Parting Thoughts from David Blazevich - The Bernard Osher Foundation
Members Make Sweet Harmonica Harmony - OLLI at California State University Long Beach
Keeping Up with Member Growth - OLLI at University of Denver
Podcasting "Adulthood and Aging" - OLLI at University of Connecticut
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Greetings from the NRC    Jan 2020 15
Welcome to the new decade for your Osher Institute. While the Osher Institute Network will not officially turn 20 until next year, we sure don't feel or act like teenagers...or do we?
This issue of the Osher National Newsletter clearly expresses our youthful energy. Between lessons on site growth from OLLI associates in Colorado, to the musical expressions of members in California, the creativity of podcasting in Connecticut, to a profile of an inspiring facility in South Carolina, the vitality and excitement of lifelong learning at Osher Institutes is well represented.
We also have some final thoughts and kind words of thanks to share with you from David Blazevich, our Osher Foundation colleague who recently left us to become the executive director of the Fleishacker Foundation.
As we begin this new decade, it's a good time to remind you of the mission of the National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (Osher NRC). Our mission is to help Osher Institutes thrive. We do this through connecting the 124 Institutes to each other and to helpful resources; through collaborating with and among OLLIs; by consulting with Osher Institutes on effective practices; and by celebrating the successes, camaraderie, and growth of Osher Institutes and their members in our shared love of learning.
The Osher NRC team thanks you for your faithful attention in reading and contributing to this monthly newsletter - and by celebrating and sharing your successes throughout the Osher Institute Network with us.

We send warm wishes for all the best in 2020,
With gratitude,
Steve Thaxton, Executive Director

The Bernard Osher Foundation
Soon after I began working at The Bernard Osher Foundation thirteen years ago, I met a wonderful volunteer during a site visit who helped me understand the real value and importance of the Osher Institutes. As we walked together, she greeted nearly everyone we passed by name. Her cheerfulness was contagious, and I could see why she was so effective on the program's membership outreach committee.
But when I asked her how she became involved, her response took me back. Soon after she and her husband moved to the area for retirement, he died unexpectedly. She suddenly found herself alone in a new city, and she didn't have enough money to move back home.
To escape the emptiness of her apartment, she took an Osher Institute class. In addition to intellectual stimulation and a much-needed distraction from grief, she found something she felt was even more valuable: a new community of good friends. "This program saved my life," she told me. She also said that she now felt an obligation to make her Osher Institute as welcoming as possible to help others avoid the kind of isolation she experienced.
Her story, and hundreds of others like them I've encountered over the years, exemplifies what's so powerful and inspiring about the work that all of you do every day. Your educational programs offer not only opportunities for intellectual growth, they also bring people together, lift them up, and help them find community, connection, and purpose. 
They provide a welcoming place to explore big ideas, make discoveries about our common humanity and interconnectedness, and become a part of something larger than ourselves. And, with 124 Osher Institutes now collectively serving more than 200,000 people in nearly 390 cities across the country, it has indeed been profoundly rewarding to be part of something that has become so much larger and more meaningful than I could have ever imagined, walking with that volunteer all those years ago.
Working with all of you, Mr. and Mrs. Osher, Mary Bitterman, our trustees, my colleagues at the Osher Foundation, and Steve Thaxton and his terrific team at the NRC to advance the Osher Institute network and its inspiring mission has been a wonderful journey and a tremendous honor. I thank you and salute the enriching educational programs and thriving learning communities you have created that mean so much to so many.
With sincere gratitude,
David Blazevich

OLLI at California State University Long Beach
Members Make Sweet Harmonica Harmony
Beginning music students entertain themselves as they learn. Often their goal is to get good enough to entertain others as well. The Harmonica Workshop at OLLI at California State University Long Beach has attained this level of talent. What started out as six people wanting to practice with their harmonicas has developed into Beginner and Intermediate level groups of 10 to 15 people in each! In September, they all played for a small audience in their new studio/classroom at the Long Beach Sea Scout Base overlooking Long Beach Marina.

Their "Intersession Harp Recital" delighted the audience and even resulted in a "sing-a-long" with some of the familiar tunes. The students have previously performed on campus, at Leisure World, (a local retirement community) and for the world-wide Make Music Day Celebrations in Recreation Park and Belmont Shore sections of Long Beach. Believing music is meant to be shared, Harmonica Workshop facilitators, Jim Worsham and Marc Davidson, encourage performances by all students, even if it is just at home with family members.

