After many years of contribution to the tribe, elders Georgia McKinley and Glenda Richards have officially said hello to retirement. A special celebration was held for the two on Thursday, June 30, gathering friends, coworkers and families for the sendoff. McKinley has serviced the tribe since 1972, specializing in education, Ute history, and the Ute language. Richards has worked over 20 years in education and over 10 years in health.
“The Academy has been my home for many years, all because I really enjoyed being with the kids,” said McKinley to her family and friends. “They are the joy of my life, including my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I’ve been around children my entire life, just like my mother. I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way.”
“When you work with children, everything comes from the heart,” Richards said. “You have to appreciate your job, and it’s very rewarding in the end.”
Gifts were awarded to Ms. McKinley and Ms. Richards, including a Pendleton blanket and beaded necklace for their dedication.
Tribal Council members Melvin J. Baker, Lorelei Cloud, and Alex S. Cloud gave their personal thanks in regards to being a big part of the children’s lives.
“I just wanted to say, what you’ve done with the kids is amazing,” stated Councilman Baker. “I hope you enjoy your retirement and we hope to see you back. You’ve done so much for all of us.”
“You have seen a lot going on with the tribe, and working with the kids is a special feeling because you get to see them grow,” Councilman Cloud added. “It’s gratifying to know there are elders willing to speak and share our beautiful language with our tribal members. That’s a heck of a gift to give back.”
Tamera Reynolds from the Parent Advisory Group stated, “It hurts me to see tribal members leave the school because they teach our young ones the history of us. We hope to see you come back and volunteer for the Parental Advisory Group.”
Ute language guide Stacey Oberly embraced the two with a hug and smile, stating, “Both of you created a legacy in which you made our youth proud to be Ute.”