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, October 23, 2009

Institute for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation -- October 16, 2009




On our trip to IPMR, we learned about the 60-year history of the Institute, its non-profit mission, and its intriguing connection to Bradley University's School of Horology.

In the late 1930s, injured World War I veterans had little options when they returned to the United States -- jobs were extremely scarce and there were no rehabilitation facilities. As a result, many injured veterans were placed in clock and watch repair programs acoss the country. One of those programs was right here in Peoria -- Bradley University's School of Horology.

In the early 1940s, Dr. Harold Vonachen, the medical director at Caterpillar Tractor Company (headquartered in Peoria), knew that his company would be unable to meet production demands after the war if workers returned with war injuries. To avoid this problem, he gathered the area's bankers, realtors, psychologists, and Blue Star mothers to help create a comprehensive plan to get injured vets back to work.

The "Peoria Plan for Rehabilitation" became the blueprint for the world's first comprehensive vocational rehabilitation center -- today's IPMR. Besides helping war veterans return to work, the Institute also helped children with polio, victims of automobile accidents (a sharp increase in car travel in the 1950s led to a dramatic increase in wrecks), and began using new technology for splints and prothesises.

Today, IPMR provides rehab services in 18 different locations and employs more than 122 clinical staffers. During our tour, Marketing Director Barbara Campbell explained how IPMR focuses on the functioning of the body and the mechanics of problems, such as arthritis, stress fractures, and strokes. She led us through many of the rehab areas of the facility, including the balance rehab center and occupational rehab center.

OLLI thanks IPMR and Barbara Campbell for providing such an informative tour!

For more information about IPMR, please visit its website.

Wheels O'Time and Tanner's Orchard -- October 15, 2009




It was a cold and wet day for our tours of Wheels O'Time and Tanner's Orchard, but we braved the weather and walked away with a great deal of knowledge about these two local treasures.

Our first stop was the Wheels O'Time Museum in north Peoria. Our docents led us through an amazing variety of memorabilia housed in three separate buildings, including vintage automobiles, a precursor to the Caterpillar Tractor, clocks, model trains, antique washing machines, and firefighting equipment.

After lunch at Tanner's, we took a private tour of the orchard, warehouse, and processing area. For 62 years, the Tanner family has owned and managed the orchard in its current location in Speer, Illinois. It sells its products on-site only, and does not ship anything to supermarkets.

Please visit the websites for Wheels O'Time and Tanner's Orchard for more information.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wine Tasting Class -- October 8, 2009



On October 8, OLLI celebrated another first -- a wine tasting class!

Two dozen OLLI members braved the cold and rain to travel to downtown Peoria's Two25 Restaurant, our wonderful host for the evening. The class was led by Jason Steffens, a certified wine specialist for Wirtz Beverage Illinois. He shared an abundance of wine knowledge with the group, ranging from wine production, the components of taste and aroma, the world viticultural zones, and more.

During the two-hour class, participants sampled five types of wine: Twisted River Late Harvest Riesling (Germany), Alamos Chardonnay (Argentina), Jadot Pinot Noir (France), Rodney Strong Knotty Vine Zinfandel (California), and CYT Diablo Reserve Pravada Cabernet/Syrah Blend (Chile).

It was a wonderful evening of wine and education! Many thanks to Bill Kwon, frequent OLLI instructor, for his assistance, as well as Shane White of Two25 for his attention throughout the evening.

For more information about our hosts and instructor, please visit these websites:

Two25 Restaurant
Wirtz Beverage Illinois

Monday, October 5, 2009

Canoeing and Candlelight New Salem -- October 2, 2009



October was all about OLLI firsts ... on a cool Friday afternoon, we traveled to Petersburg, Illinois for a canoeing trip, trolley tour, and visit to the New Salem State Historical Site.

Upon our arrival in Petersburg (near Springfield), we split into two groups. One group canoed a two-mile route on the Sangamon River, while the other group boarded a trolley for a private tour of the historic town.

Our canoeing instructor, Scott Hewitt, did a wonderful job -- not one person fell in (or even got wet)! He provided intriguing interpretations during our float down the same river once paddled by a young Abraham Lincoln. One group even had the opportunity to see a bald eagle soar directly overhead.

Mike Stier, owner of the Stier Trolley Express, was our guide for the tour of Petersburg. He took us past many points of interest, including neighborhoods rich in Victorian homes from the 1800s, a Tiffany window in the Central Presbyterian Church, and homes of several famous people, including Congressman Thompson Ware McNeely, George Warburton, and Edgar Lee Master.

After dinner at Stonebake Pizza, we headed to New Salem for its annual candlelight tour. The paths of the village were lit by candlelight only, and we were able to roam the village enjoying the interpreters in period clothing describe what life was like during the six years of Abraham Lincoln's stay.

