All Life is Learning - February 2023

Director's Note and In this issue

Director's Note

Calling on You to Volunteer as a Class Liaison!

Before the pandemic we had many volunteers who served in the capacity of Class Liaisons. Now that we have returned to campus, we want to once again ask you to please volunteer as a liaison. All you have to do is send me a quick email with Class Liaison in the subject line and let me know you are willing to volunteer. Or call the office (269) 387-4157 and let us know.

What does a Class Liaison do? I heard you asking…Class Liaisons are already registered for a course. Once you indicate you are willing to serve, we will send you a list of everyone else registered in the course. 

Specifically, we ask liaisons to:

  • Welcome and thank everyone for joining the course.
  • Ensure that everyone is registered for the course; if someone is not registered, take their name and phone number and share that information with the OLLI staff.
  • Introduce the title of the course and the instructor.
  • Remind everyone to complete their course evaluations.

Please join us as a Class Liaison and help make the OLLI experience better for our OLLI members! If you have questions, please contact me at or (269) 387-4157.

Thank you for your consideration,

Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D.

Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU 


CORRECTION: Please note the correct time for the Experiencing Dance at WMU OLLI course is 5:30 to 7:30 pm on the same day, Tuesday, February 8.

We continue our registration for our Winter/Spring courses and the course schedule is available for viewing on the website! 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. 

There is still time to register for the following February courses and you can visit our website for the specific dates and times these courses are offered:  

  • Environmental Justice
  • Learn to Make Cyanotypes
  • The Biggest Village in the USA: Kalamazoo History through 1884
  • Internet of Things
  • Is an Electric Car Right for Me?
  • Experiencing Dance at WMU
  • Tai Chi: Increasing Harmony and Energy (Intermediate Class)
  • 7+ Life Lessons from Chaos
  • A History of Racism – An Experiential Journey via the Power of Film
  • An American Family Experiences China: 1910-1923
  • Air Zoo: Women in Air and Space
  • Justice, Equity, and the Human Experience
  • Love & Samba: A Musical Journey to Brazil
  • Getting the Last Word: Obituary Writing Basics
  • The Amazing Wright Brothers

Membership & Marketing

Be My OLLI Valentine!

What better way to show your love of OLLI than by giving a membership to someone you’re close to? Just call the office at (269) 387-4157 and they'll take it from there. If your friends already belong to OLLI, encourage them to take a course with you—and maybe enjoy lunch together while you're out and about, too!

Happy Valentine's Day from your Membership and Marketing volunteer committee. 

Reminders for the 2023 Winter/Spring semester

OLLI Cancellations, Withdrawals and Refunds – please refer to the digital OLLI catalog for our policies related to cancellations, withdrawals and refunds. We understand that from time-to-time, there are things that come up; however, please be reminded of the policies that are in place to fully support the operations of OLLI at WMU. 

WMU Winter Closure – Western rarely closes or delays classes for winter weather conditions, so OLLI courses will always be held when the University is open. Closure notifications can be found via the WMU homepage, area and radio television stations or the WMU emergency information phone line at (269) 387-1001


Looking Ahead to OLLI CARES Fill-A-Trunk in May

First, a BIG THANK YOU to our members, instructors and guest speaker Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten for making our January Thaw event so successful! Now as we look ahead to spring, we want to highlight the organizations that OLLI members can support at our upcoming Fill-A-Trunk event in May. Next month, we’ll spotlight two more local organizations that will be joining us.

Since 1990, the Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center has offered free, part-time childcare for income-eligible families so that parents can get to critical appointments for employment, housing, etc. 

Serving some of the most vulnerable members of our community, Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries offers emergency services from shelter to meals and clothing along with long-term programming, advocacy and support. 


Thanks to our Evaluation Committee Chair, Molly Williams, for her hard work semester after semester for creating our thorough and comprehensive evaluation reports, and to new volunteer Laura VanVlack, who assisted the Assessment and Evaluation efforts by compiling participant responses from each course. 

Below are excerpts from the fall 2022 Summative Evaluation Report. As in previous years, each course was followed by a survey (via the SurveyMonkey platform) distributed to each registrant to gather their feedback about the course and to provide an opportunity for suggestions. Typical response rates were around 50%.

