2024 Public Service Week

Governor Cooper has proclaimed May 5-11, 2024 as Public Service Week in the great state of North Carolina. The purpose of celebrating this week is to admire and honor the people who deliver public service and make everyday chores possible for us.

In North Carolina, public service employees have been and remain the main contributors to the many accolades our state has received. They are professional, dedicated, and knowledgeable and can be depended on to keep our state and its many communities running smoothly.

So, this week, join NCRGEA in raising a glass to the people employed in the public sector and shine the spotlight on their work.

President’s Message

by Dr. Michael Taylor | Spring 2024 Living Power Magazine

Desire to Serve Others

The Japanese have a concept called IKIGAI (ee-kee-gay), which loosely translates into the happiness of always being busy doing something you love. IKIGAI combines your passion (what you love doing) with your vocation (what you are good at), with what the world needs (the job market), and finally, what you can get paid to do!

As retirees, we all followed different paths into the public sector. Maybe it was a family history of public service or perhaps somebody who inspired us. A teacher told me a kind and caring high school teacher inspired her to spend a career in the classroom. As retired public servants, we are fortunate because there were so many opportunities in the public sector that allowed us to find a calling that fits our passion and our mission.

One size does not fit all when it comes to our enthusiasm for public service, so the Japanese concept of IKIEGA sounds right. In the days of black-and-white TV, Frank Lovejoy was the lead detective in a crime drama called “Naked City.” No, it was not a show about a nudist colony; instead, it was a story about crime in a city with eight million people. The show opened with, “There are eight million stories in the naked city.” There are that many stories and more about why our members devoted their careers to public service.

One association member, who served in county government, explained it this way: “This was an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and to help provide them with opportunities to be successful. And not just individuals, but the job impacted the quality of life in entire communities.”

Another retiree, who worked in technology in county government, was inspired by her father to go into public service. She explains she was a second-generation public servant. “My father was a postmaster, and I grew up watching his devotion to serving the public.”

Family played a role in the decision of another NCRGEA member who was a social worker. “Having experienced a challenging childhood with divorced parents and relocation of the family at a critical age for me, I felt the best way to help children and families in crisis was through social work. The reward was certainly not financial but absolutely the satisfaction of enhancing healthy families.”

Still, another member who retired from the community college system explained it this way. “I have loved every aspect of my career because I was helping to build something or helping people have a better quality of life.”

And finally, a public education retiree noted his grandfather was a Chief of Police, and his mother was a first-grade teacher. He explained, “Those of us who began work in the sixties understood the theme of the time was more about ‘we’ than ‘me.’

That’s what public servants do; they aspire to help the ‘we,’ WE wanted to help.”

President’s Path

As for me, the road began as a student at Lenoir Community College in Kinston, where a group of dedicated and hard-working faculty and staff convinced a kid who graduated from high school in half of the class that made the top half possible, he was capable of so much more. Not only did I get my first degree there, but the desire to be like those who inspired me. This led to a 32-year career in our great community college system.

NCRGEA has over 65,000 members. If I could talk to all of you, I am certain I would hear many different stories about the roads you followed into public service. Yes, different stories, but somewhere in each of those stories would be the same passion to serve others, to make a difference. As one person I spoke with said, “My job was a higher calling.”

One of my duties as President of NCRGEA is to pen a column for every edition of Living Power. This is my final column, as my two-year term as NCRGEA president is over in June. During these two years, I have had a chance to visit with many of you at district conferences (Winston-Salem, Hendersonville, Shelby, Durham, Fayetteville, Morehead City, Greenville, Concord, and Raleigh) and at our legislative days in Raleigh, and even on Zoom. It has been an honor to represent such a great group of people who have dedicated their careers to the service of others.

In thinking about the subject matter for this final column, I considered several topics, including all the changes at your association over the past two years, along with the challenges we face as an organization. But finally, I thought the best topic would be to consider exactly what we all shared during our careers: a desire to serve others.

AMBA’s May Recipe: Mediterranean-Style Salmon Burgers

Everybody loves a good burger, right? They’re delicious and can satiate even the biggest appetite. However, the trans-fats and high calories of traditional burgers have significant health concerns. No worries! AMBA has a fresh beef-free spin on this family favorite that delivers juicy flavors and heart-healthy omega fats and protein.

