Now that you have retired, what are you doing with all of your free time? The Administration for Community Living has declared this Older American Month and is asking the same question. They are challenging us to Age Out Loud: Are you taking charge? Are you striving for wellness? Are you focusing on your independence? Are you advocating for yourself and others?
We ask these questions to one of our newest residents, Jan Hagarty. She toured the Springmoor Community with her son and her daughter-in law. They live in the area and thought it would be a great place for her to really retire. Really, meaning better weather and closer to her family. The words, slowing down are not in her vocabulary.
Jan and her husband raised two boys in the Northern Virginia area. When their youngest was only five, they decided as a family that they should have a group project to help others. As a nurse, administrator, volunteer, mother and teacher, she describes herself more as a server than a taker. Teaching their boys this lesson was important to the Hagarty family.
Their youngest son, Kevin, suggested they become a foster family. He wanted one of his classmates to come and live with them. The idea was hatched and 21 children later; the family has been a strong advocate for foster parenting and adoption. Their seventh foster child, Marvin, came to them when he was only five days old. He was adopted into their family at age two.
When Jan and her husband decided to leave the hectic life-style and traffic congestion in the DC area, they moved to the mountains of West Virginia. Her husband was quick to say, “we are going to volunteer, we are going to be involved and we are going to make a difference in our new community.”
Jan has kept these lessons with her as she has made her move to Springmoor. She arrived in mid-March. Step One: get involved! She took the Springtimes activity book and signed up for every activity that she could. She tried the lectures, she tried the outings, she tried the exercise classes, and she tried the art classes. The list was long but she knew that if she didn’t step out, she would be sitting in her chair and reading all day.
Striving for Wellness
Reading all day sounds like fun but not to a great way to stay active and healthy. She volunteered to work in the library as another way to surround herself with books. She has joined the Springmoor tai chi class and the yoga class. These additions have been great for her joints and her movement. She is feeling better than ever before!
Focusing on Independence
Not only is she jumping in to activities on campus but she is also learning her way around the city of Raleigh. Starting with the surrounding neighborhoods, she has found a church, an abundance of grocery stores and many new places to eat and shop. She hopes involvement in the church will enable her to find volunteer jobs in the community. She wants to enjoy all that her new city has to offer. Continue reading →
“OLLI provides a challenge and stimulus to areas of knowledge and thinking, which stimulates my creativity, sparks long-forgotten areas of interest, and helps me discover new insights and thinking.” (OLLI member)
– The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
– From Seeking Rights to Wielding Power: Women and the Supreme Court
– I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool: Author, Lee Smith
– History of Electricity – A Shocking Tale
– The Governors I Have Known
– Study Trip – Carolina Tiger Rescue
These are just a few of the many OLLI course offerings for Spring 2017.
In the Beginning
The continuing education program for older adults began at NC State in 1991. Originally named Encore, the classes began with a group of 653 participants. Today, the program has grown to over 1,500 active annual members. With 108 short courses, 56 lectures, 22 study trips and 218 volunteer instructors; it is a program that members say they participate in for the “joy of learning.”
With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, the need for intellectually challenging learning experiences will continue to increase. Bernard and Barbro Osher saw a need in the field of education to help this generation live a healthy and stimulating life style. Retirees with vast experiences need a way to stay engaged, share their backgrounds, help in the community and broaden their own education.
Beginning with an initial grant to the Fromm Institute, an educational and charitable foundation, the Oshers spent years researching possible ways to offer lifelong learning programs to seasoned adults. They wanted to offer opportunities for volunteer leadership, engage emeritus university faculty and offer exciting courses (without exams) in a college setting. Today the OLLI program is offered in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 120 university campuses.
Members have been quoted as saying that they have “fallen in love with learning,” often signing up for more courses than time allows. Sharing life experiences and careers has brought new groups of friends together. Their intellectual and social horizons are being expanded with each class they take. Dr. Mary Bitterman, President of The Bernard Osher Foundation, says “older adults consider retirement not as the end of a boring or demanding job but as the opportunity to do more.”
She describes retirement as the “3rd age or midcourse” for adults 65+ years old. They are ready for a second or third career. This age group wants to be productively engaged and establish new patterns and a new network of friends as they step into retirement. Learning experiences and social facilitation are what make OLLI such and important resource for many in our community.
Not only do members take courses but they also volunteer in Wake County, teach classes, recruit new members and assist with administrative duties within the program. You will find NC State OLLI members at The Food Bank of Raleigh, Stop Hunger Now, A Note in the Pocket and other non-profit organizations throughout the city. Linda Denison, an active Springmoor participant, helps write the newsletter and volunteer her time at the Food Bank.
