All Life is Learning - May 2023

Director's Note and In this issue

Director's Note

Just like that, WMU’s Giving Day has come and gone. Thank you all for your generosity, which helped OLLI to raise close to $4,000 this year! With your support, we also won one of the Giving Day challenges, Lunchtime Crunchtime, which netted us an additional $500. Our success would not be possible without you. I am forever grateful to our members and friends of OLLI who so generously gave and helped to ensure that OLLI at WMU is positioned to realize its purpose, serve its members, and be a beacon of lifelong learning in Southwest Michigan. With your help, we are making a difference!

Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D.

Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU 


The OLLI at WMU winter/spring semester ended in April and the summer session begins in May, a little earlier than in the previous year. Specifically, summer 2023 registration opens May 3 at 10 a.m. You should have received the course mailer in your mailbox, if not, please give us a call and we will put one in the mail for you. 


Put June 17 on Your Calendar: OLLI CARES Fill-A-Trunk

The date for our annual OLLI CARES Fill-A-Trunk has been set! Join us on Saturday, June 17, 2023, in the parking lot on the NE corner of Westnedge and Kilgore.

We’ll be collecting donations for six local organizations, including Housing Resources, Inc. For more than 40 years, HRI has provided housing solutions for families experiencing homelessness and help for those in jeopardy of losing their housing. And, of course, we’ll also be collecting needed supplies for the Kalamazoo Literacy Council and four other local groups: YWCA Kalamazoo, SEITA Scholars Program at WMU, Ministry with Community, and Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center.

On a separate note, our last Pop-up Event, a private screening of the film “80 for Brady,” was so successful that we’re planning another one! So, be on the lookout for our next Pop-up: it will be new and different, but equally enticing and just as exciting.

Membership and Marketing

“Say it ain’t so!” Can you believe the OLLI academic year is almost over? The membership year has gone so quickly. A huge thank you for being an OLLI at WMU member for the 2022-2023 academic year. Our membership year officially ends on June 30; however, you do not have to wait until then to renew your membership. You can start renewing your membership in May. Visit the OLLI website or feel free to call the office if you need assistance in getting registered.

Thank you in advance for renewing early!    


Attention OLLI travelers! Mark your fall calendar for these upcoming trips filled with fun, adventure, and new knowledge! 

Coming in September 

For all the Motown fans and for those disappointed travelers who were waitlisted in 2019, we return to the newly renovated Motown Hitsville USA. There will be new things to see, and we are working on scheduling a surprise celebrity to accompany us and add personal insights about this historic era in music. Following lunch (included) we will travel to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African History. After a brief presentation, we will be free to explore the many, many aspects of this outstanding museum that contains the world’s largest collection of African American exhibits. Don’t miss out! 

October 10

We further explore the Lansing area. Final details are being made for a visit to the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum and the Nokomis Native American Cultural Center. On our docent-led tour through the R. E. Olds Museum we will explore the history of the automobile, from the first Oldsmobile to the latest in Lansing-built GM Products. From rare vehicles like REO, Star, Durant, and Viking to classic Oldsmobiles, buggies, bicycles, trucks and engines, you’re sure to enjoy the excitement of the transportation history. 

The Nokomis Native American Cultural Center focuses on indigenous Great Lakes history and culture, past to present, of the People of the Three Fires – the Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibway. Our presenter will teach us about their history and provide valuable insight into the traditions and connections of the People of the Three Fires in today’s world. A tour of the museum and art gallery, filled with historical items and contemporary art, is included. Watch for full information in the June OLLI Newsletter and on the Travel Page on the OLLI website. 

Travel reminder

Don’t forget to sign up for the June 21 trip to the Elkhart area! Full details can be found on the OLLI website

Wellness Moment

Functional Training: One of the Hottest Trends in the Fitness Industry

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

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, as long as they are on earth. 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.) 

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 Normal 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.


Kalamazoo Literacy Council

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

The Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC) 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 also hope to 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 training we provide is free and will equip you with proven and effective strategies for teaching adults.

We are currently seeking volunteers for our summer ESL program with Westwood United Methodist Church. Other summer 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, professional development, and more. The next online tutor training session begins on May 4. Learn more and sign up today!

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.