As I wrote these words last January,
I could not rid my mind of the senseless loss of life that scarred our new year. It recalled the tragic fictional character of Chauvin in nineteenth century French literature. He was a patriotic, idealistic, and well meaning but naive soldier of the French Empire.
Chauvin represents us. We try to defend our values, our heritage, the habits we grew up with. The good soldier Chauvin believed what he was told and learned obedience, respect for authority, and the enduring truth of what he was taught. Chauvin could be our model citizen, the one we are taught to be, the good neighbor who knows right from wrong, good from bad, and friend from enemy. We soon recognize that our families, our friends, our nations, our cultures, and ourselves, are not always easily set into neat categories. Our world gives us the stranger, the unfamiliar, the comforting, and the discomforting.
I respect and resemble Chauvin. I love my traditions, my culture. And I will defend them. But I am also reminded that we are called to help heal the world and to love and care for what the world has given us.
Now in April, when many cultures and religious traditions rejoice in the season of spring (even in Southern California), we sense how the earth renews everything. We learn from the earth that when stale ideologies have run their course, we must make our garden grow. As we gather at OLLI for our new Spring Session of lifelong learning and rediscover our old classmates and welcome new OLLI members, please remember to rejoice in our continuing adventure of renewal and discovery together.
A reflection on 2014. As spring arrives, we look back with gratitude to our members and friends of OLLI who supported our annual fundraiser this past fall. As you recall, we received $8,500 in challenge funds from two local organizations, Housing Opportunities for the Elderly and Long Beach Cares, along with a generous gift from one of our members. Our 2014 fundraising was to support our scholarship fund. We are pleased to announce that, in addition to the $8,500 challenge, we raised $12,538 to meet and exceed our goal and arrived at a total of $21,083. We received contributions from over 160 OLLI members and friends. Every contributor has received a letter expressing our gratitude for their continued support of OLLI goals and programs.
We believe that OLLI should be available to everyone interested in lifelong learning. As OLLI grows, so does the interest in scholarship consideration. Through our application process, we award annual membership and tuition for a limited number of lecture and/or computer classes, with a small co-pay, to those on limited incomes. In the past year, we awarded $4,060 in scholarship to 110 eligible individuals. With the amount we have added to the fund through your generosity we should be able to sustain our scholarship program for the next 3 to 5 years. Thank you for paying it forward!
We would like to thank the co-chairs of the OLLI Development Committee, Jody Ramsey and
Dennis Youkstetter, for their support of our fundraising efforts over the past several years. We value their enthusiasm and dedication to OLLI sustainability.