With only a $50 yearly membership fee, participants also have access to many of the NC State facilities and activities on campus. Jan Christensen, another active OLLI participant, enjoys the extra Wolfpack activities of campus theatre and sporting events. One OLLI member was quoted as saying that taking classes at The McKimmon Center proves to be quite an inspiring walk as he crosses the campus. Mixing with a college-aged crowd keeps him healthy, engaged, informed and optimistic. Privileges to the library system, discounts and the Corner Café and the Campus Cinema are available. Cultural events and the Stewart Theatre and the Thompson Theatre are also easily accessible to members. Free admission to non-revenue Wolfpack sporting events is also a wonderful perk.
Jan says that many of the courses fill-up even before the ink is dry on the semester brochures. She and fellow Springmoor neighbor, Dottie Davis, use their online registration each semester. The instructors, mostly Professors Emeritus from Meredith College, William-Peace University and NC State can be found leading the classes. Area authors, Lee Smith and Jim Clark can fill up a 150-seat classroom quickly.
Field trips accompany many of the offerings. Jim Clark’s latest class is scheduled for a four-night trip to Asheville to finish his Mountain Women by Mountain Men. Jan is taking a class now on Brazil. She has toured the country before and found this a great way to “see” it again! Continue reading →
“Being able to read at grade level is a predictor of success and high school graduation,” says Kati Mullan, executive director of Read and Feed. “If you can read, you can do anything.”
Springmoor welcomes Heather Cross, Read and Feed’s Volunteer Coordinator, to our Resident’s Association Meeting today. For those that heard her speak before you know that she is very inspiring and passionate about their outreach activities in Wake County.
Last September, we traveled to the Cary offices to help assemble 600 tote bags to begin the year’s program. One group of Springmoor volunteers helped with the morning shift and another followed in the afternoon. Together, they began our first partnership with Read and Feed.
Read and Feed – in the Beginning
In October of 2007, Jan Frantz, Read and Feed’s founder, quit her corporate job, purchased an RV and drove it to Penny Road Elementary in Cary. As a volunteer tutor at Northwood Elementary, she began to see that every child’s opportunities are not the same. Struggling to read on an empty stomach is difficult. Having no reading resources at home adds to the problem facing many of Wake County’s lower income students.
Jan spent many months researching the issues these children face. She found that seventy-four percent of children not reading on grade level by the third grade would find it impossible to ever catch up. As the subjects get more complex, reading becomes more and more important. If a child can’t read, their struggles begin. Confidence is lost, grades are low and bad behavior can start.
Providing a nurturing environment as well as a warm meal makes learning so much easier. Each child in the program spends a little more than an hour with a volunteer each week. Eating, reading, listening, and spelling vocabulary words fill their hour. The program comes to the areas where the children are in the greatest need. The RV is driven to sites close to their homes. Two groups are served each night in local community centers or in the Read and Feed RV. The child is given three books each night to take home with them.
Jan has since partnered with the Interfaith Food Shuttle to provide warm meals. Food is also donated or purchased at a discount from local restaurants. She has found volunteers across the county and continues fund-raising events so that the program can bring all of our children up to grade level.
The Food Drive Begins
Springmoor will participate this month with the collection and assembly of the children’s food bags. The bags will be filled with food for the children to eat during their spring break. Without a school breakfast and lunch program, many children in Wake County go without a meal during their day.
We are asking for donations of food as well as financial support. Our teams will pack each bag with three meals for a day or bags with snacks for the seven-day vacation. Springmoor will provide the tote bag and the food for each bag. The collection bins have been filling up but we are still in need of a few specific items: pasta, pasta sauce, canned vegetables, canned tuna or chicken, dried beans and canned milk.
The Convenience Store in our North Village lobby is an easy way to shop for your donations. The items most needed for the children’s bags are marked for easy shopping. You may also pick up items during your weekly grocery store run.
Assembling the bags will take place at the end of our food drive, the last week of March. On April 3, we will take a bus trip to Fox Road Elementary School to deliver our Read and Feed donations. A second trip on April 4 is planned for the Homestead neighborhood’s Read and Feed site. Our Resident Life Department is asking for volunteers for all of these activities. We would love to have your help! Continue reading →
It began with an announcement in her church bulletin. Marie Jones read an article about The North Carolina Literacy Council’s need for volunteers. They were teaming up with her church to teach tutors. With her children managing their own households, her “tribe” of grandchildren (a full dozen), and the recent death of her husband in 2009, she knew it was time to find a new path.
