Learning for the Fun of It!
By Linda L. Lewis, PILLAR Volunteer, Colorado Springs LIVING WELL Magazine
Learning for the fun of it! The slogan for PILLAR Institute for Lifelong Learning captures the upbeat spirit of this organization serving nearly 5,000 residents per year, as they strive to keep their minds and bodies fit and active.
Founded in 1999, The PILLAR Institute for Lifelong Learning is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of older adults in the Pikes Peak Region. PILLAR offers 80-100 classes per quarter, as well as day trips and extended travel opportunities. A quarterly catalog, The PILLAR PREVIEW (visitpillar.org), lists a myriad of classes covering topics such as visual & performing arts, literature & writing, spirituality & philosophy, history & world affairs, and health & wellness. PILLAR’s Philosophical Café promotes stimulating discussion on a broad array of topics, with the goal of sharpening cognitive abilities and refining listening skills. PILLAR’s “Living History Series” offers live performance by actors/historians portraying historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Unsinkable Molly Brown and the roles they played in the unfolding of American history. Although 75% of PILLAR participants are between the ages of 62 and 79, classes are open to residents of any age and are affordable ($6-$15 per class).
PILLAR is powered by over 200 volunteers who provide direction to the organization, select class topics, adventure trips and seminars. One volunteer, Thelma Peck, age 82, is in her eighth year as a PILLAR class participant. “I love the diversity of the classes and the kindred souls to discuss ideas with,” she says. “As a retiree, it’s a good way to broaden my horizons. Where else could one find a two-hour class on ‘Miracles of the Mind’ for $12?”
Memberships are key to PILLAR’s financial health and are available to individuals ($60) and couples ($100). Members receive discounts for classes/trips, a weekly newsletter and reduced admission to special events.
PILLAR’s Executive Director, Dave Rich, cites the growing body of research that shows a direct relationship between participating in intellectually stimulating activities and reduced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. “Living well extends far beyond making trips to the gym,” he says. “PILLAR is proud to be a contributor in keeping the senior community healthy in mind, body and spirit.”
Contact PILLAR online at visitpillar.org or by phone at 719-633-4991 Monday through Friday.