Posts Tagged ‘Build PSARA’

PSARA’s Plans for the Future

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

By Robby Stern

Among the many activities of PSARA, there are two projects I want to share with you. PSARA is focusing on helping to build a progressive movement that includes as a goal the opportunity for present and future generations to be able to enjoy their senior years with dignity and economic security.

Long Term Planning

PSARA’s long term organizational planning process achieved an important milestone in May. The PSARA Executive Board overwhelmingly approved a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) to create a strategic partnership with Washington Community Action Network (Washington CAN!), a statewide community-based organization with approximately 40,000 members.

Thanks to our members, PSARA has grown to more than 1,250 members. It is very difficult to continue to administer an organization of this size with what is essentially volunteers. (We have a few people on contract, but much of the administration is accomplished by volunteers.)

More importantly, to quote from the MOU, “Growing retirement insecurity has become a permanent feature of the long-term growth in economic inequality and insecurity in our nation.” The harsh reality is that more and more people, young, middle aged, and old, face uncertain and insecure retirements.

PSARA has been dedicated for decades (different names but similar visions) to providing a leading voice in the fight for a secure and dignified retirement for all people. In order to be more effective in the fight for retirement security, we need a statewide community-based movement that is capable of demanding policies at the local, state, and national level that will promote real retirement security.

step up to the challenge of trying to create that statewide presence and movement. We approached Washington CAN!, which also does retirement security work, and asked them if they would be interested in creating a strategic partnership with PSARA. They were very excited about the possibility.

Washington CAN! has experience in creating and working with organizations that serve the larger progressive movement. The best example of this is the Main Street Alliance, a statewide progressive small business association with several thousand members. Main Street Alliance was first organized by Washington CAN! and now has its own governance structure working in patnership with Washington CAN!. Without going into details, the Main Street Alliance has changed the statewide business advocacy landscape dramatically. With thousands of small business members, they have been a voice for progressive changes while also representing the needs of small businesses.

With the model of the Main Street Alliance in mind, and also realizing that PSARA already has a dynamic presence primarily in the Seattle region and a very effective governance structure, we began discussions with Washington CAN! about a strategic partnership. The partnership includes a contract with Washington CAN! to handle a large proportion of our administrative work, assistance for PSARA with grant writing and fund-raising, and joint work on policy issues where our interests are aligned.

The PSARA Long Term Planning Committee, under the capable guidance of PSARA member Alice Ito, developed, along with Washington CAN! leaders and staff, an outline of what became a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations. At the same time, a number of PSARA leaders met with a significant number of Washington CAN! leaders and staff to get to know each other better and learn about each other’s organization.

In May, the Memorandum of Understanding was approved by the PSARA Executive Board and the leadership of Washington CAN!. PSARA will retain our identity, our governance structure, and all decision-making authority for the direction PSARA will take. The changes you are likely to see over time as we move into the implementation stage are new methods of communication. For example, we will continue to produce and mail hard copies of the Retiree Advocate unless you would rather receive the online version. But many of the letters we now mail (reminders that it is renewal time or thank you letters) will be replaced with emails when we have the member’s email address. This change is more efficient and far less costly for PSARA.

We hope that through joint fundraising we will be able to develop the resources to get at least a half-time staff person, possibly shared with Washington CAN! working on retirement security issues.

There will be glitches. Please be patient as we work through the glitches. Ultimately, we will all benefit from gaining the capacity to implement a progressive retirement security agenda statewide.

Mark Your Calendar for August 8!! “Medicare & Social Security: Celebrating Decades of Success”

The 50th Anniversary of Medicare and the 80th Anniversary of Social Security provides us with the perfect opportunity to educate regarding our goals for these two bedrock social insurance programs. Turning out large numbers of people at Westlake Park on August 8 can help educate about the need to expand these programs. We want enhancement of the two programs to be a focus of discussion in the 2016 election.

Besides celebrating past successes of the programs, we will focus on how we can help make these programs meet the needs and economic realities of the 21st century. Medicare, to be more financially sound, should be expanded and available to all, regardless of age. Medicare needs to include a long-term care benefit and Center for Medicare Services should be authorized to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over the cost of prescription drugs.