With a major in Economics and a minor in Social Studies from Duke, she had enrolled again in school when her own children were teenagers. She became certified to teach K-7. Her excellent high school English teachers at New Hanover High in Wilmington had planted the seeds. So now on her new path, she was ready to tum her education into teaching.
Her first student with The North Carolina Literacy Council was a mother of twins who hadn’t finished high school. With Marie’s guidance, the two met twice each week for a year. She’s proud to say that her student obtained her GED 18 years after her original high school enrollment. Marie believes that “if you don’t keep learning, you can easily get behind in a year’s time. The best way to learn,” she says, “is to teach.” Today’s technology also keeps her on her toes and eager to learn. The joy she receives from her students has given her a new purpose in her life.
After her move to Springmoor, a fellow resident called within a few days of her arrival and asked if she would join the English as a second language (ESL) teaching program. She said it took her only a few seconds to say, “Yes!” Bim Flett, originally from Thailand, became her first student. They’ve worked together over the past two years, meeting weekly for lessons. Bim has been in Raleigh for eight years and works part-time in the North Village dining room at Springmoor. Before her arrival in the States, she had studied the English language in a university in Thailand. She’s found that learning to speak fluently in very challenging.
“Brussel sprouts” brings a laugh each time Marie and Bim say it to each other. Learning new sounds and letters that aren’t in the Thai alphabet are very difficult. It’s been helpful for Bim to use a mirror to learn the placement of her tongue, teeth, and lips to pronounce some new English alphabet sounds. Since she and Marie have been working together, Bim has learned to read well and has broadened her vocabulary. Her writing, speaking, and spelling have all advanced. As a reward for her steady work, Marie recently took Bim to the Cameron Village Library. At age 55, Bim got her first library card. The excitement on her face was worth everything to Marie. Knowing that she could check out books at any time was the best gift Bim could have received.
With spring approaching, Marie has planned trips to the Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and for fun to Pullen Park. She’s excited to ride the Carousel with Bim! The two explore language through outings as well as through books. Last month, Bim asked Marie to show her how to set a proper table with a full place setting. In return, Bim taught her proper etiquette for a dinner guest in a Thai home and described the contrast in table settings and table manners.
When asked about Marie, Bim quickly says, “I feel like she is my mother not my teacher.” The confidence she has given her helps every day as she speaks more and more of her second language.
A Second Student
Miriam Massoud has been a Springmoor employee for ten years. She came to the United States from Egypt as a licensed, experienced veterinarian. In order to practice in the US, she must pass the English language proficiency exam before she’s allowed to take the Veterinary Board exam. Since last fall, Marie and Miriam have worked together to prepare for this rigorous test in April or May. All South Village Springmoor residents who know and love Miriam are pulling for her to make her dream of practicing veterinary medicine again a reality!
When describing her teacher, Miriam says, “Mrs. Jones goes above and beyond to help me. She puts in a tremendous amount of effort to prepare the lessons each week. She is tough when she needs to be and always keeps me on the right track. She doesn’t take no for an answer!” Miriam recalls the day that Marie gave her a binder for her work. It had her name on it, and it has since become filled with homework assignments. “She touched my heart when she bought the TOELF (Test of English as a Foreign Language) book.” No one had ever dedicated so much time and research to help Miriam.
The two meet weekly for two hours and always on a day when Miriam is not scheduled to work at Springmoor. Marie has found that Miriam is much more focused when she hasn’t had a long day on her feet supervising the dining room staff. They meet in Marie’s apartment and she always offers coffee, tea or cookies. Miriam has told her she doesn’t need to do this too but Marie insists, “You always wait on us, so let me wait on you today.”
Marie did her research online and has found numerous lessons and practice tests to help Miriam. The 4 to 5 hour exam is broken down into four categories: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The writing and speaking parts have proven to be the most difficult. For her part, Miriam researched keyboarding. She never had used a typewriter so writing a timed essay during the exam is a skill she had to master too. She now studies each night with her high school and college sons by her side. Continue reading →
Dorothea Dix Hospital was once home for 2,700 patients diagnosed with mental illness. In 1974, there were 282 buildings on 2,300 acres in downtown Raleigh. Parts of the original property have been sold or leased to N.C. State University and the City of Raleigh. Today, the remaining 308 acres and office buildings at Dorothea Dix have become home to a new vision for the State of North Carolina and the City of Raleigh.
