OLLI President’s Message, April 17 By Bill Taylor, President
On March 16, the Board decided that, due to the COVID-19 virus, OLLI would offer only online classes until it is safe to return to in-person classes. This decision followed guidance from Mason about their classes. On April 8, Mason announced that its online-only policy would continue through June 30, and that by May 31 it would decide whether on-campus classes would resume thereafter. On April 9, I discussed with our Executive Committee the impact of this decision on our summer term, which begins on June 22. Even if we could begin using our campuses on July 1, it is not feasible to change from online to in-person classes in the middle of the term. The Executive Committee concluded that under these circumstances the prudent course is to plan to offer only online courses for our summer term. We authorized Jennifer Disano to begin making arrangements to do so immediately.
We have had tremendous support from our OLLI teachers to augment our program to an online platform this spring. Their efforts have brought much needed enrichment and social engagement during this time of crisis. Thank you, OLLI teachers! OLLI teachers have already stepped up to the virtual plate, committing to offer summer-term courses online, and provide even more wonderful programming for OLLI members to enjoy. We are so grateful to have OLLI in our lives, especially now.
By Norma Jean Reck, Theater Lovers’ Group (TLG) Coordinator
On Monday, April 27, at 11:50, you are invited to join OLLI members from all three campuses in a virtual class (978 in the catalog) to meet and dialog with Peg McKowen, noted artistic director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF), which is located in nearby Shepherdstown, West Virginia. This summer marks the 30th anniversary of CATF, which the New York Times has said is “one of America’s 50 Essential Summer Festivals.” Peg will discuss the founding of the theater festival, why Shepherd University, plays that run in repertory for the month of July, American playwrights whose works are premiered there, state of the theater, and how CATF plans to stay in touch with its audience during our current stay-at-home situation.
This class—978 A “Must” Summer Treat: Contemporary American Theater Festival—which was to be held in Fairfax, has been combined with class 967 of the same title, which was to be held in Reston. Now that we are virtual, there is no need to drive. Just grab a cup of coffee and tune in. Be sure to sign up online so you can be connected.
Because the CATF has been canceled for this summer, we will not be making the trip in July. We will definitely put it on our agenda for next summer. By the way, My Lord, What a Night, which we saw at CATF last summer, is scheduled to play at Ford’s Theater in January 2021.
Our trip scheduled for June to American Shakespeare Center (ASC), Blackfriars Playhouse, in Staunton, Virginia, to see Othello has been canceled. The ASC has canceled its live performances and is trying hard to keep most of its staff employed by offering both free and for-pay performances, as well as other activities, online. Go to www.americanshakespearecenter.com to see what it is being offered.
One of the joys of theater is people—people connecting with people, whether they are a seat-mate, another member of the audience, actors on stage, musicians in the orchestra pit, a fellow theater classmate, a theater club member, or an après-theater dinner table mate. The theater is about people and our stories. Right now, we are fortunate that we are able to connect virtually and still enjoy the theatrical environment.
By Angela Talaber, Photography Club Co-Coordinator
OLLI has recently been approved by Careasy for vehicle donation. Careasy is a national organization that will pick up an unwanted vehicle, prepare it for sale, manage the sale and return profits to OLLI. You may donate cars, trucks, trailers, boats, RV’s, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, heavy equipment, and other motorized vehicles. Selling your own vehicle takes time, money, advertising, and more, so consider the advantages of donating a vehicle for OLLI. Not only will you cruise past the hassles altogether, but you’ll make a lasting impact on OLLI programming.
Advantages of donating your vehicle for OLLI are: 1. It’s easy and the pick-up is free!
2. The proceeds from the sale of your vehicle will support OLLI.
3. Donating saves time and money on repairs and maintenance (not to mention insurance).
4. Donating beats the hassles and worries of selling.
5. Vehicle donations are tax-deductible.
To donate, call 855-500-7433 or submit the secure online form at https://careasy.org/. Careasy will make the pickup arrangements for you—and you can support the great programs at OLLI with this generous donation. Car donations are not limited to OLLI members; anyone in the US can contact Careasy and donate your vehicle for OLLI. Click on this link to access the OLLI page: https://careasy.org/nonprofit/osher-lifelong-learning-institute-at-george-mason-university\.
Be a “Vehicle Donor Hero” and tell your friends and family and donate your car for OLLI!
“Fun and Excitement” While Being “Locked Down!” (Rather than “Up!”)
By John Nash, E-News Editor
Well, we’re all into what seems like a far-too-long period of “social distancing” and “stay at home” directives. In addition to now facing all those things we’ve put off “until I have time,” many of us have learned the new technology Zoom to continue enjoying OLLI classes. (Thank you to the fantastic OLLI staff for making this happen!) Whatever the hardships we face, most of us are managing to cope with these new and uncertain times. Here is what several OLLI members say that they’re doing during this time of “sequestering.”
