Several years ago my neighbor, an elderly retired gentleman named Don, handed me a stack of typed pages, all wrinkled and yellowed. “Would you be willing to read this and let me know what you think?” he asked. Reluctantly, I agreed.
I put off reading those pages as long as I could, but finally started reading his little essay. Well, I couldn’t put it down. It was his childhood memories of growing up in downtown Los Angeles. As I read, I became captivated by his use of language, the plotting, rhythm and cadence, and of course, the story itself. This unpretentious old man had led a wonderful life that he brilliantly shared on paper. It was his life adventure and he was the hero.
I eventually retired too and joined OLLI to pursue several age-old interests. Motivated by Don’s example, I enrolled in the “Memoir Writing” class only to learn that Don, now deceased, had been a member of the same class!
The students are encouraged, but not required, to write one or two pages each week to read to the class. Feedback is helpful and criticism is gentle. Classmates share from their hearts about their childhoods, families, friends, hardships, tragedies, struggles, turning points and successes. Each memoir is unique.
As I began writing about my own life, a familiar saga unfolded. Just like Don, I was the hero of my story.
Day to day operation of OLLI may appear seamless to many members but there are approximately 200 volunteers
behind the scenes working toward a smoother process. Not only are the instructions and coaches all volunteers, but the governing council and working group members are too. Here are just a few examples of what they accomplish:
• Develop computer and non-computer class curriculum
• Maintain and upgrade technology equipment in classrooms and in the computer lab
• Plan special events
Let’s meet some of those volunteers:
is a long-time OLLI member serving on the Education Group. The curriculum sub-committee recently launched a program where group members attend classes conducted by new instructors to assure that they have the tools and information they need. Donna was the first to volunteer to be a new instructor “buddy.” She believes it is important for new OLLI instructors to receive the support they need to succeed and bring exciting classes to OLLI members.
is in the Technology Group and has been a volunteer at OLLI for well over 10 years. He is a retired secondary school teacher and an accomplished photographer. He taught a very popular class on digital photography until smart phones took over from the digital camera. He still teaches a class now and then and also works in the computer lab helping to keep the equipment clean and in good working order. He can often be found at Friday “open lab” helping OLLI members with special
projects. Larry enjoys working with people and keeping up with technology. He likes the flexibility of volunteering at OLLI and takes the summer session off to spend more time with family.
and his wife, Bernadette, are long-time OLLI members. At one time, John was chairman of the Membership Committee. They travel a lot– and I mean a lot –so he likes the flexibility he has as an OLLI Volunteer. He is in the Member Services group and helps with quarterly distribution of The SUN. If they are in town when it is time to distribute The SUN, John helps package and delivers it to about 50 community groups. See, it’s easy. Maybe there is a volunteer spot for you too!