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All Life is Learning - December 2021

Director's Note and In this Issue

Director's Note

This time of year...

This is the time of year when we are reminded how important it is to be philanthropic and thankful for our bounty. I love this time of year because it allows me to slow down and connect with family and friends. I also love this time of year because I give myself permission to splurge, eating all the desserts that are my holiday favorites. And I happily use this time of year to get lost in BET and Lifetime Christmas movies, albeit corny as they are.

I absolutely love this time of year, it allows me to reflect on my blessings more than normal. This year, I am reminded of how blessed I am to be part of OLLI at WMU, and how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to connect with our OLLI members and volunteers. Your love and commitment has sustained OLLI for almost 11 years! The past 20 months have been tumultuous for the entire world, but as a community of lifelong learners, you all have helped sustain OLLI, and together we persevered. Members, volunteers, OLLI and WMUx staff rose to the occasion by moving to online courses, and by forging ahead with the business of OLLI via committee meetings and hosting numerous OLLI events. We have experienced lifelong learning in ways that no one could have predicted, even if they had a crystal ball.

For me, this time of year is always special and I am reminded about how special each of you are to both OLLI at WMU and to me. I wish everyone a season filled with joy, happiness and abundant blessings!

Looking forward to OLLI at WMU's bright future,

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

Curriculum Updates

Winter/Spring 2022 registration

NOTE: The winter/spring course schedule will be available for viewing on the website in mid-December.

There will be limited "phone-in registration" for the Winter/Spring 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, please email OLLI 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.

  • View the steps to renew your membership and register for courses
    1. Go to the OLLI website – The courses will be available here for viewing prior to the registration start date of Tuesday, January 4 at 10 a.m. The "Add to Cart" button will not appear until registration begins.
    2. Click on the "Visit the OLLI at WMU course catalog to get started" link.
    3. There are three places for offerings: "Membership," "Courses," and "SIGs and Special Offerings." Courses are broken up by month. Events are listed under SIGs and Special Offerings.
    4. Registration opens Tuesday, January 4 at 10 a.m. for winter/spring; you may shop these three categories and click on "Add to Cart" for any you would like.
    5. When you are done shopping, click on the "Cart" link in the gold bar across the top of the home page.
    6. If the items are correct in the cart, you may "Check Out." It will then tell you that you need to "Sign In."
    7. If you are already an OLLI member or previous registrant, you will "Sign Into an Existing Account." You already have a "username;" if you do not know what it is, email Joyce at or the OLLI office at, and we can resend it to you.
    8. If you know your username and password, enter them and "Sign In."
    9. If you do not know your password, choose "Reset My Password." A temporary password will be sent to the email we have connected to your account.
    10. Sign in with your username and the temporary password. It will ask you to type in the new password that you will be keeping twice. Once it says the password has been changed, sign in to the "existing user" again using your same username and the new password. There is an excellent video of this on our registration home page.
    11. Complete the payment steps. Once you submit your credit card information, wait until it is complete before closing your browser.
    12. You will receive an email confirmation saying that you are registered. If you do not receive this email, email Joyce or the OLLI office at the email addresses above.

Course Spotlight

In the Air Zoo: Rocketry – Getting to the Moon course, the Air Zoo’s Erin Lewis gave us a wonderful history lesson about U.S. space flight, then led us in completing our rockets and launching them with much fun and laughter. Thanks, Erin, for your time, enthusiasm, and deep love of your subject!  Photos provided by Martha Beverly.


OLLI Cares: Fill-a-Trunk 

OLLI at WMU was proud to host our second OLLI Cares Fill-A-Trunk event on October 23. Once again, it was a great success! Events committee members joined community organizations with open car trunks to accept donations. It created an easy way for donors to simply drive up and drop off their donations. Gifts came from so many of you! It truly represented the care that OLLI members have for our community. In addition to the generous donations from OLLI members listed below, over $2,100 in monetary donations were raised the day of the event and through the websites.

