FCRTA members visit with former Mrs. Arkansas United States

Published Friday, February 29, 2008

Laine Eden Berry, former Mrs. Arkansas United States, was the program speaker at the Faulkner County Retired Teachers Association meeting which took place on Feb. 19 at the First Baptist Church in Conway. Berry is the executive director and founder of the program "Taking Wellness to Heart" a non-profit organization which sponsors educational programs aimed especially at women on the dangers of heart disease and its prevention. The organization also raises funds to conduct life saving research in the field of women's cardiovascular health and works at the community level to supply technology and training.

Berry became interested in women's heart health after her mother suffered from symptoms which were not relieved after months of treatment by medical professionals. It was only after the family demanded tests aimed at diagnosing heart disease that it was discovered that her mother had over 90 percent blockage in three arteries. Surgery saved her life. That same year, Berry was diagnosed with Bypass Tachycardia complicated by Arrhythmia. She had spent her entire life suffering from unexplained fainting spells and exhaustion which were eventually tied to these disorders of the heart's rhythm. "It became my goal to learn as much about heart disease in women as possible. What I learned both terrified and inspired me."


Berry shared many interesting facts about heart disease stating that it is the number one cause of death among American women killing over 500,000 women annually. It is estimated that one in two women will die of heart disease or stoke. Because the symptoms of women vary and are different from those of men, many women do not realize they are having a heart attack and fail to seek medical attention often resulting in premature death. Berry provided informational brochures and a business card which outlined women's heart disease sympto Anyone interested in contacting Berry may do so by e-mailing her at takingwellnesstoheart@yahoo.com or visiting her website at www.takingwellnesstoheart.org.

Berry has been featured in a past issue of the Log Cabin's Women's Inc. and was photographed with her mother for its cover.

Before the program, Historian Charlotte Bell greeted the membership at a table decorated with heart shaped candy boxes and red roses. The heart theme was further carried out through the decorations which included heart doilies scattered on the refreshment tables and heart shaped gift bags which became centerpieces at each table.

President Nancy Mitchell called the meeting to order and Secretary Julia Fraser read the minutes from the January meeting. The minutes were accepted and approved as read.

President-Elect Carl Barger thanked the February Host/Hostess Committee chaired by Nancy Mitchell and made up of members Helen Atkinson, Liz Workman, Bill and Ruby Graff, Julia Fraser, Audie and Elizabeth Lynch, Mary Mobley, and Joe and Lou Dillard for providing the decorations and refreshments.

First Vice-President Sharon Rapp, Chair of the Program Committee, announced the March 18 musical program which will be presented by Judy Rogers and her students from Jim Stone Elementary School, the S-Tones/Stone Men. Rapp also informed the group about the upcoming April 3 educator's field trip to the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie and the Arkansas Post Memorial which are both in the Stuttgart area. The group will leave the church Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. After a tour of the museum, lunch will be at the 'Country Gossip Shop.' The group will proceed to the Arkansas Post Memorial where a short film about the area will be shown and a light walking tour will take place on a paved outdoor trail. There will be a $5 transportation charge and participants are encouraged to wear layered clothing, a jacket, and comfortable shoes. Bringing water, sunscreen, and a camera is also advised.

Attendance Chairperson, Elizabeth Rose Black, announced that there were fifty-seven members in attendance. Community Service Chairperson, Jean Bell, announced that the membership had over 1199 volunteer hours for the combined months of January and February. Those with the most volunteer hours were Nancy Mitchell, Sharon Rapp, Madine Moss and Audie Lynch.

During the Legislative Committee report, Carl Barger spoke about the latest COLA developments and its affect on retired teachers' salaries. He encouraged members to stay in contact with legislatures on issues of concern.

Janet Burks, Chair of the Scholarship Committee, presented the name of Megan Elizabeth Shannon for consideration for the 2008 FCRTA Scholarship which is awarded to college students seeking degrees in the field of education. Shannon is an Early Childhood and Special Education major at UCA. The membership voted in favor of awarding the scholarship to the candidate.

Mitchell announced that the "A Bookcase for Every Child Fourth Annual Awards Ceremony" will take place at the Faulkner County Library on Sunday, April 27 at 3 p.m. Dr. Greg Murray, superintendent for Conway Public School District, will be the keynote speaker. Everyone was encouraged to attend. Fifty bookcases will be given to children who are students in local Head Start Progra The FCRTA adopted the ABEC program for the 07-08 school year and several of the members have volunteered to read at the two local centers.

Julia Fraser gave a brief report on the status of the Corporate Spelling Bee and the organization's involvement. She passed out past programs to familiarize the group with the Faulkner County Literacy Council benefit. More information will be shared as the date of the event approaches. Carl Barger and Ella Reese have volunteered to seek corporate funding and form a team.

The March Host/Hostess Committee was announced with Janet and Arvil Burks as co-chairs. Other members are Faye Sanson, Ann Broach, Edna Rives, Faye Hunnicutt, George and Betty Doty, Russell and Mary Langston, and Wanda Eason.

The Arkansas Retired Teachers Association recently mailed out brochures outlining a "Hearing Benefit Plan" which is available free of charge to its members. The plan is provided by "Hear in America." Free annual hearing screenings are available for the immediate family along with other benefits. For more information and to register, members are asked to call 1-800-286-6149.

As Vice President of the Old Conway Preservation Society, Mrs. Mitchell made an announcement concerning the Conway Symphony Designer House which will take place at the Dave Ward mansion on Caldwell Street from Feb. 29 through March 21.

Ticket prices and tour dates were discussed and the membership was encouraged to support this fundraising event whose proceeds will go to support several charities in Faulkner County including the United Way, Conway Regional Women's Council, and the Family and Consumer Sciences Department at the University of Central Arkansas. Proceeds will also benefit the educational, musical, and outreach programs of the Conway Symphony. Members were asked to contact the Conway Symphony for further details at symphony@conwaycorp.net . The home will become the Ward Mansion Bed and Breakfast which will open officially for business in April.

Paulette Herring, Chair of the Communications Committee, and her members were thanked for reminding the membership of the monthly meetings. Denver Prince, association photographer, was shown appreciation for his outstanding work in providing pictures for the news releases and archives.

In making preparations for the 08-09 year, sign up sheets were passed to provide the membership with an opportunity to volunteer for the various working committees. With no further announcements, the meeting was adjourned for a time of refreshments and fellowship.

The Nominations Committee met after the meeting to discuss the filling of positions which will be vacated at the end of this term. In April and May, members will be given an opportunity to pay dues for the upcoming year.

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