STATE of SEL, December 2020

I want to thank our membership, our Board, our Executive Director, Rob Albertson, our volunteers, RUMC and especially our instructors without whom we would have no programming. You educate and inspire us all. You have made this, our 30th year, the amazing success that it was. Without you we are nothing!

This has been an incredible year and a year. Late last December, the Board hired Rob Albertson to serve as our new Executive Director. Rob started in 2020, and has had a fast, steep learning curve. Winter session went off without a hitch at the DOD. Rob lined up our spring classes, sent out registration information, got 90+ people to sign up immediately and then the pandemic set in.

In an emergency board meeting, the board chose to close our in-person spring session and offer the registrants the opportunity to donate, defer or receive a refund. Most selected one of the first two options. At the meeting Rob invited John Baumbusch to join us. He and Rob talked about a new to us technology, Zoom. They offered to investigate and find a way to introduce online learning to SEL. The Board was looking for any way to help our members stay connected while quarantining at home.

Rob and John with the help of Dan O’Lone and Clive Gillon put together zoom classes which we tested. Rob then produced a beta session, and pre-summer session to continue testing and improving our zoom experience. We continuously informed you, our members, of what we were doing and hoped you would join us. Summer session followed with each session gaining in attendance.

For fall, Kathleen Rieter, a former board member, an amazing volunteer and mentor to Rob decided she wanted to help Rob with programming. She formed the Wednesday-Thursday team with Steve Osheroff and Kathryn Gomard to produce content, communicate with attendees and handle technical issues. They have also come up with additional one-time programming events and we are eternally grateful for all their work and dedication. They have also done the same for our upcoming winter session.

Early on in the pandemic, our office manager resigned which put Rob at a disadvantage being 3 months into a job he was just learning and now needing to take on additional responsibilities. Fortunately, Michael Moore, our Treasurer was able to step in and take over some of the administrative duties. I became more involved with day to day activities. Allen Buckley, a board member, did some training with Rob. Bill McClain helped with technology issues and we all worked to ensure Rob’s success. The proof of that success is continuing to offer outstanding programming with our members gaining more confidence with technology. Rob’s zoom training classes and one-on-one training were big factors. Thank you Rob for such a successful year.

The fact is SEL is thriving! Our goal to reach out to seniors is ongoing. We have classes scheduled five days a week with classes ranging from yoga to wars to classes on religion to art. We hope there is something for everyone. Our budget is balanced and we have money in reserve. We applied and received the government’s Payroll Protection Program loan for businesses during Covid 19. This loan money should be a windfall requiring no repayment. With increasing dues to 60 dollars we are hoping to increase our technology and our footprint globally on zoom. We also have an Amazon Smile account. It would be great if you could add us to your Amazon account. It costs you nothing but gives us an additional revenue stream, If you have any questions on the budget, contact Mike.

This year could not have been possible without your Board. Clive Gillon served as VP and helped get our online programming going. He decided to resign and we want to thank him for his service. Mike Moore was appointed Vice President in October. He will continue on in that role next year. He will provide continuity and guidance.

Marge Irace has been an amazing secretary keeping outstanding minutes and is excellent at brainstorming. She also served as the head of the nominating committee.

Bj Joseph has been over our outreach program. Prior to quarantining she made trips to libraries, civic and religious organizations and anywhere she thought people might be interested in learning about SEL. She worked tirelessly for you.

Allen Buckley, served as the board member over operations and finance, always ensuring we were aware of all things financial and making sure we were in compliance with our nonprofit status.

Birdel Jackson had great fundraising ideas especially to celebrate our 30th year but the pandemic set in. He has always been a great sounding board throughout my tenure.

Gail Rockburne is over volunteers. She helped Rob with in-person volunteers and then coordinated with him during our online classes identifying and working with volunteers to ensure members got their links to their classes.

Bill McClain was over technology but did so much more. He served as an instructor and also had a way of looking at things from a different angle making you re-examine and rethink ideas before arriving at a decision. I always admired this in him.

At our annual meeting we voted to amend the by-laws, decreasing the time to submit changes to the bylaws from sixty to twenty-one days. We also held elections. Starting January 1, 2020, Bill McLain will be President, Allen Buckley, Treasurer, and Birdel Jackson, Steve Osheroff and Ricki Brodie will serve on the Board of Directors. Michael Moore, VP, Marge Irace, Secretary, and Gail Rockburne have another year on their terms.

I want to congratulate our newly elected board and I want to thank all of you who served with me. It has a privilege and an honor. You all made me a better person and President. I couldn’t have done it without your help.


Ricki Brodie, President SEL

State of SEL Organization as of April 15, 2020

I hope those of you who celebrate Easter and Passover were able to share the holidays through social distancing and share the teachings and joy with families and friends.

We are experiencing strange times and trying to find new normals in our lives. We, the SEL Board and our Executive Director, Rob, recognize the sense of community and learning we provide to our members. On March 13th, we held an emergency Board Meeting and decided our goal was to continue providing these things to our members in a manner that will keep everyone safe. Fortunately, Rob has a background in distance or online learning and presented a plan to work with our volunteer instructors to create online content. At the same time, we learned that we had a record number of people who early registered for Spring Session.

The Board decided to lead other lifelong learning organizations by agreeing to shutdown in-person classes early on. We sent letters to the early registered with a choice to donate, defer or receive a refund on the monies received. Within 9 days we had all responses and were able to add to our coffers offsetting some of the losses from the session. We also decided to use these registrants as part of a beta test for our online learning initiative. In other words, as instructors produced content, we would roll it out, hold classes and iron out the kinks. We would be using Zoom as the platform. We also held classes on how to use Zoom.

Due to the Coronavirus, at yesterday’s Board Meeting we decided that the Summer Session will be by distance or online learning. We will evaluate Fall and Winter as we get closer to them. Rob will be working on recruiting and training instructors and hosting the classes among his other duties. The classes may be interactive discussions, lectures, videos, PowerPoint presentations, etc. Some may be limited in size by the instructors and the rest will top out at 100. The fee will remain at $55.00 for the session. Offerings will be listed in our MailChimp newsletter. We will not be printing and mailing brochures for both safety and financial reasons.

Each class will be offered at a specific time each week. We will not have 2 classes at the same time and we will not be limited to Tuesdays and Thursdays. The instructors will work with Rob for calendaring. Also, if you miss a class, and if the instructor agrees to have his or her classes recorded, you will be able to watch a missed class through a SEL learning management system, which will enable you to have access to the classes via our SEL website. You may be able to take more than the 5 classes that in-person attendance allows.

As a nonprofit we need to keep expenses down. We have been monitoring our budget and identifying opportunities for cost savings. Michael Moore, our Treasurer, and Rob have been very mindful of our finances. Fortunately, we have the ability to move forward with our programs. We are investigating the possibility of eligibility for payroll protection from the federal government.

The Board and especially Rob have been working hard to ensure our continued success but more importantly, have been looking for ways to keep you, our members engaged. We will keep the Zoom session open for 15 minutes following each class for interaction with instructors and fellow members as a means to socialize. We will also be creating a blog where you can interact with your peers.

Thank you so much to the members of the Board, Rob and the instructors. In addition to the Board, I want to thank John Baumbusch for reaching out to Rob and strategizing on ways to move classes forward.

It has been trying but also a pleasure to serve as your President in keeping SEL relevant in our lives. Stay safe, maintain social distancing and keep washing your hands!

Ricki Brodie

SEL President