Leaves in the grass with a light snow on them.

All Life is Learning - January 2022

Director's Note and In this Issue

Director's Note

This year we look forward to regaining momentum and re-building OLLI to pre-pandemic levels. We have several goals for the upcoming year, including keeping current members involved and engaged in courses, events, travel, and volunteer opportunities, intentionally focusing on growing our OLLI community through new memberships, and increasing fundraising efforts to help sustain our future.

This year, we look forward to regaining momentum and re-building OLLI to pre-pandemic levels. We have several goals for the upcoming year, including keeping current members involved and engaged in courses, events, travel and volunteer opportunities, intentionally focusing on growing our OLLI community through new memberships, and increasing fundraising efforts to help sustain our future.

Your ongoing support and participation are vital to this wonderful Institute, so, together, let’s plan to elevate OLLI and make 2022 the best year yet! Let’s use our loudest voices to talk about all of the wonderful benefits OLLI at WMU has to offer and invite others to join our community. We need you and look forward to your continued engagement. Thank you in advance!

Happy New Year!

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

Donor Matching Grant


There is still time to give.

As shared before, OLLI at WMU is in the midst of embarking upon its first ever donor challenge. Contributions to this year’s annual appeal campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Thank you again to our very generous donor!

WMU’s Advancement Office mailed 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 to date! We are deeply grateful to the donor for making this possible, and to those who have already donated. Thank you for helping OLLI have a successful Donor Challenge fundraising event.

Curriculum Updates

Winter/Spring 2022 registration

NOTE: The winter/spring course schedule is available for viewing on the website now!

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 wmu-olli@wmich.edu 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.

  • Below are steps to renew your membership and register for courses online:
    1. Go to the OLLI website – www.wmich.edu/olli/courses. 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 joyce.dekau@wmich.edu or the OLLI office at wmu-olli@wmich.edu, 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 link to reset your password will be sent to the email we have connected to your account.
    10. Click the link that is in the email and enter your new password (there are no longer temporary passwords to fill in). It will ask you to type in the new password that you will be keeping twice. Once it says the password has been changed, you are signed in and may proceed with your registration or payment.
    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.

Calling All Philosophers

Here is a great opportunity for OLLI Members and WMU students to share and discuss topics around philosophy. Dave Paul, chair of the department of philosophy and faculty specialist, is interested in partnering with OLLI and therefore has proposed OLLI members participate in one of his courses, “Readings in Existentialist Philosophy.” Here is the description: …

From The Book of Job to “Jung’s Answer to Job”, western philosophy has explored existence and the meaning of existence. Through readings from philosophers including Plato, Descartes, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre, OLLI members and WMU students will explore the deepest questions together in a facilitated dialogue.

OLLI members are asked to meet on January 18, February 8, March 1 and March 29 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. If interested, please email Toni at toni.woolfork-barnes@wmich.edu. This will be interesting and is a great way to connect and share with our current WMU students!


Please plan to virtually attend the January Curriculum Showcase. We want to thank the Curriculum and Events Committees for hosting this event. Our OLLI instructors are looking forward to sharing little snippets about the courses they will be teaching. Our speaker will be Mr. Danny Sledge, who will talk about Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and its relevancy today. Danny is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant as well as an Organizational Change Management Consultant. He is also a retired higher educational and hospital administrator.

You can register for the Showcase beginning on January 4. It is part of our SIGs and Special Offerings. Feel free to invite your friends and family; all are welcome!

  • January 12 10 a.m.


Save the Date

January Curriculum Showcase

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

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

Membership and Marketing

Exploring All That OLLI Has to Offer

If you're new to OLLI or just want to learn more about us, you are invited to attend a Webex presentation on Wednesday, January 5, at 10:30 a.m. Volunteers from the Membership and Marketing Committee will welcome you, then our OLLI Director Toni Woolfork-Barnes will take you on a tour of the online registration process. Invitations were sent to our newest members in mid-December, but if you'd like to attend and didn't receive that email, please call the OLLI office at (269) 387-4157 or email wmu-olli@wmich.edu.

Passionate about Literacy?

Want to help others with reading and writing? Become a tutor! If you can be available a minimum of two hours a week, you can make an impact on somebody’s entire life. 

The Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a nonprofit volunteer tutor organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of adults with low literacy skills through free classes and one-on-one tutoring designed to develop reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension. Through the council’s efforts we hope to also educate the public about the crisis of low literacy and bring together individuals with a common goal of making Kalamazoo County a fully literate community.

We teach learners in-person or online through our Virtual Learning Center. The free training will equip you with effective strategies for tutoring or teaching classes.