Social Security benefits must be increased. Additionally, there needs to be a credit rather than a financial penalty for people who take time off from paid work to care for a family member. The COLA needs to be changed to the CPI-E (Consumer Price Index for the Elderly); survivor benefits for kids who lose a parent should continue to age 22 so these kids have the opportunity for higher education; and the spousal survival benefit needs to be increased. Scrapping the Cap will pay for a large portion of these benefit improvements. Combined with a small increase in the payroll tax, we can financially achieve these needed reforms.

Please put August 8 on your calendar and invite your neighbors and friends.

Help PSARA Plan Our Future

Monday, July 7th, 2014

By Susan Levy, PSARA Outreach Vice President 

PSARA’s Executive Board established the Long Term Planning and Development Committee (LTPC). We have been meeting, and with your input the Executive Board approved the draft Vision and Mission Statements that are reprinted below. The LTPC is moving forward to prioritize PSARA’s focus for the short and for the long run. Basically we are asking which issues, places, people and communities will be our main focus as we work toward our mission. (We can’t yet do everything all the time.)

To help in this process we ask each of you for your thoughts on what is important to you. Please write down your thoughts on the following three questions and email them to me at outreachvp@psara.org or mail them to the PSARA office. (If you did this at the membership meeting, you don’t need to do it again.)

1. What’s most important to you about PSARA?

2. What could be changed or added to improve PSARA?

3. Imagine that you are recruiting a new PSARA member. Please give one sentence you would use to describe PSARA.

Your responses will go to the LTPC, which will make recommendations first to the Executive Board and then to the membership meeting. Thanks for your help and don’t worry about spelling, grammar or making sure your answers are perfect. No grades will be given! We just really want your main ideas.

Proposed Vision Statement 

Through our collective activism, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) is helping to create a just and peaceful world where all people can live 

with dignity and respect. 

Proposed Mission Statement 

PSARA, a multi-generational and multi-racial organization, is committed to working for economic and social justice, environmental sustainability, economic security, and equal rights and opportunities for retirees and future retirees. 

PSARA’s Vision and Mission

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

By Robby Stern 

PSARA is in the midst of an organizational long-term planning process. The PSARA Executive Board has approved a draft Vision & Mission Statement. From this statement we will develop a refinement of our unique role in the broader progressive movement and an articulation of our long- and short-term goals.

Proposed Vision 

Through our collective activism, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) is helping to create a just and peaceful world where all people can live with dignity and respect. 

Proposed Mission 

PSARA, a multi-generational and multi-racial organization, is committed to working for economic and social justice, environmental sustainability, economic security, and equal rights and opportunities for retirees and future retirees. 

We welcome your comments. Your thoughts will be considered and discussed. Please email president@psara. org. The whole package of vision, mission, role, goals, and structure to carry out these tasks will be brought before a general membership meeting either in June or December.

The vision and mission statements are the framework for the short-term and long-term goals that will form the basis of the work of the organization for the foreseeable future. The long-term planning committee will propose these goals to our twenty-nine-member Executive Board within the next couple of months. All members are invited to attend.

We have yet to tackle the thorny structural and financial issues that we know are ahead of us. With a growing membership (a very good thing!), administrative responsibilities and tasks have grown enormously. For example, every month we mail letters to members who are in arrears on their yearly membership and we mail three notices. The number of letters has grown to over one hundred per month.

Additionally, the work of the organization is, for the most part, performed by volunteers. With our growth and with the addition of new areas of work (e.g., environmental sustainability), the coordination of the activities of the organization requires full-time oversight. We are examining creative ways to meet the growing organizational demands and stay a feisty and activist progressive voice for the rights of seniors and all people to live with dignity, respect and economic security.

Senior Economic Security 

As the baby boomers age, there is an exponential increase in the number of seniors. A recent report on CNN Business points out that the U.S. is facing a growing crisis of economic insecurity for seniors. To quote from the report, “U.S. retirees are facing worse conditions for their golden years than retired workers in many other developed countries – from Canada and the United Kingdom to South Korea.”

The U.S. ranked 19th in retirement security for the second year in a row, according to a report from Natixis Global Asset Management. Eight of the top ten spots were taken by European countries with strong public and private pension systems and comprehensive health care systems.

