League of Women Voters of Merced County, observes county supervisors' meetings and moderates candidate's nights.
"Once an educator, always an educator," Hofmann said. "I am an educator at heart and education is not limited to the schools. Most people don't go into education for the money; it's in your blood."
Shirley Vaughn-Hulbert retired in 2002 after 26 years in education. She is involved in the county's literacy program, is a member of the choir at St. Luke's Anglican Church and active in politics.
Vaughn-Hulbert has been a member of the League of Women Voters for 40 years.
"I don't know any retired teachers who are not doing volunteer things," Vaughn-Hulbert said. "We keep very busy."
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.