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New Pen Pal Program for Cornellians
Big Red Writes (BRW) is a new Cornell pen pal program for employees, retirees, students, alumni and K-12th grade children of employees. BRW is designed to help cultivate relationships across constituencies and generations, reduce isolation and loneliness, and help children develop writing and storytelling skills.
Participants can request a pen pal from a specific constituency or will be assigned a pen pal at random. The pen pals can choose to correspond via email or USPS mail. Participants are expected to write to their pen pal a minimum of once per month.

After registering and being matched, a staff member from Work/Life in Human Resources or a BRW program volunteer will introduce you and your pen pal via email. All participants will be added to the BRW e-List, bigredwrites-L to receive updates, conversation prompts, and other resources. 

Please review these participation guidelines prior to registering for this program.

*Note: strict guidelines are in place for pen pals where one or both of the participants are under the age of 18.

Questions? Email  

Co-sponsored by Human Resources, Employee Assembly, and Cornell Retiree Associations
Retiree Spotlight: Gary Brandt
Retiree Spotlight is dedicated to sharing retiree experiences within our community. To share your story, email 

Gary Brandt, former OHR Senior Manager for Faculty & Staff Disability Programs, stays active in his retirement by writing, and released his first novel, As Beautiful As This, earlier this month. The book’s protagonist is Lt. Logan Giroux. Haunted by the mistaken killing of civilians in Vietnam, Lt. Giroux must seek the grace of God while fleeing the Army and his vengeful brother. Can Logan ever return home to his family and former life? Will his own father, Colonel Giroux -- who has three sons serving in Vietnam -- ever allow him back? This is the story of a large multi-generational American-Canadian military family with a century of distinguished service. The oldest son’s failure to return from his leave to the U.S. Army sparks a family conflict as big as the war itself. The complexity and the resolve of the members of the Giroux family are both its greatest strength and its biggest weakness. Follow Logan Giroux on his quest for understanding and moral redemption in this gripping novel.

Gary retired from Cornell in 2007, having served on the Employee Assembly for several years, including stints as the Chair of the University Assembly in 1999-2000, and staff liaison to the Faculty Senate. He taught the Advanced P.E. Hockey class for the Athletic Department for 10 years and worked as the coach and faculty advisor for the Men's Club Hockey Team. Gary grew up in the Finger Lakes Region where he played sports, and received several degrees while raising a family in Rochester, New York, and Sarasota, Florida.
Cornell Activities
Johnson Museum Book Club
Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 4:00 pm

The museum's fall reading series, which has been exploring the influence Italy, concludes with Risotto with Nettles: A Memoir with Food by Anna Del Conte.

De Conte’s personal story takes readers through postwar England and her expatriate life as experienced through food. Each chapter is accompanied by special recipes. Just in time for the holidays, participants are invited to submit and share favorite recipes of their own as part of this reading experience.

Registration is required to attend this free, virtual event.  
Webinar - It's Complicated: Family and Friends and Differences
Friday, December 4, 2020, 2:00 - 3:00 pm

We have witnessed a divide among perspectives, opinions, and judgments recently in the United States leading up to the national election. And, our family and friends may not share the same ideas leaving us to feel confused, concerned, and alone. The goal of this session is to talk candidly about relationships that we hold close and what to do in working out differences. We will address how to separate the issue from the person, when to lean in and when to back away, and skills for reflective listening.
Facilitator:  Reba McCutcheon ‘96, Associate Dean of Students, Care and Crisis Services
A Bird’s-Eye View of The Wall of Birds
Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 pm
December marks the five-year anniversary of the completion of the jaw-dropping Wall of Birds mural at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In this discussion, artist and Ink Dwell studio founder Jane Kim will share behind-the-scenes stories from her 17 months “on the wall.” Come hear Jane’s reflections on how the project changed the trajectory of her career and continues to influence her work and learn about exciting new Wall of Birds-inspired projects to come.
Cornell Family Cookbook and More
Share a little cheer and help the Cornell Alumni Association build a Cornell Family Cookbook while you plan your holidays this year. Browse posted recipes or submit your own!

The Alumni Association also offers cooking demonstrations on-demand from Cornell alumni, faculty, and staff. In addition, you can catch up on family wellness programs and more.

