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Million Dollar Grant Helps Fund Programs at OLLI - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Million Dollar Grant Helps Fund Programs at OLLI

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OLLI had 835 students enrolled last spring. OLLI had 835 students enrolled last spring.

A million dollar grant will allow seniors in Charlottesville and Staunton to dust off their school books and head back to class. It comes just as a new semester is about to kick off for retirees who want to learn for life.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offered 17 courses in its first year in 2001. This fall it will offer 72. This grant will ensure the program continues to grow.

Hal Horan shares his love of film with other retirees as an instructor for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI.

"It's not only the instructor but also the give and take between the instructor and the students and students with students - it's just fun," he said.

Horan's course has grown from 24 students to 85 - with a wait list. He and his co-teacher have created 11 film courses with different themes.

"One had an interesting title called not for women only - how the so-called chick flick teaches both genders how to be human," he said.

Enrollment in OLLI courses is booming - with 835 students last spring. This fall the program will offer courses - ranging from "Writing Your Life Story" to "Railroads of Charlottesville and Virginia."

"There are a lot of retired people in the Charlottesville area and in Staunton and they've had such wonderful backgrounds - they're well-travelled and they're well read and they love learning and teaching with other people who are of like minds," said Joan Kammire, OLLI president.

The Osher Foundation just awarded OLLI a million dollar grant to keep the program on its successful path.

"It's an endowment grant, so the principal will remain over the years, and we will receive about five percent of the principal to help with operational costs and to offset office space, salaries and so forth so this is really a wonderful step forward in our future," Kammire said.

The grant guarantees a long life for learning in central Virginia and the valley.

"Someone has said this - My goal is to die young, as late as possible. And part of keeping young is keeping our minds and our hearts and everything else young," Horan said.

Anyone interested in taking a course can meet instructors and learn about the classes at a "Taste of OLLI" event on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Meadows Church in Charlottesville.

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