By Jason Wesseldyk
The community education departments from Plainwell and Otsego are teaming up to provide opportunities for senior citizens to get involved and remain active.
The Lifelong Learners groups from Otsego and Plainwell are holding a fall kick-off event at Christian Neighbors on Thursday, Sept. 21.
The event starts at 9:45 a.m. with a tour of Christian Neighbors—located at 282 12th St. in Plainwell—followed by a meal and other activities from 10 to 11 a.m.
Plainwell Community Education director Jason Herbert is organizing the event along with LeAnne Perkowski from Otsego Public Schools.
“The timing for this event is perfect,” Herbert said. “Christian Neighbors is just putting the finishing touches on their new building, so we’ll get to have a look at that.”
Following the meal, attendees will discuss a vision and goals for the group moving forward. This will include taking some interest surveys to provide Herbert and Perkowski with a better understanding of the kinds of activities group members would like to see in the future.
“We’ll also be playing games, learning about volunteer opportunities in the community and simply connecting with others,” Herbert said.
Providing senior citizens with opportunities such as this is more important than ever, according to Herbert.
“After the pandemic hit, our seniors were more lonely and isolated than ever,” he said. “Research shows that the more connected people are and the more purpose they have, the longer, happier and more fulfilling lives they lead.”
“Our seniors are a vital part of our community and they invest a lot in our schools, kids, families and community,” she said. “We are thrilled to be able to offer an outlet for them to get together, meet new people, stay active and get involved in activities and learn more about the schools and community in the process.”
Past events such as a holiday get-together and a Cinco De Mayo lunch will continue to be offered. And based on the results of the participant surveys, more activities will be added.
Some of those activities will also include the local libraries.
“We’re hoping to continue to offer more varied opportunities moving forward,” Herbert said. “Collaborating with Ransom Library has also allowed for a lot of cross-pollination between the group that we service and their folks. For instance, they offer several card playing options each month. No sense re-inventing the wheel when something fun like that already exists.”
“We are excited about the increase in activities available for our senior,” Perkowski added. “We want all of our senior programs to be successful, so cross-promoting each other’s events, as well as working together on events will enrich these opportunities and hopefully our seniors’ lives.”
Further collaboration with Christian Neighbors is also likely, with cooking classes, technology classes and technology assistance being offered.
“I’d also like to eventually bring back the good old senior bus trip where we’d spend a day at Shipshewana or Turkeyville, for instance,” Herbert said.
And if someone wants to get involved with the Lifelong Learners program but is unable to attend the kick-off event, the interest survey is available at https://www.plainwellschools.org/page/lifelong-learners. Information can also be found at https://www.otsegops.org/community/senior-lifelong-learning.
“The response has been amazing,” Herbert said. “So many people are excited to get involved. And we haven’t even hit our potential yet. With our new fieldhouse coming to Plainwell, we’ll be able to get our (Lifelong Learners) folks in swimming and walking and working out every day.”
For more information, contact Herbert at email@example.com or Perkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.