These salmon burgers will surely be a crowd-pleaser at the dinner table or a weekend get-together. You can serve them on a bun with arugula, tomatoes, onions, and Tzatziki sauce. Or, for a low-carb option, serve them on a bed of lettuce and sliced seasonal vegetables dressed with lemon and olive oil.


  • 1½ lb. skinless salmon fillet
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbsp minced green onion
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground sumac
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • A dash of kosher salt
  • One lemon

Directions to Make Mediterranean-Style Salmon Burgers

1) Cut salmon into bite-sized chunks. Place about ¼ of the salmon in the bowl of a large food processor. Add the Dijon mustard and run the processor until the mixture is pasty. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

2) Place the remaining salmon in the food processor. Pulse a couple of times until it’s coarsely chopped into ¼-inch pieces. Be sure to maintain some texture without getting pasty. Add the finely processed salmon to the bowl.

3) Add the minced green onions and chopped parsley to the bowl—season with coriander, sumac, paprika, and black pepper. Add the kosher salt and mix until combined. Cover and chill for approximately 30 minutes.

4) As the salmon chills, slice a tomato and red onion. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and a plate with paper towels.

5) Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on a plate. Divide the chilled salmon mixture into four equal portions and form into 1-inch-thick patties. Place each patty in the breadcrumbs and press to coat on each side. Place the breaded salmon patties on the lined sheet pan.

6) Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high. Lower each of the patties into the hot oil. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, then flip. Cook for about 4 minutes or until the patty is medium-rare and lightly browned on both sides. Adjust heat as necessary during cooking.

7) Set cooked salmon burgers onto the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Spread with a bit of tzatziki sauce.

8) Layer on the arugula, tomato, and onion slices. Enjoy!

Why Emergency Medical Transportation Can Be So Expensive and How You Can Protect Yourself

People who have needed an ambulance frequently ask the same question when they receive the bill: “How is the cost of the ambulance so expensive?” Why should a short ride to a nearby hospital cost significantly more than an Uber ride? The reason is simple: an Uber ride only needs to get a passenger to their location. On the other hand, an ambulance ride is designed to provide vital assistance to someone experiencing a medical emergency and deliver them to the hospital. AMBA can help you understand why medical transportation can be so expensive and how to help avoid paying this out of your own pocket.

Labor, Training, Readiness, and Equipment

Emergency medical teams need hands-on experience in dealing with emergencies. In addition to the cost of training Emergency Medical Services personnel, having at least two people for every patient in an ambulance is often necessary.

People who receive ambulance transportation pay for the services they receive and the cost of making ambulances readily available.

All equipment and staff must also meet local and state regulatory requirements. The cost of this maintenance rapidly adds up. Treatment equipment to stabilize the trauma patient before reaching the hospital can include emergency ventilators, stretchers, cardiac monitors, infusion pumps, nebulizer machines, oxygen, and more.

What if the patient receives no additional care during the ambulance ride? Unfortunately, these services frequently don’t itemize the care or medications a patient may receive during an ambulance ride. Patients are charged for one of two types of care: essential life support or advanced life support.

In fact, the ride is the least expensive part of an ambulance trip. The mileage charge generally makes up the most minor portion of the final bill.

No matter the financial cost, the priority is to get trauma patients to the hospital as quickly and safely as possible. An Uber ride is no substitute for the care an experienced EMS team with vital, life-saving equipment can provide.

AMBA Can Help Protect You from the Cost of Emergency Medical Transportation

NCRGEA and AMBA can protect your savings with a Medical Air Services Association (MASA) plan. MASA provides lifesaving emergency transportation services. Services are paid in full, with no deductibles, co-pays, or dollar limits. MASA covers your ambulance or airlift in all 50 states and Canada, regardless of your age or medical condition.

Your care is the most important thing in a medical emergency. You can make the cost worry-free by signing up today. NCRGEA and AMBA make getting MASA easy. You can even sign up online. Learn more at www.AMBAmedtransport.com/NCRGEA or call 800-956-1228 Mon.-Fri 9am-6pm ET.

The Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time on Vision – and Overall – Health

How much time do you spend each day looking at a digital screen? You might be surprised by how much time is spent looking at a computer screen, television, phone, or tablet. What might also surprise you is how far we exceed the recommended hours. AMBA is here to provide the information you need and help you care for your eyes and overall health.

Why Excessive Screen Time Can Affect Your Vision

Our eyes need to focus and move more when looking at screens. As a result, screen usage can contribute to eye health issues. Additionally, the constant exposure to blue light, standard in many digital devices, can make our eyes extremely sensitive to light.

Digital eye strain symptoms (computer vision syndrome) include mild discomfort, dryness, and irritation. But more severe issues can also occur:

  • Eye fatigue can cause double vision and concentration difficulties.
  • Decreased focus flexibility can impact your ability to adjust your sight to see at all distances.
  • Prolonged exposure to LEDs can cause irreversible loss of retinal cells and may lead to a loss in vision sharpness.
  • Although it’s rare for nearsightedness to get worse as we age, there are exceptions.

Our vision’s health also plays a significant role in our overall health. Additional issues excessive screen time can cause include headaches, brain fog, and sleep-related issues, including insomnia.

How You Can Protect Your Eyes

You can take steps to protect your eyes with these 5 steps.

  • Adjust your screen brightness. Dimming your screens can make a significant difference.
  • Get enough sleep: Turn off your devices at least one hour before bed.
  • Keep a safe distance:  Try keeping your screen about 4-5 inches below eye level and 20-28 inches from your eyes.
  • Practice the 20-20-20 Rule: Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Blink: Take a break, step away from the screen, and blink or fully close your eyes for approximately a minute. If the irritation continues, eye drops can help.

Another vital way to help protect your eyes is to visit your eye doctor. Eye exams help your eye care provider check your vision’s health and determine if any eye conditions may be developing. NCRGEA and AMBA have a comprehensive Vision Plan at affordable rates. The benefits of this plan include annual WellVision checkups, 100% coverage for most lenses (even progressives!), and thousands of nationwide in-network providers. Sign up today – acceptance is GUARANTEED! – at www.AMBAdentalvision.com/NCRGEA or call 800-956-1228.

Source: www.reidhealth.org/blog/screen-time-for-adults#:~:text=What’s%20a%20healthy%20amount%20of,spent%20participating%20in%20physical%20activity.

Peace of Mind Doesn’t Need to Be a Headache: AMBA Makes Getting Life Insurance Easy

AMBA understands the challenges you face when it comes to life insurance. AMBA knows that many people like you need help obtaining a policy. That’s why AMBA’s mission is to make the process as easy and straightforward as possible.

People have various reasons for wanting life insurance. Some want the protections to cover their eventual final expenses. Others want it to help settle estate taxes or debt. Additional reasons include leaving a gift for one’s children and grandchildren or supplementing a life insurance policy that has not kept pace with inflation. At the heart of it, the reason is always the same: peace of mind for themselves and their families.

Other providers often make obtaining this essential coverage a complex and frustrating process. They may disqualify you due to medical conditions or lifestyle issues or require you to pass lengthy exams and tests. What’s more, many policies have premiums that can fluctuate over time or can drop you with no explanation. AMBA believes in a different approach, one that is transparent, fair, and designed to meet your needs.

How AMBA Makes Getting – and Having – Comprehensive Life Insurance Easy

Advantages of the Whole Life policy from your association and AMBA include:

  • Guaranteed acceptance for ages 45-85
  • Reasonable premiums guaranteed never to increase
  • You can never be canceled for any reason as long as premiums are paid.
  • Guaranteed benefits that are never reduced due to health or age.
  • A no-obligation 30-day return policy.
  • From a source you trust, NCRGEA and AMBA.

The Whole Life Policy from NCRGEA and AMBA can provide the financial security you and your family deserve. Learn more or sign up online at www.AMBAlifeinsurance.com/NCRGEA or call 800-956-1228 Mon.-Fri 9am-6pm ET.