Sunny day at Miller Fountain on campus

All Life is Learning - August 2022

Director's Note

Director's Note

Happy August! 

Thank you to everyone who has already renewed their membership for the 2022-2023 program/fiscal year. By renewing your membership early, we reached our goal of 500 members for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which means we met the Osher Foundation expectation for our Osher Institute! 

The OLLI membership fee is $35 until September 1 of this year. If you have not had the opportunity to renew your membership, now is the time to renew. Being an OLLI member allows you to register for OLLI courses at a discount and to also receive a discount on travel. Of course, there are other benefits, which includes having access to excellent OLLI instructors and connecting with OLLI members who have a passion for lifelong learning.

To renew your membership, please visit the OLLI website or feel free to call the office at (269) 387-4157 for assistance to obtain your 2022-2023 membership. Also remember, the gift of an OLLI membership is a wonderful way to share OLLI with family and friends.

Here’s to the OLLI 2022-2023 membership year!

New Faces in the OLLI Office

The OLLI office is fortunate to have two new staff members – Ms. Demetra Lafayette and Ms. Kim Olson. Although both are temporarily working with OLLI until we hire someone permanently, they have already been a tremendous asset. Please help me welcome them to our OLLI family! As you can imagine, the learning curve can be steep, but they are not letting that interfere with the operations of the office or the attentive way they respond to OLLI members. They have jumped right in to ensure continued OLLI operations in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, and most importantly serving our OLLI members with excellence every day. If you have an opportunity, please welcome Demetra and Kim!

Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D. 
Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

In this Issue:

Membership and Marketing

Luck is yours - don't miss out!

We are indeed lucky to have the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute as part of Western Michigan University.  We are lucky to exercise our brains by attending stimulating courses. We are lucky to socially connect with people in courses, at events, and on trips. And lucky for us that the membership dues for 2022-2023 stay at $35 until September 1st!   

What other lucky things await OLLI members?  

  • Discount of 25% for most events at the Gilmore Theatre Complex
  • Discount of 15% for most events at Miller Auditorium 
  • Discount of 10% for most items at the WMU Bookstore
  • Enrollment fee waived at West Hills Athletic Club
  • Access to Special Interest Groups which are member directed
  • Member-only events and tours

And you are lucky to have all of August 2022 to activate your membership at the $35 rate. After that it will be $50 so don’t let your luck run out!

Share OLLI!

Do you belong to an organization with members who might be interested in OLLI? This might include retiree groups, professional organizations, and religious groups. If you would be willing to bring information about OLLI, such as the fall course mailer, to a group you attend, please contact the OLLI office at (269) 387-4157, and we will gladly make a personal delivery to your residence. Thank you for helping spread the good news about OLLI!


Fall 2022 Registration is Around the Corner

The fall course schedule is available for viewing on the website now! Please note that there will be limited "phone-in registration" for the Fall 2022 semester. Registering online is the quickest way to secure your spot for the courses you want to take. If you need assistance when registering online, email us at or call (269) 387-4157. Please leave a voicemail if we cannot answer – we will see it in our email. 

If you have already renewed your membership, thank you! We know that a number of you will renew your membership along with your course registrations.

Calling All Archaeology Lovers!

Have you registered for the Can You Dig It? Tour of the WMU Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Dig Site yet? There is still room available in the course, which will meet on Saturday, August 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the rain date is Sunday, August 7. Click here to register!

Class Liaisons Needed

We invite you to volunteer as a class liaison or an online course moderator! As life returns to “normal” and more courses are face-to-face, we would like to welcome individuals to serve as course liaisons. And since online courses are here to stay, we want volunteers to serve as moderators as well. 

The role of the Course Liaisons and Online Course Moderators will include:

  • Being registered in the course for which you will serve as liaison
  • Doing brief welcome and introduction of the course and the instructor
  • Taking attendance
  • Facilitating discussions, monitoring the chat for questions, and sharing those questions with the instructor (for online courses only)
  • Reminding everyone to complete the survey following the course
  • Thanking everyone for attending the course 
  • Providing brief announcements as appropriate

If you are interested, please send an email to Toni at or Demetra at and let us know which course you would like to serve as liaison or moderator. 


The Travel Committee is delighted to report that we successfully completed our first post-pandemic trip! We brushed off the rusty bolts of our OLLI travel machine, cranked up the fun and laughter, and were thrilled to see the smiling faces of both new and ever-faithful OLLI travelers. Our upcoming trip to Coldwater to enjoy the classic play “Barefoot in the Park” is scheduled for August 3 and will provide another fun day for OLLI Travel!

Next, on September 14, we will travel to Grand Rapids to tour the Meyer May Frank Lloyd Wright house, located in the historic Heritage Hill neighborhood. In addition, we will receive a docent-led tour of the unique art created by Michigan artist Mathais Alten at the GVSU art gallery in downtown Grand Rapids. 

  • September 14, 2022

The details and the sign-up information for this trip on September 14 are included in this newsletter and are also on the OLLI website. Trip registration must be completed 30 days prior to the trip date in order to ensure that we meet the minimum number of participants required to reserve the bus, so sign up early and bring a friend. Registration already began on June 20, so don’t delay!

As we are sure everyone is aware, the cost of everything has increased and, unfortunately, our trips are no exception. The cost to charter the bus has significantly increased, but your travel committee is working hard to keep our trips fun, educational, and most of all, affordable. 

