Webb and Sinders honored with outstanding volunteer award

Monday, July 8, 2024
SUBMITTED PHOTO. Paul Sinders and Karen Webb honored with IRTA Outstanding Volunteer Award.

The Indiana Retired Teachers Association recognized two Wabash Valley natives for their selfless volunteering at the beginning of June.

Paul Sinders, Clay County, and Karen Webb, Vigo County, received the Outstanding Volunteer Award for many volunteer hours for their counties.

Laura Penman, IRTA Executive Director, explains that the Indiana Retired Teachers Association began in the 1950s and will celebrate 75 years next year.

“We have one purpose, and that purpose is advocating for all retired educators,” said Penman. “Advocating for them at the Statehouse and helping them navigate the challenges of retirement.”

Even in retirement, IRTA members continue giving back to their community and volunteering. Penman explains they ask members to keep track of volunteer hours so they can commemorate their generous acts.

“Life doesn’t end with retirement. Sometimes, people joke how did they have time to work because they’re so busy in retirement. We want to honor that.”

SUBMITTED PHOTO. Vigo and Clay County IRTA delegates: Vigo--Ann Bartley, Karen Webb; Clay--Anna Long, Janella Knierim, Martha Knox

In addition to Outstanding Volunteer Awards, IRTA honors individuals with CASA and Clock Awards. The IRTA services Indiana in ten areas, with a Clock and CASA Award given to a member in each region.

“They might not have the most (volunteer hours); it’s all the different things they do to give back.”

One Clock winner spends his time gathering used and no longer needed glasses to send overseas, while another has made blankets and quilts for veterans.

“One member, when disasters hit schools, and they have a loss, he gathers up books and things to send to that area. That’s just something he’s passionate about.”

Penman says volunteering has no boundaries, and those who volunteer deserve recognition.

“It’s just endless what volunteer retired educators do. They’re going above and beyond what the expectation would be. We have a lot of members who do that.”

Like in their professions, Sinders and Webb have dedicated their retirement to giving back to the community. Paul Sinders is currently a Clay County Commissioner, and Karen Webb belongs to the Clay County Retired Teachers Association and is President of the Vigo County Retired Teachers Association.

“Retired educators really gave so much throughout their career outside of the classroom,” said Penman. “They are the most giving group of people I’ve ever met.”

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