Winter programs include one-on-one tutoring and online classes in writing, basic computers, Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS), Citizenship, adult basic education (GED), Parent Literacy, and Health Literacy for native English speakers and English language learners.

We offer plenty of ongoing support through monthly forums, peer sharing, and more. The next tutor training session begins on January 13th. Learn more and sign up today!

Wellness Minute

Functional Training: The Hottest Trend in the Fitness Industry
By Tyler Norman, Ph.D. - Manager of Corporate Outreach - ACSM Exercise Physiologist
NCFI Corporate Fitness Specialist - West Hills Athletic Club, WMU

The modern retiree has a different definition of retirement than that of the “Greatest Generation”. I remember my Grandfather Harold playing a little golf and doing a little woodworking in the shop, but beyond that, he spent most of his time sitting. My “Baby Boomer” clients today want to be able to go kayaking, hike the Appalachian trail, go tubing with their grandchildren and be able to garden, without pain, until “the very end.” Is there a workout for that? Yes, and it was invented by Baby Boomers; it’s called FUNCTIONAL TRAINING. There are certain forms of exercise that can improve your sports performance known as sport-specific training. However, functional training is a form of exercise that improves your performance in everyday life. The day-to-day physical demands of whatever activity you enjoy can be performed with a lower degree of effort and strain with this popular form of exercise. I had a 77-year-old client who liked to go deer hunting and needed to incorporate a workout that prepared him to climb trees and haul hundreds of pounds out of the woods. Functional training was the answer. (Of course, my client was part of the “Silent Generation”, born between 1925 and 1945, but the Boomer’s rule applies to this group as well.)

Connie Mumford, M.D.
with Dre Ballines,
West Hills Fitness Director

The basic philosophy is to try to replicate the random physical circumstances we deal with on a day-to-day basis and then add other forms of stress. In doing so, you have prepared the body to perform the given task with greater stress than is generally called for, making the task seem easier. The generally accepted nucleus of functional training includes squats, lunges, deadlifts, pushing and pulling. Here’s an example: imagine the physical demand of starting your lawnmower. The function includes a pulling motion on an unbalanced plane and perhaps an uneven surface. This function can be replicated by standing on one leg, bending over and moving a dumbbell up and down – an exercise commonly known as a “one-legged dumbbell row”. There are countless examples and many variations of functional training that can be combined in one’s unique program to ensure variety and results. Many of the exercises will remind you of some of the old school exercises you may have done in your high school physical education class like the medicine ball, tug-of-war, jump rope and sledge hammer workouts that left everyone drenched in sweat. A professional trainer, of course, will adapt the content and the intensity of the workouts to your current fitness level and limitations which usually include some sort of orthopedic consideration. Aside from the ease at which you will do daily activities, other benefits include improved balance, posture, muscular strength, mobility (range of motion), quality of sleep and overall health. The side effects of those benefits include improved self-esteem and VITALITY! 

Tyler Norman guides retired psychiatrist
Almario Garaza in his workout.

In any case, if you’ve noticed you are slowing down as you age or having a harder time performing the day-to-day activities that you have been used to doing, functional training can help. If you are just beginning any exercise program or planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, you should consult with a certified fitness professional such as one

of the trainers at West Hills Athletic Club. There are no age restrictions in any of the 90 weekly programs offered at West Hills, only fitness requirements. We start with a free consultation and then recommend an exercise program that is safe and comfortable for you, no matter what level you are at.

Remember, your OLLI membership gives you a discount at West Hills Athletic Club, which is owned by Western Michigan University. With this benefit, rates are very reasonable. Also, if you are a current employee or a retiree of WMU, membership is part of your benefit package. Check out West Hills by arranging a tour of the facility and/or by going to their website

Happy New Year everyone!

Setting goals for this new year is a great way to get it started! Let’s set some amazing New Year’s resolutions this year. To help OLLI at WMU with setting goals, what would you like to see more of from OLLI?

Now You Know

Let's celebrate those who go above and beyond to overcome their difficulties in life! The first month of the year is Braille Literacy Month. Braille is a tactile code made of six dots. Braille can be written and read from many different languages, but is not a language itself, it is a system of reading created by Louis Braille after being blinded in an accident at age 13. Braille allows those who are blind or visually impaired to be able to become as literate and independent as possible. Braille can be used for feet too! To learn more about this amazing way to communicate, please visit the sites below:

Celebrating Braille Literacy Month - Perkins School for the Blind

Diversity and Inclusion Calendar - January 2020 (3rdcc.org)

National Braille Literacy Month (January) (angelesinstitute.edu)

January is the Official Month to Promote & Celebrate Braille Literacy (brailleworks.com)


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.