Looking ahead, watch for upcoming information on our goal of seeing some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings that will be on display at the DIA beginning in October. Check your calendars and sign up soon!

To register, call AAA Nebraska directly at (402) 390-1000, press 1 from the menu and enter 203 for Dave or 204 for Michelle. The mailing address for AAA Nebraska is 815 N 98th St, Omaha NE 68114.

  • $131 for members

  • $146 for non-members

  • August 10 registration deadline

  • 25 capacity limit

Moderate – This type of trip involves moderate walking, and some stairs as may be experienced touring museums and historical buildings. Trips might include walking a mile in addition to touring venues. Multiple boarding/exiting the bus may be required.


  • October 22 1 - 3 p.m.

OLLI Cares – Fill A Trunk

 Date: Saturday, October 22       Time: 1 - 3 p.m.       Location: Fetzer Center

  • November 16 2 - 4 p.m.

OLLI Annual Meeting

 Date: Wednesday, November 16       Time: 2 - 4 p.m.       Location: Fetzer Center


Watch for more information as details are available in the OLLI newsletter, the OLLI website, and the OLLI Facebook page

Taste of OLLI 2022 – A Feast for Your Brain

Our first in-person event since the pandemic was a major success! We were honored to have Amanda Rhoades, Associate Director, National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, as our speaker this year. There were opportunities to talk to 16 instructors about the 18 courses they will teach during our fall semester, participate in breakout sessions to experience a “taste” of some of our OLLI courses, and visit OLLI volunteer committee tables to learn what they do. AND these were the lucky door prize winners!

Joan Robertson, Celebration Cinema

Pat MacQueen, Celebration Cinema

Christopher Hodshire, Bob’s Discount Furniture

Martha Beverly, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Dave Chadderdon, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Brenda Earhart, WMU Alumni Association

Sue Harris, WMU Alumni Association

Connie Provost, NRC Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

Marcia Gray-Ford, NRC Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

Pam Miller, River Street Flowerland

We are looking forward to Taste of OLLI 2023!

Please save the date for our Annual Meeting, which is planned for November 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Fetzer Center. More information will be shared in future newsletters.

Wellness Moment

Tyler Norman, Ph.D.
Manager of Corporate Outreach
ACSM Exercise Physiologist
NCFI Corporate Fitness Specialist
West Hills Athletic Club, WMU

Three Common Fixes for Chronic Low-back Pain

If you are an adult, you have likely experienced chronic lower back pain, or know someone who has. When I was 33 years old (MANY years ago), I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) which came with severe lower back pain. I tried a variety of remedies, including anti-inflammatory medication, electrical impedance, chiropractic treatments, massage, and the list goes on. NONE of that worked. Want to know what did?

Hamstring Flexibility: Back when I was 33, I was more interested in heavy weightlifting than stretching. To stretch was a little uncomfortable and not as fun as lifting weights, so my hamstrings were about as flexible as leather straps. Knowing that the hamstrings innervate with the lower back, if the hamstrings are more pliable and flexible, they have a better ability to handle the stress of day-to-day activities. A quick google search will provide some ideas on hamstring stretches. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines can be found here. The key takeaways are that daily stretching is the most effective frequency; stretch to the point of slight discomfort and hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

Abdominal Strength: Most people that work on their abdominal muscles are accustomed to doing hundreds and hundreds of repetitions. This is great if you want to have a toned midsection, but it does not improve our FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH. I have used this buzzword before. The idea here is knowing that our abdomen and lower back are in charge of keeping our upper torso upright, so if the abdominal muscles are proportionately weak, the lower back picks up the slack, which often results in inflammation. To strengthen the abdominal muscles, we treat them like any other muscle group. Resistance is required, like holding a weight while doing crunches, for example. By adding weight and reducing the repetitions, the abdominal muscles get stronger, which results in them carrying their fair share of upper body support.

Posture: As you all sit up straight (hint hint) as most people do at the mention of the word, bad posture will not only cause chronic lower back pain but will shorten your lifespan. By not maintaining good posture, the muscles in the back that are designed to support the spine are dis-engaged. Naturally, by dis-engaging the muscles that support the spine, more stress is absorbed by the spine itself, the vertebra, the discs that absorb shock, and the nerves that innervate throughout the spine. This state will naturally result in chronic inflammation and lower back pain. To remedy this, simply lift your chest a little, and pull your shoulders back a little, even when you are sitting and especially when you are at a desk or table. By doing so your back will be straight, and the muscles that were designed to support the spine are ENGAGED.

Honorable mention tip: Weight Management is worth mentioning because by managing bodyweight we manage the stress on our orthopedic system including knees, hips, ankles, and of course, spine. Losing weight will equal reduced stress on the spine, thereby reducing pain.


What is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute?

The program was initiated under the auspices of the WMU Emeriti Council and WMUx. OLLI offers intellectually lively and culturally appealing learning experiences. We accomplish this by focusing on intellectual stimulation, personal growth, social engagement and enrichment. Read more  


What do we do?

We offer short courses for one to four weeks. Sessions are usually two hours long. Travel programs are also a part of our offerings. There are no tests and no required homework, just exploring lots of interesting topics.

In the near future we will offer courses in different formats -- noon hour discussions, several sessions in one week, and more evening courses. OLLI courses and activities are developed and produced by its members with the support of the staff of WMUx.

We need your ideas for course topics and instructors. Let us know your suggestions. Call the OLLI office at (269) 387-4157 or send an email. The curriculum committee will review all suggestions.