In the U.S., workers are trying to save for their own retirements with 401(K) plans that are proving to be totally inadequate. The study identified four categories that are critical to economic security for seniors and identified how the U.S. is doing in each of those areas.

Healthcare (U.S. ranks 21st) Healthcare spending in the U.S. is higher than any other country, yet life expectancy is lower than in most advanced Western countries. (e.g., there is a two-year life expectancy difference between the United Kingdom and the U.S., 81 to 79.)

Finances (U.S. ranks 22nd) Not enough money in 401(Ks) & low interest rates.

Quality of Life (U.S. ranks 24th) According to the study, while Americans appear to be “generally satisfied with the quality of their lives,” environmental factors such as water and air pollution caused a reduction in the ranking. (While not in the study, you can be sure that growing income inequality and the decline of the middle class has a big impact on quality of life.)

Economic well-being (U.S. ranks 36th) The authors of the study attribute this low ranking to persistent unemployment and income inequality. (They do not discuss the types of jobs the economy is creating and the fact that such a huge proportion of the jobs are low-wage.)

The authors of this study are an asset management outfit. They are probably not on our side of the political spectrum, which makes their conclusions all the more interesting. They fail to mention the decline in unionization, which is critical to understanding the growing income inequality and retirement insecurity. They also do not mention the growing elimination of defined benefit pensions which many of us were taught was a critical third leg of a retirement program that offered the opportunity for a secure retirement.

PSARA works to help build a progressive movement in our region that promotes both needed reforms and systemic change. It is our unique role to insure that part of the discussion of the goals of that movement include retirement security for all generations, both those of us now in our senior years and for the generations to follow.

Help PSARA Grow!

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

PSARA’s Executive Board has committed to an aggressive goal for growth in 2014. Each of the twenty nine PSARA Executive Board members has committed to enlisting at least five new PSARA members in 2014. They will accomplish this goal by either recruiting new members or giving the gift of membership to someone(s) they know. (This monthly newsletter is a pretty nice gift!)

Now we are asking our PSARA members to help. If each PSARA member recruits or gifts at least one new member this year, our effectiveness in fighting for retirement security for present and future seniors will increase.

Recruiting or gifting one new member is not a daunting task. Just think about it. Who do you know that would appreciate receiving this monthly newsletter? If each of you signed one new member to our rolls, we would greatly increase the number of people getting the information in this newsletter. We would increase the number of people who could act collectively to promote economic and social justice, environmental sustainability, economic security and equal rights and opportunities for retirees and future retirees.

You will be hearing about this campaign and how we are doing as the year progresses. Please help make our membership campaign successful! If you need help recruiting a new member let us know. Call the office or email us at outreacvp@psara.org. Or if you need more membership forms or information, just ask. With your help this will be a great year for PSARA.

Honor Will, build PSARA

Friday, May 31st, 2013

In this issue of the Retiree Advocate, we remember our mentor, friend, and comrade Will Parry.

Unlike some PSARA members who worked with Will for decades, I knew him, of course – everybody knew Will – but I only had the opportunity to work closely with him in the last 18 months when I came aboard as associate editor of the Advocate.

During that time I saw Will mainly as a journalist, and he was one of the great journalists. Will wrote in a plain, straightforward style, with humor, yes – Will had a sparkling sense of humor – but without any frills or rhetorical flourishes of any kind.

Will wrote that way because he always had a purpose in mind. Will wanted to change the world. And he believed that we were the ones who were going to have to change it.

Will wrote with absolute confidence that ordinary men and women could understand even the most complicated problems, and once they understood, could get together and solve them.

Will meant for the Advocate to have a role in that process of change. He wanted it be a tool for organizing.

Will envisioned PSARA members taking the Advocate to their friends, neighbors, and co-workers, pointing to an article, and saying “Look, did you hear about that? What are we going to do about it?”

No individual can fill Will’s shoes, but as we honor him by continuing his work, let’s use the Advocate in the way Will envisioned it being used, and let’s build PSARA, the organization he devoted so much time and energy to.

You can help.

Please use the coupon below to renew your PSARA membership and subscription to the Advocate, or better yet, give a subscription to someone you know, and get them involved in PSARA. Or as Will said, just find us a millionaire.

— Mike Andrew