The recital set list included several well-known pieces that allowed students of all levels to participate. Their playing was interspersed with singing the old standards to guitar accompaniment by Marc and OLLI member Don Horning, and some of the more advanced students played solos. The audience consisted mostly of family and friends who were able to attend the Wednesday morning event. Following a 45-minute program, everybody enjoyed a potluck in the Sea Scout Base lunch room.

One attendee, OLLI Executive Director Dr. Barbara White, gave the students high marks for their efforts and paid the ultimate compliment when she suggested that perhaps they could perform for other OLLI events.

Later this fall, the OLLI Harmonica group will offer a program to the local Long Beach Lions Club at their monthly meeting. They surprised the group by bringing along some new Harmonicas for those in the audience who thought they might like to try a "play-along" and test out this skill. It was a good time for all!

Submitted by
: Rick Adams, Volunteer & Member, OLLI at California State University Long Beach

OLLI at University of Denver
Keeping up with Member Growth
Although each Osher Institute is unique in many ways, one challenge OLLIs have in common is how to keep up with the growing population of lifelong learners!  In 2012, OLLI at the University of Denver (DU) realized the size of this challenge. Using the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) growth projections for "the OLLI population" in the Denver metro area, the Vision 2020 committee began to understand that growth of 10-15% year-over-year was a real possibility it was, is, and continues to be! After successfully operating OLLI at DU for 22 years as a multi-site program, it used the awareness of this data to make new plans for growth.
This awareness produced initiatives to open three new OLLI sites in three metro areas under the OLLI at DU umbrella:
  • OLLI-on-Campus, utilizing academic experience and resources at the University of Denver main campus;
  • OLLI East, located in Aurora, Colorado, a decidedly more diverse location than the other OLLI-at-DU sites;
  • OLLI Boulder, launched just one year ago.
These launches have provided OLLI at DU with several consistent understandings. These include:
  • The need to build an "OLLI awareness" in each location. This awareness assists greatly in understanding some of the core tenets of what an OLLI site provides and its guiding principles;
  • The value of access to academic experience. Launching OLLI-on-Campus and OLLI Boulder (close to the University of Colorado) was much easier in terms of obtaining instructors and members;
  • Diversity is best grown organically. Although the city of Aurora has a very diverse population, those attending OLLI tended to be of a homogenous background (education and professional levels). Attempts to "fit" a more diverse community into the OLLI-at-DU mold have not proven to be successful. A new strategy is now in place for collaborations rather than targeting integrations;
  • Based upon the financial model utilized by OLLI at DU, it takes several years for a site to become financially self-sustaining, thus affecting the timing of site launches;
  • The need for a cadre of committed volunteers many months before the actual launch of a new site;
  • The very real concern with growing beyond the volunteer base, especially when utilizing peer or volunteer instructors who provide the course leadership that OLLI members enjoy.
OLLI at DU expects to open additional sites in coming years. At this time, the program is growing into its new sites, gathering additional learnings and focusing on developing volunteers and course offerings. The Institute now includes 3,234 members, representing a 14% increase net of normal attrition, and is proud to be serving more Coloradans than ever with its Osher program.
Submitted by: Barbe Ratcliffe, Executive Director, OLLI at University of Denver