The OLLI Curriculum Committee works to ensure a range of popular class topics.  This past semester, there were 569 enrollments, with the largest classes (about 40 participants) on popular culture, social issues, and the arts. At the same time, several very small classes with enrollments fewer than 10 illustrate the challenge for the Curriculum Committee to select class topics that will be of most interest to OLLI members. There were two classes with enrollments of only two. However, the instructors were still willing to offer the course to the registrants. 

Generally, participants continue to rate OLLI’s courses highly. There was very little difference among the numerical ratings of different courses, indicating a nearly uniform and high quality of instruction reflected in the table below.

Thanks again to the Evaluation Committee for their comprehensive report!  

Wellness Moment

Secrets to Vitality Series 

Introducing Regina Buckner… 

Regina with her trainer Mike Wolfe

I have had the pleasure of knowing Regina for nearly three years as a member of West Hills. She is a retired WMU librarian in her mid-seventies, and lives with more vitality than any 20-year-old I know. The overarching theme that I took away from our interview is that she is a seeker. She is perpetually seeking to learn new things, to better herself daily, and to help others. 

Talking with Regina reminds me of the Franklin Covey habit #7: Sharpen the Saw. She wasn’t happy to simply accept the effects of aging and the limits they can place on an individual. I remember in her initial consultation she commented on her declining energy and was looking for an exercise program that would restore her motivation to attack the day. When I see her now, waiting for her workout with her trainer Mike Wolfe, she’s bouncing from one foot to the other like a boxer getting ready for a fight. Her energy has been restored and then some! 

Being the librarian that she is, she prepared some notes for our interview that she shared with me. So instead of paraphrasing her words, I decided to include her secrets to vitality in her own words. Besides, she’s a better writer than I am. 

In Regina’s words – 

“My Life’s Continued Vitality is sourced by: 

My Faith is precious and vital to me – and is the basic belief for how I live. It sustains me and brings me hope. My Faith, however, does not own all the responsibility for my commitment to it; I readily accept I must practice it, giving my time and energy to it. Within this context, I record my daily gratitude, recognizing I have so much for which to be grateful! 

I have several mantras by which I live: 

  • Offer assistance to others in small or large ways, offering my time and financial support to causes/organizations I believe in. 
  • Routinely feed my soul through meaningful activities, such as viewing and acknowledging the beauty around me, through inspiring or unique readings and activities that bring a new awareness and initiating greetings and interactions. 
  • Never stop learning, trying something new or different often and being curious in all things, seeking the why, what, and how. 
  • Don’t just follow others – do things differently within reason. 
  • Take daily care of myself by getting enough sleep, stretching, and doing core exercises like Yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi. 
  • Be prepared for physical challenges that have not been active in my life to this point, such as my balance, eyesight, and hearing, understanding I will have a new “normal.” 

She later elaborates on the value of her nutrition and exercise program, her personal trainer, West Hills community, and her family in her life and living with vitality. She is a member of OLLI and the Optimists, follows the Optimist creed, and doesn’t think of herself as old. She ran her first 5K last fall admitting she walked at times but still had the determination to finish! That makes you an athlete Regina, and thanks for the inspiration!  

Regina works on her posture and her balance
simultaneously with a rear-deltoid extension
while standing on an unstable foam surface

Other Volunteer and Event Opportunities

USA Curling

2023 USA Curling Mixed Doubles National Championship

The Kalamazoo Curling Club will be hosting the US National Championships again from February 28 to March 5 (4th time in 12 years). A number of the "volunteer slots" do not require any curling knowledge. Each volunteer shift is about 4 hours. Contact Marcus Gleat if interested in this unique opportunity. 

OLLI members are also invited to attend the USA Curling Mixed Doubles National Championship. The top curlers in the United States will be there, including the 2018 Olympic champions, John Shuster and Matt Hamilton. They usually bring their gold medals with them! Below is a picture of Marcus Gleat, founding member of the Kalamazoo Curling Club, with one of the champions the last time they hosted nationals in 2019.  

It’s a lot of fun, so spread the word! The Kalamazoo Curling Club would love it if a bunch of OLLI folks came out to support the event! For more information and to purchase tickets click here

OLLI at WMU on Facebook

Do you follow us on Facebook? Connect with us, “Like” our page, and then visit regularly for information and announcements about different OLLI, WMU and Community events and programs. This is a great way to stay connected and we love to see your comments on our page!

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.