Jim Hickey: Out of boredom, I suppose, I shaved off my beard for the first time in over a quarter-century. I’ll grow it back and never shave it off again, I’m sure. My wife can’t read my expressions now which leads to some marital confusion. So, if anyone hears me utter the line “My wife just doesn’t understand me,” it’s about the missing beard, that’s all. Hillary Rubin: It’s easy to remember what I am doing…it’s the same every day now. It’s harder to remember what day it is! I walk a few miles every day, taking a new neighborhood path and even seeing things that are new to me. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, taking photos of blooms, rereading the camera manual, doing tai chi, and taking other classes through OLLI Zoom, making up new recipes using whatever is in the freezer, rereading books on the shelf, sorting give-away stuff, designing word games for 6 grandchildren. Whew, am I doing all that? Keep safe! Norma Reck: My life has been too humdrum but now it’s “newly routined.” I’m finding time to walk everyday: the neighborhood streets are practically empty, and I have them to myself, reluctantly sharing them with just a random car or two. I’m trying new recipes and connecting with people on my Christmas card list. OLLI classes fill out even more. I think we all are finding new ways to make the best of the changes in our lives. Pat Bangs: I’ll be sharing dinner and a film with my sister, Cindy, on Friday. She is on the management team of the Treasure Dharma Buddhist Retreat Center in the mountains outside Tucson, Arizona. She’s rural, I’m urban but Zoom is making it easy for us to get together! Harriet Kaplan: I’m keeping busy. I’m spending time online taking courses and attending meetings. I’m doing a lot of reading, cleaning files, and shredding paper. I walk a great deal, which is fun because I’m discovering some back streets of my community and seeing beautiful houses I never knew existed. I do go on short outings to the grocery store and the pharmacy, and even *safely* visited my neighbor who witnessed my mail-in ballot. I also enjoy many phone calls to friends and family. Whether good or bad, I’m now home to receive those scam and telemarketing calls—and respond appropriately! They seem oblivious.
May this pandemic end soon . . . I crave being with people!
The April 2020 Photo of the Month theme was Clouds. We selected Angela Talaber’s (me!) photo “Double Rainbow,” which may also be viewed at this page. To view other photos by members of the Photography Club, visit the club’s photo website.
Tis indeed the Devil’s scheme,
This thing they call COVID-19.
It’s brought my life to an unsavory halt,
Like buttered popcorn without the salt.
Going to a restaurant, just for instance,
Violates one’s social distance.
Staying home is just the pits,
12 hours a day bingeing Netflix!
Remain apart at least six foot,
That’s a rule I wish kaput!
Yes, it’s six foot, never more near,
(At that distance I can hardly hear.)
But Oshers must learn, and we’re not telepathic,
No, we are old, Corona’s demographic.
So we isolate here in our computer room,
In front of a camera on a system called Zoom.
Oops, is that me on the screen by some chance?
Oh, please excuse me while I put on my pants!
Jim Dunphy, OLLI member extraordinaire, passed away April 13 after a brief illness. His infectious energy and exuberance led him to excel in numerous roles at OLLI in his too few years as a member, including service as a member of the Board of Directors, committee chair, instructor of numerous courses, and leader of special events. He will be greatly missed.
Funeral plans are incomplete, but it is expected that he will be interred at Arlington or Quantico National Cemetery. Watch for information about a memorial celebration of his life after current social-distancing restrictions are lifted.
Please note: Physical meetings for clubs and activities are canceled until further notice in accordance with Mason’s guidelines. OLLI is exploring ways to conduct its classes and activities online. Refer to the university’s coronavirus website for official university updates and check the OLLI calendar for revised information.
The following list covering the next two weeks is extracted for your convenience from the master online calendar maintained by the office, with direct web links added when available. The list is accurate as of mid-week but for the most up-to-date information, please view the latest forecast of coming events on our website (News/OLLI Calendar). Note: All OLLI members are welcome at, and encouraged to attend (online), meetings of the Board of Directors, committees and resource groups, kick-off coffees, etc. (bolded below).
Sat Apr 18
Tai Chi Club–Zoom (Meeting ID: 284 531 289)
Personal Computer User Group–Zoom (Meeting ID: 937 3024 4342)
OLLI E-News was created by Rod Zumbro, who served as its editor from 2005 to 2013.
Chief Editor: Paul Van Hemel
Associate Editor: David Gundry
Weekly Editor Team: David Gundry, John Nash, Sheri Siesseger, Leslie Vandivere,
Paul Van Hemel Proofreaders: Rebecca Jann, Susan Van Hemel, Linda Randall, Tom Appich, Roz Stark,
Backup Chief Editor: Alice Slayton Clark
Submissions: Members are encouraged to submit letters to the editor, letters to Ms. Ollie Ettakit (on etiquette matters), OLLI-related news items, articles, and photos. Submit material to: email@example.com. Deadline: Tuesday, 6:00, for that week’s issue (Monday, 6:00, for letters to the editor); early submissions are greatly appreciated. Please limit articles to about 250 words. Note: You can view past issues of OLLI E-News on the DocStore. To search the content of issues, use Search Our Site or put your search term in Google followed by “site:olli.gmu.edu/” without the quotes.