For more information about our trip, please visit these websites:
Lincoln's New Salem Canoe Rental
Stier Trolley Express
Stonebake Pizza
Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site

Knoxville Center for Student Success -- October 1, 2009



OLLI members had the unique opportunity to visit the Knoxville Center for Student Success (KCSS), an alternative middle school operated by Peoria School District 150.

Principal Donna O'Day led a tour of the building, which used to house the Social Security Administration, then walked us through a "typical" day a the school. Each morning, students eat breakfast in the cafeteria, then participate in a group activity called "The Melt," wherein they use relaxation techniques to release negative energy and get motivated for the day. Soon thereafter, it's time for classes, physical education, lunch, and community-based instruction and individual work with counselors. After school, the KCSS provides two hours of tutoring, mentoring, and conferencing for students.

Students are referred to KCSS by parents, teachers, principals, and support staff. Candidates for the school are those students who are engaged in learning but have experienced repeated setbacks. Students are accepted and enrolled based upon the quality of the referral and the student/parent intake interviews.

Principal O'Day said her school is always on the lookout for community partners and volunteers. If you would like to become a lunch buddy, tutor, or mentor, simply contact her at donna.oday@psd150.org.

OLLI would like to thank Principal O'Day, as well as the three young men who gave wonderful presentations during our visit. For more information about the KCSS, please visit the District 150 website.

South Side Mission Culinary Arts School -- September 24, 2009



Our visit to the South Side Mission, otherwise referred to as the "Lighthouse on Laramie," opened our eyes to the plight of the poor, downtrodden, and homeless in Peoria.

During our visit, we received an in-depth tour of the building, enjoyed a gourmet lunch by the culinary arts students on site, and learned a great deal about the Mission's services and impact on the 61605 zip code.

Executive Director Phil Newton told us the Mission provides hope, hot meals, and sanctuary to more than 15,000 people annually. It coordinates more than 40 programs for Peoria's poorest residents, including two new elderly services that arose in response to the large number of elderly poor in need of social services.

The mission relies solely on grants and donations; it does not receive government funding and is not a United Way agency. The ministry owns all of its facilities outright, and was named as a top-ten ministry in America in the August 23 issue of World Magazine.

The Culinary Arts Training School, led by Chef Chris Franzoni, was founded in 2008 to help unemployed men and women train for careers in the hospitality industry. OLLI members dined on lunch made by these students, and had an opportunity to meet the fledgling chefs.

OLLI would like to thank Meg Newell for providing an informative, intriguing, and eye-opening tour of the South Side Mission. For more information, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please visit the Mission's website.

Lebanese Ethnic Dinner -- September 23, 2009




It's another OLLI tradition -- the ethnic dinner! This season, we celebrated the Lebanese culture (and the 95th anniversary of the Itoo Hall in Peoria) with a relaxing evening of Lebanese music, delightful presentations about the immigration of the Lebanese to Peoria, and, of course, delicious food.

Upon arrival, members were treated to authentic music and a variety of displays from the various Lebanese families who have lived in Peoria. Semaan Trad, manager of the Itoo Hall, then entertained the audience with his personal story of the immigration from Lebanon to Peoria. In addition, Randy Couri gave an exceptionally educational talk about Lebanese surnames, the founding of the Itoo Reform and Progress Society, and the history of the annual Itoo Supper.

Semaan prepared an enormous feast for us, too! We were treated to a buffet of shish kabobs, Lebanese meatloaf, cabbage rolls, tabouli salad, hummus, pita bread, and, of course, baklava for dessert.

OLLI extends a big thank you to Semaan, Randy, and the staff at the Itoo Hall for organzing such a wonderful evening. For more information about the Itoo Hall, please visit its website.

Holocaust Museum and Baha'i Temple -- September 22, 2009



It was a day for contemplation and reflection when OLLI visited two important sites near Chicago: the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie. OLLI instructor and retired architect Bennett Johnson joined us to point out some of the architectural details at each building.

Our day began with a private tour of the temple. One of only seven temples in the world, the unique structure stands for unity and invites prayer to God. The House of Worship in Wilmette was dedicated in 1953 after more than 30 years of construction. It is listed in the United States Register of Historic Places and has been designated as one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois.

After lunch at Hackney's on Lake, we traveled to Skokie to tour the Holocaust Museum, which opened earlier this year. Architect Stanley Tigerman created the three-part building dedicated to Holocaust survivors. We entered through the dark side, where dark walls and sharp angles represent the "descent into darkness." The Room of Rememberance forms the building's hinge, and the German rail car residents in the dark cleave formed by the building's two halves. The third part of the building ascends into light, where rounded edges and rooflines delineate the area with exhibitions on post-war rescue and renewal.

During the tour, OLLI members spent the most time at the Zev and Shifra Karkomi Permanent Exhibition, which tells the story of the Holocaust from pre-war German life, through ghetto life and concentration camps, to eventual liberation and resettlement throughout the world.

It was an informative, set sobering, day of leanring. For more information about our stops, please visit these websites:

The Baha'i House of Worship
Hackney's on Lake
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Blog Archive

Contributors