Encore Education Centre
I retired from running my family business in 2014. For the remainder of that year I was busy winding up the business and adjusting to my new circumstances. During 2015 I did a lot of travelling I had missed out on for 35 years, reading I had been putting off until I had time, and adapting our new home to retirement mode. But I had worked 70 hours a week for over a third of a century and I needed new interests to fill the gap. A friend suggested Encore Education and, in particular, the WIN (Write It Now) program, which involves writing one’s life reminiscences and sharing them with one’s fellow participants. I became involved with this project and made friends with many members of the group and soon found myself taking other classes at Encore that I found interesting (Introductory Gaelic, Shakespeare’s life, Canada in the First World War) or that would expand my horizons (such as PowerPoint Presentations). Within a very short time I was appointed to the Board of Directors and volunteered to serve on the Curriculum Committee (of which I am now Vice-Chair), and soon after volunteered for the Marketing Committee. All three are year-round and very interesting and one makes friends easily with the fellow members. I have also helped out the last two years with the work involved in the annual fund-raising Chicken Dinner; donated items to the silent auction; and my wife and I have become financial supporters of Encore Education. But a funny thing happened to an activity that I joined to fill up the time in my quiet weeks and winter months. I began presenting sessions on subjects I knew something about: The first settlers of Stormont and Dundas; the Canadian Loyalist tradition; The History and Evolution of the General Store; The Search for the Holy Grail; Alternative Approaches to Genealogy; Buenos Aires, and the like. And through class participation and leading, I met all kinds of interesting new friends with common interests, and this certainly strengthened my ties to our local community. And the experience, even at 70, gave me the opportunity to develop social skills and to increase my self-confidence and self-esteem. Volunteer work that is meaningful and interesting can re-energize a person and produce not only life satisfaction and happiness in oneself during one’s senior years, but through volunteering, one can help make one’s own community and province better places in which to live.
I came to Canada, as an adult, at the end of 1976. I came by myself with the idea of taking a year off from Europe at a Canadian university. I chose Toronto and less than two months later there was a vacancy at one of the Modern Languages Department at the university. I was offered the job as my qualifications included the use of the Laboratory of Languages which I had used teaching in England. In Toronto I enjoyed years of happiness and fulfillment. Love came with it too and in 1981 I married a Canadian historian, another Ph.D. scholar, Murray Barkley. Afterwards, and used to life in a great city, our settling down in a small town-beautiful scenery, only a short drive from my beloved St. Lawrence River-birth place of my husband was, at first, a hard and lonely experience for myself. That is, till I found ENCORE, a unique and indescribable organization, as it offered us everything we needed. Meeting people, making friends with so many Canadians of different origins, life styles, professions and interests. Sharing, as volunteering in every way, has meant for us, seniors, an enormous gift. Most enjoyable in this sense is participating in social and educational activities, this time without the academic rigors of university life though, however, offering true knowledge. Three times a year, fall, winter and spring, ENCORE offers a sophisticated and varied program on subjects chosen by the same seniors who take them or offer them voluntarily according to the groups choice. ENCORE is a sophisticated and open organization with a savvy and dedicated Board of Directors, several Committees (executive, marketing, choice of curriculum) a generous and excellent Coordinator of subjects and time table, an efficient and most kind lady secretary. Recently, new school and reception premises, free parking included, couldn’t serve better for the goal and well being of ENCORE members and activities. Anybody and all are welcome to ENCORE. In sum, seniors in and around Cornwall are most fortunate counting on a place and opportunities ENCORE offers nowadays. We are all fortunate, happy and grateful for all that.
I attended a few courses at Encore starting back about 2015 and found them to be very engaging and met some folks that shared my curiosity for all things interesting. I felt it offered a valuable service to the community so decided that I would lend a hand. In that my many years of work experience had a strong focus on administration and management I wanted to avoid these area. I volunteered to do physical chores that needed to get done. I carried cases of water and soft drinks for a fundraising booth at the local BBQ Rib Fest. I carried furniture when the centre moved out of the St Lawrence College site, plus whatever else they needed a strong back for. Then one day I presented a course at Encore. Then I presented another and another. The course content came from my professional background and from my personal interests. Before I knew what was happening I found myself on the Board of Directors. It has been extremely interesting and rewarding. In addition to engaging with other Directors and Administration for the ongoing running of the centre I have been plunged (or perhaps pushed) into domains I had never before broached. I am on the Marketing Committee and enjoying it very much. I have written several applications for grants and am currently working on a team to redesign our website. In short the activities engage my brain, keeps me busy and its’ been fun!