Seven organizations participated. Here is a list of the organizations and the type of donations they received.

  • Ministry with Community received gloves, underwear, shirts, winter hats and gloves, coats and jackets, and personal care items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, razors, and washcloths, for a total of 383 items. We are extremely grateful for all the high-need items we received!

    Matt Claus, Development Director

  • Kalamazoo Gospel Mission received such amazing and useful donations and was thrilled to receive blankets, hats and mittens, coats and even a ‘pack and play’ that has immediately been put to use.

    Tammy Clubb, Director of Development

  • Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center received toys and action play items for their child guests. New toys were donated which will be used as holiday gifts. The Center was so pleased to be part of this program for the second year!

    Beth Walters, Volunteer Coordinator

  • YWCA received diapers, baby wipes, personal care items, new towel sets, clothing and these items were put to immediate use in the domestic abuse program. We are so grateful to be a part of the event again this year.

    Emily Deering-Caruso, Development Manager

  • Kalamazoo Literacy Council was happy to receive file folders, notebooks, planners, pens, and pencils. All these items will assist learners to be fully prepared to learn in class.

    Lauren Kiesling, Health & Parent Literacy Navigator

  • Housing Resources Inc. received enough laundry soap for over 460 loads of laundry as well as much needed bottles of dish and hand soap. Thanks again! Please invite us again next year!

    Galyn Barnum, Director of Community Outreach

  • Seita Scholars Program joined this event for the first time this year. Our list of donations this year was awesome! This is a program for WMU students who have experienced foster care and are often in need of basic supplies. OLLI members donated personal hygiene products for personal care as well as laundry supplies. These items are distributed through different gift boxes or set out during the Winter and Summer Breaks for the students who remain on campus. Thank you so much OLLI, for allowing us to be a part of such a great event, and a Very Special Thank You to all of the generous donors. We are very grateful for all of the items that were donated to the Seita Scholars Program for our students here at Western Michigan University.

    Edward J. Lara, Campus Coach

OLLI Cares Fill -A -Trunk will return in October 2022. The impact that your donations have made to these organizations is extremely appreciated and makes a huge difference! Thank you for your support and do plan for next year!

Annual Membership Meeting Notes

Welcome to our new Advisory Board members, Dr. Douglass Davidson, Michael Evans, Cindy Miller Green, Sharayl Moore, Mary Kay Roberts, Gary Start, and Dr. Gillian Stoltman. Thank you for volunteering with OLLI at WMU!

Thank you...

  • to our retiring Advisory Board members, Carol Hodges, Randall Schau, and Ramona Lewis, for your countless volunteer hours serving on the Advisory Board. Although they are "retiring" from their Advisory Board positions, they will still be involved as OLLI volunteers serving on committees and volunteering in many other capacities.
  • to Dr. Edward Montgomery for his talk about the evolution of education and the importance of OLLI and lifelong learning.
  • to Dr. Toni Woolfork-Barnes for her presentation on the status of OLLI, the financial report, and her vision going forward.
  • to all the members who continue to support OLLI through your membership, and attending OLLI courses, trips, and events.
  • January 12 10 a.m.


Save the Date

OLLI Virtual January Showcase

 Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2022       Time: 10 a.m.       Location: Online via Webex

Watch for more information in the OLLI newsletter and on the website!

Membership and Marketing

The Gift of OLLI

'Tis the season... it's time to think about gifts for the holidays! What better gift to give than a membership to OLLI and One Day University? It's a wonderful way to pass the time indoors by watching lectures from outstanding local and national instructors, right from the comfort of home. Plus, the person receiving the membership can live anywhere in the world and still enjoy our online courses! OLLI is also happy to announce that the majority of winter/spring courses will be in a classroom, which is something many members have been waiting for.

To purchase a gift membership, contact the office at (269) 387-4157.

