If you were at the Spring Social, you undoubtedly saw these words included in the recently completed Strategic Plan for OLLI. Before diving into them more deeply, I have to say thank you.
Thank you to Vicki Daughdrill for her leadership of the planning committee.
Thank you to Wilber Chambers for his leadership in compiling a committee diverse in experience with and knowledge of OLLI.
To the planning committee and to each of you who've taught classes, taken classes, volunteered on committees, started interest groups and invited friends to join you here with us—thank you, too!
This is what we mean when we sayParticipate. Participation isn't just showing up; it's investing time and energy into our success. It's thinking, (I have something to offer,) and stepping up. It's feeling a sense of pride in what we do and getting others on board.
When we participate, we become more inclined to Collaborate. We become aware of all it takes to run smoothly and know that the old trope about 20 percent of the people doing 80 percent of the work won't get us where we want to go. It drives us to think about who can help us get where we want to go because (a) we know we can't get there alone and (b) we'll be better for it in the long run.
Only by participating and collaborating can we Elevate OLLI to become the key resource for adults over 50 as our vision aspires. If we want to live up to our vision and become the key resource in our area (not just one among many), we must participate and collaborate whenever, wherever, and however we are able. We must operate in such a way that when someone new moves to the area or needs a fresh start or wants to explore a new idea or passion, their first step is to come to OLLI.
Each of these actions is grounded in the belief that OLLI is a joyful organization in which to participate. To watch OLLI grow to new heights over the last couple of years, to hear laughter every time I pop into a classroom, and see smiles abound when I look around and on Facebook, I know our belief in what we do, and the joy it creates has never been stronger. As we deepen our participation and collaboration, there's no limit to the elevations we can reach by 2022.
As my year as President of OLLI comes to an end, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to every member of this wonderful organization. It has been a truly great year for OLLI on the Hattiesburg Campus and the Gulf Coast Campus, and it is due to member participation and enthusiasm. Our members are our best recruiting tools. You told the OLLI story to friends and neighbors and as a result we had over 300 first-time members join the organization this year. This brings our total membership to over 820, the largest it has ever been.
The Advisory Board has been a very hard-working and cooperative group of members who have donated so much time and energy to making OLLI an organization of which we can all be proud. It has been my pleasure to work with them, and I owe each and every one a sincere thank you.
I want to give a special thank you to the Strategic Planning Committee led by Vicki Daughdrill. This committee has been meeting since August 2016 developing a Long Range Plan that lays out goals and growth strategies for the next five years. It is designed to provide a guide for the future of OLLI and a way to track our progress.
I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to our Director, Brett Harris, his staff and student workers. I cannot say thank you enough to these individuals for the help they have given me this year. They are the oil that keeps this machine humming. Without the staff and students, OLLI would require dozens more of volunteers to do their tasks. As our Director, Brett has brought stability to the organization and has great new ideas to move us into the future. Some of his ideas have already been implemented and very well received. I am sure others will be implemented soon.
In closing, I say thank you to all members of OLLI for making my year as President such a pleasure. I trust you will give the incoming President, Betty Dettre, and the incoming Advisory Board the same level of support you have given me.
Best wishes for OLLI's future and thanks again for your support.