OLLI at University of Connecticut
Podcasting "Adulthood and Aging"
Every Fall semester, OLLI at University of Connecticut works with Human Development and Family Studies Professor Dr. Laura Donofrio on her service-learning class, "Adulthood and Aging". For several years, Dr. Donofrio has teamed up with OLLI in leading one-of-a-kind intergenerational service learning opportunities. "Adulthood and Aging" features students' findings and reflections on their involvement with OLLI and life-long learning. In previous years, these experiences have included undergraduates working at the OLLI garden, attending classes, and interviewing members. And although it was always a positive experience, it had become very complex to manage. That's why this year, Professor Donorfio, with her teaching assistant, Taylor Wheeler, and the OLLI team brainstormed to find a more streamlined experience based on feedback from students.
The brain-storming resulted in more creative learning, as students worked on podcasts to demonstrate their shared experiences with OLLI members throughout the semester. Dr. Donofrio also generously invited OLLI students to be part of her undergraduate class throughout the semester, allowing for more intergenerational opportunities.
UConn students decided to create "An OLLI Minute": a podcast project in which they interview OLLI members about the meaning of lifelong learning. The undergraduate students then present their podcasts, and talk about the impact of their experiences at OLLI's "Café" (Café sessions are free lunchtime lectures open to all OLLI members). The OLLI audience was moved to laughter and tears by the presentations!
Taylor Wheeler said this about the experience: "As a teaching assistant it has been so rewarding to see the benefits of integrating OLLI into our service-learning course. Firsthand, I got to see the benefits of an intergenerational course and how well OLLI fit into our curriculum; each and every person involved was positively impacted and enlightened. With the focus on storytelling this semester, so many touching, emotional connections were made between OLLI members and UConn students, and I think our final OLLI Café was a beautiful accumulation of it all at the of the end of our semester".
The podcasts are available on OLLI at UConn's website homepage.
Submitted by: Fiona de Merell, Director, OLLI at University of Connecticut

Spaces and Places of OLLI SpacesAndPlaces
Clemson University
Walking through the doors of the Charles K. Cheezem Education Center, home of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Clemson University, one might almost believe they are walking into part of the University's campus, a major part of which was built in 1889. The doors and walls are high and adorned with intricate molding, the windows are tall, and the façade is brick. Despite its historic atmosphere, the 8,000 square-foot Cheezem Education Center is only eight years old.

The ground floor includes a professional kitchen where cooking classes are held, an auditorium that can accommodate up to 90 members, and a gathering room that functions as a coffee room, meeting space and lending library. On the second story, there are three smaller classrooms that can hold between 20 and 28 members, and an airy and bright art room that can hold 12. The Cheezem Center is decorated with original artwork donated to Clemson University by the Bank of America Corporate Art Program. The building is surrounded on three sides by ample parking spaces.

OLLI at Clemson University, established in 2002, was once housed in an office on campus, with 20 outpost learning locations throughout the region. In 2011, the Charles K. Cheezem Education Center was gifted to the Clemson University Real Estate Foundation for the use of the OLLI program. It is located in Patrick Square Town Center, part of a growing micro-community built to emulate small towns of the past. Patrick Square is a "Traditional Neighborhood Development", or a complete neighborhood or town which includes various housing types, common areas, well-connected streets and various amenities. It is located three miles from the Clemson University campus.

Patrick Square Town Center includes professional offices, a medical building, a daycare facility, a boutique hotel and several restaurants, all within easy walking distance. Additionally, it hosts the city's farmers market and occasional special events. OLLI has become an integral part of Patrick Square Town Center, partnering with restaurants to offer discounts to members, and holding member events in the community hotel's ballroom and on its lawn.

OLLI at Clemson recognizes that the Center can be used to support worthy causes in the surrounding region. Through the Clemson OLLI Community Partner Program, local non-profits have free use of the building, provided these organizations commit to teaching three courses to members per year and make a small donation to the OLLI program. The courses, taught by non-profit leaders, provide additional learning opportunities to members, as well as opportunities for the non-profit representatives to raise awareness of their mission.

With a membership of around 1,450, members have felt free to make the Cheezem Education Center their own. Members donated funds to replace carpeting in the building. The Center is full of personal touches, from the random assortment of coffee mugs donated to the Gathering Room to the copies of a Ron Rash novel "looking for a new home".

The head of a stuffed tiger (a representative of Clemson University's mascot) sits in the front office, crowned with a sparkling tiara. This adornment, resembling Miss America's winning crown, is available for members to wear on their birthdays. Members bring in their family dogs for a treat and a scratch behind the ears, and sit to read in the Gathering Room, where the coffee is free and seating is comfy. Looked at in a certain light, the Cheezem Education Center is not merely a building where courses are given to adults curious about the finer points of Brexit or wishing to improve their composting skills. OLLI at Clemson is a place to meet with friends, a safe place to nurture creative pursuits, and most of all, a place that feels like home.

Want to see your own distinctive "Space or Place" in this newsletter? Please send it to oshernrc@northwestern.edu.