Share OLLI with a friend! Our newsletter is packed with interesting and important information, and we encourage readers to forward it to a neighbor, friend, or relative. Thank you!

OLLI at WMU Donor Challenge Match Grant

Thanks to a very generous donor, OLLI at WMU will be embarking upon its first ever donor challenge. Contributions to this year's annual appeal campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar!

WMU's Advancement Office will be mailing the annual year-end appeal letter in November. I am personally asking every person affiliated with OLLI at WMU to help us achieve 100% participation. Remember, OLLI benefits from your ongoing financial support through generous giving, course registration, and membership fees.

Please help make this our largest fundraising event to date! Again, keep your eyes open for the year-end appeal letter to arrive in your mailbox soon. We are deeply grateful to the donor for making this possible and thank you in advance for helping OLLI have a successful fundraising event!


Health and Wellness

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

Clearing up the Cholesterol Quandary

Reducing cholesterol or watching cholesterol is a common theme in the health club world. We have countless clients that have wanted to avoid cholesterol-reducing medications or want to stop taking cholesterol-reducing medications – both of which can be done through diet and exercise. Before we get to that, I like to get the buy-in. Why do we care? Here is why – cholesterol is fat in the bloodstream. If we have a lot of fat in the bloodstream, we are at an elevated risk of a variety of coronary events, such as heart attack or stroke. The fat in the blood builds a waxy plaque on the artery wall that narrows the passage of blood flow (atherosclerosis), thereby increasing the blood pressure on the artery wall, which is why high cholesterol is a risk factor for high blood pressure. You can start to see how the coronary risk factors can cascade quickly.

High cholesterol can be a genetic condition, regardless of lifestyle. Outside of a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, there are methods to reduce cholesterol through lifestyle. First, reduce cholesterol through diet. Cholesterol can only be found in animal products. If it did not have a mother, it does not have any cholesterol. Therefore, a 6 oz. skinless/boneless/grilled chicken breast has more cholesterol (100 mg) than ten pounds of peanut butter or McDonald’s french-fries (zero mg). Yet another reason why Mom always wanted us to eat our veggies. It is generally recommended that we shoot for 200-300 mg of cholesterol per day for optimum health.

Cholesterol can be improved through exercise. Weightlifting and aerobic exercise have been shown to increase the High-density Lipoprotein (HDL), which is the good one. It is good because it functions to filter the fat from the blood, carrying it back to the liver for elimination. Conversely, the Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL), is the bad one. It is generally elevated through consuming saturated fats, such as red meat or full fat dairy, and is the culprit for the waxy plaque buildup. All this to say, the ratio of your total cholesterol to HDL is the most important number. Your doctor will take your total cholesterol divided by your HDL to get a ratio. If your ratio is 3.5 or lower, then you are not at risk of a coronary event because of your cholesterol. Adding HDL, LDL, and triglycerides (another type of fat molecule) determines our total cholesterol number. It is generally recommended by medical professionals to keep your total cholesterol at 200 or lower. If you exercise regularly, and have elevated HDL, you can feasibly have a 300 cholesterol with an 85 HDL, and not be at risk.


  • January 15 2022

Introduction to Amateur Astronomy

Kalamazoo Astronomical Society's five-part Introduction to Amateur Astronomy lecture series returns on January 15th. If you're new to amateur astronomy and the KAS, this is the ideal program to participate in! It covers everything from reading simple star maps, binoculars, telescopes, and astrophotography.

Now You Know

Baby, it's cold outside!

In the month of December, we remember to celebrate Hannukah, Christmas, and Kwanza in good spirits. This month is also special because many start the month off with World AIDS day, meant to fight against HIV and spread awareness and support for those still living with it. Do not forget to wear your red ribbon! This month also spreads awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of various substances and to remind people to drive safely during this wonderful time. Best of all, this month celebrates special education, uplifting kids who are disabled and children with special needs. They struggled the hardest during the pandemic and made it through the year! Congratulations!

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.