The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (OLLI) is a group of more than 1,000 individuals, age 50 and over, who learn together through three distinct programs: OLLI Classes, OLLI Learning Trips, and OLLI Study Groups.

Here, members can discuss what they learned, what they enjoyed, and offer suggestions to enhance future program offerings.

Take a look at the photos we're taking, and the discussions we're having as OLLI members.

Whether we're in class, in town, or out of town ... we're on the go, having fun, and constantly learning.


We look forward to reading your comments!

While you're online, be sure to visit our website www.bradley.edu/continue/olli to register for our programs.

Don't forget -- OLLI has its own YouTube Channel, where you can see video clips of Learning Trips, Classes, and Study Groups!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dynamic Controls -- March 26



Dynamic Controls President and Bradley alum Bill Wahl ('65) graciously hosted OLLI members for a presentation about his company in late March.

The company, located at 1700 W. Luthy Drive in Peoria, provides controls and building automated systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), card access, lighting, and CCTV. It provides a variety of different applications for single buildings, large campuses, major health care facilities, and industrial complexes.

Although most of Dynamic Controls' work is done on construction sites, there are 20 employees who work in the Peoria office, including engineers, project managers, programmers, CAD (computer aided drawing) operators, and support staff. Four employees work out of a satellite office in St. Louis.

Some of the company's customers include Eastern Illinois University (40 campus buildings), AT&T, Verizon, Edward Jones, and various schools, factories, hospitals, churches, and farms.

For more information about Dynamic Controls, visit http://www.dynamiccontrolsinc.com/.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Great Harvest Bread Co. -- March 24 & April 14



Twenty OLLI members were treated to a tasty tour of Great Harvest Bread Company on Tuesday, March 24.

Sam Polito, who co-owns the Peoria franchise with his wife Stephanie, gave members an in-depth look at the bakery's history, its products, ingredients, and baking process.

The first Great Harvest Bread Co. opened in Great Falls, Montana in 1976, and has grown to more than 220 locally owned and operated bakeries across the United States. The Politos opened the franchise after Sam fought a successful battle with cancer, as they wanted to spend more time together and lead a healthier lifestyle. Sam is now cancer-free and joked that his clean bill of health was the result of the bakery's bread and cookies.

Upon hearing Sam's joke, OLLI member Fred Dickenson quipped, "Now he's making a little bit of dough ... somebody had to say it!"

The bakery uses premium whole wheat purchased from small family farms in Montana. Every day at 4 a.m., employees mill the wheat to ensure freshness and flavor, then begin the five-hour process of kneading and baking. Fresh-baked bread is available for purchase around 10 a.m. daily.

Sam said he and his 24 employees attempt to bake just enough bread to sell within 24 hours. He does not wholesale the products to supermarkets, and any bread left unsold after one day is donated to area food banks and shelters.

OLLI thanks Sam, Stephanie, and Rebecca for a great afternoon in a delicious environment! We appreciate the time you spent answering our questions, and we'll definitely be back to use the coupons you generously provided.

For more information about Great Harvest Bread Co., you can visit the store at 9010 N. Allen Road, or log onto www.greatharvestpeoria.com.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Toraason Glass Works -- March 12 & 19



On two separate occasions in March, OLLI members enjoyed a private glass blowing demonstration by local artist Hiram Toraason.

Toraason Glass, founded in 2003, is a 2,700-square-foot glass blowing studio and gallery located at 208 Morton Street, Peoria, Illinois.

During the demonstration, Hiram said he provides a number of glass making opportunities, including private lessons, weekend workshops, teambuilding workshops, and individual studio time. Hiram illustrated many techniques during his demonstration, including gathering, thumbing a bubble, transferring, and opening a cup. He and his employees created a one-of-a-kind vessel during our visit.

After the demonstration, Hiram spoke one-on-one with OLLI members, explaining the different varieties of glass creations made in the studio, which include ornaments, pendants, vessels, wine stoppers, and much more. He and his three employees are in the process of moving to a larger studio on Monroe Street in Peoria, and they expect the operation to be up and running in the new location by May.

OLLI would like to thank Hiram and his staff for providing us with a great learning experience, and we congratulate him on his new studio.

For more information about Toraason Glass, please visit toraasonglass.com.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chicago Gangster Tour -- March 4, 2009



Nearly 90 people headed for Chicago at 6:30 a.m. on March 4 for the largest learning trip in OLLI history!

Upon arrival in the Windy City, each charter coach (we had two!) was boarded by an Untouchable Tour step-on guide dressed in Prohibition-era clothes and carrying a concealed "shotgun." The tour guides, "Big Julie" and "Matches," delighted our group with a two-hour tour of Chicago, giving us the inside scoop on 1920s politics, gangster feuds, and the exploits of some of the city's famous mobsters.

As we drove past landmarks such as Holy Name Cathederal, Big Julie and Matches told stories about the Northsiders (Deanie O'Bannion, Hymie Weiss, and Bugs Moran) and Southsiders (Johnny Torrio, Big Jim Colosimo, and Al Capone), as well as the worst mafia murder in Chicago history, the St. Valentine's Day massacre.

After the tour, the OLLI group headed to Tommy Gun's Garage, a speakeasy dinner theater, for lunch and a show. Our host, Vito, led a musical comedy revue that featured gangsters, flappers, and OLLI members on stage. We were even "raided" by the cops ... and some of our members were taken on stage for an interactive "sobriety test" and radio show.

OLLI headed back home to Peoria around 4 p.m., our bellies full of delicious prime rib, and our heads full of gangster lore.

For more information about Untouchable Tours and Tommy Gun's Garage, please visit www.gangstertour.com and www.tommygunsgarage.com.

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