An Advice Column for Osher Institute Staff and Volunteers
dearolliDear Olli
Dear Olli,
I am on a committee exploring volunteer leadership development. We would like to know if there are other OLLIs that utilize a leadership development and training program.
~OLLI Board Member
Dear OLLI Board Member,
Great question! It is critical that volunteer leaders understand their roles, responsibilities, and purpose. As a result, there are many OLLIs that employ leadership training to assist in successful volunteering. These training programs run the range from multi-session leadership classes to single event workshops. The sessions vary from general volunteer leadership training to the specific responsibilities and qualities of OLLI leadership roles. Leadership programming can provide a great opportunity to help ensure the success of volunteers but also act as a recruitment tool. Additionally, there are OLLIs that use mentoring programs - senior volunteer leaders mentoring future OLLI leaders. Finally, a large amount of OLLIs have created and use volunteer handbooks. These handbooks contain not only policy and procedure information, but can also provide direction on how to be effective as a volunteer. The big takeaway here is clarity - training, direction, and development provide a clear understanding of a volunteer's role. The better a volunteer understands their purpose, the more opportunity they have to be successful.

Have a question for Olli? Please send it in care of Kevin Connaughton (kevin.connaughton@northwestern.edu). 

Educational Travel Ideas from the OLLI Network
The OLLI Traveler OlliTraveler
OLLI at The Pennsylvania State University
Northern Italy: Florence, The Riviera & Bolzano
Highlights of this trip include Florence, Santa Margherita Ligure, Pisa, Portofino, Bolzano, Lake Garda, The Dolomites, Verona, and Padua. This trip is open to members of all OLLIs with code GG0-3030.  Learn more about this trip to Northern Italy.
Dates: May 5-19, 2020

OLLI at Granite State College
Spain and Portugal In Depth
Travel to Spain, a country that conjures images of whitewashed villages,
bullrings, the fiery flamenco and the strum of the guitar. Then visit Portugal,  which recalls bold explorers, colorful ceramics and close ties to the  sea. Included are 10 guided tours and 2 exclusive discovery series events.  This 15-day trip is open to members of all OLLIs and can be extended with visit to Barcelona and/or five nights in  Madeira, Portugal. Learn More about this trip to Spain and Portugal by c alling Grand Circle Travel 1-800-221-2610. Booking Code GO-27564. Learn more about this trip to Spain and Portugal.
Dates: October 14-28, 2020

OLLI at California State University Fullerton
Alaska Denali Explorer Cruise
This trip consists of a cruise up the Inside Passage from Vancouver to Anchorage, then travel by train and bus from Anchorage to Fairbanks, with 4 days spent in the Denali Natl. Park region. The cruise portion includes stops at Juneau, Skagway and a native Tlingit village at Icy Strait Point, as well as a day spent cruising in Glacier Bay Natl. Park with a Natl. Park ranger providing commentary, and another day cruising the College Fjord, also with spectacular glaciers and wildlife.  On the land portion, we will be able to travel by bus deep into Denali Natl Park, viewing lots of wildlife as well as the amazing mountain.  In Fairbanks, we will learn about dog sledding and raising caribou, among other things, and will be able to visit the excellent Museum of the North at the Univ. of Alaska.  Learn more about this trip to Alaska .
Dates: August 26-September 8, 2020

Quick Tips for Helping Operate an Osher Institute
didyouknowQuick Tip - Finding the Best Price on Domestic Airline Tickets
With the 2020 Osher Institutes annual conference coming up in April, the Osher NRC often gets questions about the best time to purchase airline tickets. While the NRC always recommends waiting until the opening of registration (beginning January 6th) so that individuals have all the necessary details, CheapAir.com's 5th Annual Airfare Study reveals that the prime booking window is about four months to three weeks in advance of a flight. "T he data shows that the lowest airfares tend to pop up about 4 months to 3 weeks in advance of your travel dates. Fares in this zone are within 5% of their lowest point." This would suggest that conference attendees can find the best airfare prices when booking between January 20th and March 30th. Check out the study for more details.

Career Openings in the OLLI Network
jobboardJob Board
OLLI Program Director

Program Coordinator - OLLI 

Director - Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Northwestern University
Link not yet available, contact Steve Thaxton steve.thaxton@northwestern.edu for information.

Operations Manager - OLLI

Executive Staff Assistant - OLLI

Is there a staff opening at your Osher Institute? Please send it to us at  oshernrc@northwestern.edu