As Marjorie O’Rorke, a Springmoor resident says, “With all of the new condos and housing options being built downtown there is an important need for the city to have a place to exercise, learn and play.” What began as a volunteer position at Dix for this young nurse turned into a 40-year volunteer adventure. She and her husband came to North Carolina when he enrolled in law school at Duke. With a graduate degree in nursing from Yale, she continued her nursing career as a Duke surgical supervisor. Living in Raleigh, it was important to her to also find a volunteer activity to keep her busy.
While she was volunteering at Dix, the Director asked if she would be interested in developing a picture project of Dorothea Dix. Much had been written about the 1848 establishment of the property, the legislature’s continuing role, the nursing school, the 1926 fire and the patient care through 1970. She was given the task to document the years from 1970 to 2008. With an undergraduate degree in history and her nursing background, this project was a wonderful combination of her skills. Little did she know that it would take 20 years and many fundraising appeals to finish the project. Never did she think that she was going to write a book. Finishing the project during the recession proved to be an uphill battle for publishing her work. With the help of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources and the Office of Archives and History, Haven on the Hill, was finally put into print.
Her research was all written in longhand. As she said, “I never took typing in high school,” she said, “Oh, this project would have been much easier” if she had! Today, as she continues to help, she pulls out her iPad to correspond with the volunteer committees she is still involved with in the future of this exciting project. The Dix Park Conservancy volunteers have traveled to New York, St. Louis and other cities to look at parks and conservation projects.
In 2003, the state began construction of a new mental health hospital in Butner. The State of North Carolina and the City of Raleigh have come to an agreement on the sale of the property and Marge’s volunteer role continues with the Dix Park Conservancy. She has served on the Dix Park board with other interested citizens and as a consultant for the legacy committee to promote, preserve and educate the history of the hospital. She is an advocate for Mental Health Services. With the help of a younger volunteer, she has made a power point presentation that she uses when she speaks to groups.
Her vision for Dix Hill is to have a museum to educate the visitors and preserve the history of the institution. The families of the patients, she says, “play an important roll in keeping the history alive.” She would like to see recreation, restaurants and a “place to play” along with the museum. She cares deeply about the staff that worked at the hospital. They will always be an inspiration to her. Continue reading →
Do you know how to use FaceTime, Skype, or Facebook? Can you text and email with your iPad or Android? Most high school seniors can pick up any device and quickly navigate through any new app. Their form of communicating is much different than their parents or grandparent’s generation. Jackson Barlow, a homeschooled high school senior, saw a need to help his granddad’s friends at Springmoor.
Jackson, the grandson of residents Jim and Faye Bundy, began thinking about this idea for his Eagle Scout Project. He has assisted the Residents Association’s Computer Committee in teaching the Computer Lab’s Introduction to Computers class on several occasions. By helping in the Computer Lab, he realized the residents wanted to learn how to use their own devices to communicate with their family and friends. His Eagle Scout service project was born out of his desire to help seniors become more familiar with the basics of how to use their smart phones and computers.
His first step in this big project was to find out what devices and applications the residents wanted to learn how to use. He sent a short survey to everyone asking detailed questions so that he could design a class that worked for everyone.
He was pleased to see that over 40 responses were returned. Part of the Eagle Scout service project involved Jackson leading a group of assistants. He formed a great team of other homeschooled scouts, David Bass, Justin Newton, and his own brother, Parker. Jeff and Karen Barlow (Jackson’s parents) also assisted with the project. Through these detailed surveys, Jackson got a good feel for exactly what the residents really wanted to get out of the class.
He divided the classes into two different groups. One class was for Apple devices and the second class was for Android or Windows devices. There were some who wanted to learn to text and send photographs. Some that needed to know how to send an email and others that wanted to learn how to FaceTime with their grandchildren. A few asked for help setting up new devices. Jackson’s team provided one-on-one assistance to everyone in the class. It proved to be an exciting day not only for Springmoor residents but the scouts too.
As Jim described the day, “seeing the light bulbs go off” as the student finally understood what their teacher was saying was magical. He said he is not sure who learned more – the resident or the scout. What comes so naturally to teenagers most definitely takes patience, persistence and lots of trial and error from both sets of seniors. Watching the boys navigate with their fingers sliding across the keyboard or the screen seems like such an easy maneuver. For those who learned to type on manual typewriter an Android with a flat screen can be quite intimidating!
Jackson began scouts when he was seven years old. Now, almost 18, he is in the final stretch of obtaining his Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank awarded in Boy Scouting. Jackson is not only is a computer whiz, this past summer he earned his Private Pilot’s license! One of the proudest days for Jim and Faye was the day their grandson flew them around in a plane in which he was the Pilot in Command. He will graduate from high school in May and is considering attending Guilford Technical College to earn his Associates Degree in Aviation. Continue reading →