As the old year ends and the new one begins, changes are taking place within Learning in Retirement.
It’s the annual time for the “changing of the guard,” new members coming in, retiring board members stepping down, and new board members stepping up.
One of the outgoing members is the board president, Rev. Steve Buchholz, who has served in that position for three years.
“It has been my joy and privilege to serve as president of LIR,” Buchholz said. “My first year was a bit of a challenge with the advent of COVID. We had most of our meetings in 2020 via Zoom, but as 2021 progressed, we were able to meet in person again, and that was a delight.”
In 2022, the group began meeting back on the LU campus and holding meetings as it did pre-COVID.
“My joy has been working with the members of the board over these past three years,” he said. “Their interests were always focused on the betterment of the organization and how we could make the best possible product for the membership.”
As Buchholz leaves the board (but not really, because he will serve a year on the board as past president), he said, “Thank you LIR and board — it has been a blessing to serve you.”
Inge Gauck, who is the retiring board secretary, confessed she wasn’t very good with words, but felt it had been an honor to serve on the LIR board of directors as well.
“The members are dedicated to making LIR an outstanding organization,” she said. “I’m grateful to be a part of Learning in Retirement. The board and members are the very best,” a sentiment shared by many.
Kathel Cooper, the LIR retiring historian has held several positions in the organization, including newsletter editor, website coordinator, membership and marketing chairman, president and vice president, and historian, as well as serving on the nominating committee and the audit committee.
“When LIR started 30 years ago, those first board members had the foresight to develop a structured organization where all members have input,” she said. “I will truly miss the internal business that is conducted by the board and the decisions that must be made with our entire membership in mind.”
As Cooper said, “The dynamics of the LIR board changes each year with the newly elected and outgoing board members.”
Another retiring board member, Kay Freidinger, has also expressed her admiration for the “good leadership” of the organization.
“As I leave the board after six years, I am in awe of the good leadership in the Learning in Retirement organization,” she said. “Everyone on the board takes an active interest in proactively seeing that we provide a safe learning environment for our members.”
Rita Grace, another board member who has served in numerous positions for LIR, said she joined in 2011 and was hooked after taking her first LIR class.
“It was on the Reformation and was taught by an LU professor,” she said. “I remember thinking that this was very impressive for an organization designed to provide continuing education for retirees in the community.”
Grace began volunteering to work on registrations, LIR’s process for recording memberships and members who are interested in classes offered by the organization.
“It didn’t take me long to realize that LIR would not exist if its members did not volunteer their time in one way or another,” she said.
Grace went on to serve as web administrator, secretary and vice president of the board and as clubs chair, and continues to chair the registration committee.
“The time that I have given to the organization has been more than returned to me in things I have learned and people I have met,” she said.
As terms of these hard-working board members expire, they all expressed faith that the incoming board members will continue the legacy of Learning in Retirement’s success in the community and surrounding area.
The new board members coming in are John Gulick, Mentha Bolton-Bakari, Sue Hilkemeyer, Steve Newman and Jenny Smith.
Gulick joined Learning in Retirement in 2020 after seeing articles in the Jefferson City News Tribune and found out more by visiting with fellow church members who were already active in the organization. As a new board member, John said, “I am looking forward to learning the behind-the-scenes operation of this tremendous organization that provides such a variety of experiences for retirees in Cole County.”
He has been active on the LIR educational travel committee and has already co-hosted three trips. He will be co-hosting a new two-day Civil War-related trip to Springfield, Carthage and Nevada, Missouri, in June.
Another new board member, Mentha Bolton-Bakari, joined the organization in 2017.
“As an advocate new to the city, I contacted the mayor to see how I could serve the community,” she said. “Mayor Tergin recommended Learning in Retirement.” (What a wonderful accolade for this organization! Thank you, Mayor Tergin.)
Bolton-Bakari said she had learned more about the community by joining LIR but would like to see more diversity. She is active on the curriculum committee and has facilitated several classes on African American and Hispanic culture. She will be coordinating two classes this spring: “Did you Know? Legislators During the Reconstruction Era — African Americans Served” and “Hispanic Awareness — South America.”
In Bolton-Bakari’s opinion, the best things LIR does are the classes offered and the platform provided by the writers’ club, of which she is an active member.
Sue Hilkemeyer joined Learning in Retirement in January 2021 and will serve as the new clubs chair. She is a member of the LIR book club and the walking/hiking club. She will now coordinate the activities of all 16 LIR clubs.
Hilkemeyer said she joined Learning in Retirement to meet new people, to travel and for the educational opportunities.
“It’s a great way to meet new people and develop new friendships,” she said. “I’ve met new people and traveled to several unique places.”
She also said she likes the educational programs on a variety of topics that LIR offers.
A fourth new board member is Steve Newman who joined Learning in Retirement in 2018 and said he learned about LIR primarily from reading occasional News Tribune articles.
“I joined LIR to engage in networking opportunities with senior citizens,” he said, “I have benefited from learning more about my iPhone, good books to read and attractive travel opportunities at affordable prices.”
He suggests that LIR develop a logo and use it aggressively for branding purposes and use a slogan such as “Blue name tags promote continued learning.”
As Freidinger said earlier, new members bring new ideas and new energies, so this may be something the board will pursue in the future.
Another idea shared by new board member Jenny Smith is to once again engage Lincoln University professors in more of the LIR programs, another good option the Learning in Retirement Board may want to pursue.
Smith said, “I love the opportunity LIR provides for enhancing our enjoyment of learning and socializing. I sign up for many classes. I love history especially. The bonus is the many nice folks I have met in LIR.”
If you would like to become a member of this organization, it’s easy. You can attend the winter membership meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Wardsville Lions Club to see what the organization has to offer, meet many friendly people, and sign up for activities you are interested in.
Just call the Learning in Retirement Office at 573-681-6152 or email [email protected] and express you interest to Cheri or Marla. They will provide whatever assistance you need.
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