Or enjoy some Cornell Alumni Wine this season! The labels feature alumni-created renderings of Cornell’s vast campus. This year, they are also excited to share a downloadable gift of suggested recipes that pair well with the collection, created by current Cornell students in the 96th annual student-run business conference, Hotel Ezra Cornell.
Local Offerings
Aging Mastery Program Scheduled
Mondays, through February 1st, 2:00 - 3:30 pm*

The Aging Mastery Program® (AMP) will help you create your own playbook for aging well via actionable goals, sustainable behaviors, peer support, and incentives. The program, open to any adult age 50 and above who is a resident of Tompkins County, encourages mastery—developing behaviors across many dimensions that will lead to improved health, stronger financial security, and overall well-being. The value of this program for each individual is over $100, but Lifelong is able to offer this series FREE due to the generous support of NYS Office for the Aging and Tompkins County Office for the Aging.
Curriculum includes:
  • Navigating Longer Lives: The Basics of Aging Mastery®
  • Exercise and You
  • Sleep
  • Healthy Eating and Hydration
  • Financial Fitness
  • Medication Management
  • Advance Planning
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Falls Prevention
  • Community Engagement

Register through Lifelong by emailing to You must be able to attend at least 7 of the 10 sessions. 

*Please note: No Class January 18, 2021 (MLK). December 7th class time is 10:30 am-12:00 pm.
Inside the Cartoonist’s Mind: Creativity in Challenging Times
Tuesday, December 1, 2020, 4:00 - 5:00 pm

How do you make sense of a complicated world in a single panel? Award-winning political cartoonists Pedro X. Molina and Rob Rogers will provide a peek into their creative process, from headline to sketchbook to finished product. They will discuss the challenges they’ve faced, then share their screens and let participants watch their creations take shape. “Inside the Cartoonist’s Mind” is organized by Ithaca City of Asylum and funded by the Freedom to Read Foundation, affiliated with the American Library Association.

This free, virtual event is open to all, but subject matter is targeted to an older adult audience.

Questions? Contact Cady Fontana at the Tompkins County Public Library.
Team RWB Virtual Coffeehouse
Join Team RWB Ithaca in one of their bi-monthly zoom coffeehouses and meet or reconnect with other veterans and veteran supporters from around the Tompkins County area.

Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

The next coffeehouse takes place on Thursday, December 3rd from 7:30 - 9:00 am. Registration is not required, click here to join. Stop in just to say hi or stay the entire time!
Holiday Spirits At The Hangar
Saturday, December 5, 2020, 6:00 pm

Celebrate the holiday season and the close of 2020! Join the theatre for Holiday Spirits with the Hangar, a virtual mixology event where you’ll learn how to make your very own at-home cocktails and mocktails with a local bartender. Enjoy artistic entertainment, and can enter to win raffle prizes from local businesses! Proceeds from this event support the Hangar’s year-round artistic and educational programming.

Learn more at
Job Searching in Your 40s, 50s, 60s and Beyond (a class for Women)
Tuesday, December 15, 2020, 1:00 - 4:00 pm

This online class, offered by the Women's Opportunity Center, will explore ageism and the practical steps women can take to age-proof their resume, create an online presence, network, update skills, gain free work experience, target jobs, and stay inspired. 

To register, call (607) 272-1520 or email
Caring for Others
Alzheimer’s Association Presents: Effective Communication
Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 2:00-3:00 pm
This program explores how communication takes place when someone is living with Alzheimer’s. Learn to decode the verbal and behavioral messages delivered by someone with dementia and identify strategies to help you connect and communicate at each stage of the disease. Call (315) 472-4201 x227 to register.

* Please note these programs are being held virtually by the Alzheimer's Association, Central New York Chapter. When you register you will be sent an email with instructions on how to join. 
Fighting the ‘Infodemic’ of Misinformation on COVID
Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 4:00 to 5:00 pm

Cancer patients and caregivers are invited to attend this free, virtual education program on identifying reliable sources of information during COVID. Join Antonio DeRosa, Program Lead, Decision Navigation + Patient Support, at Weill Cornell Medical College, as he provides important tips and strategies for navigating the plethora of information about COVID-19 and how it relates to cancer patients.  A Q+A session will follow the presentation. Participants will also learn about support resources available locally and nationally through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 
Coping with the Holidays
Thursday, December 9, 2020, 5:30-7:00 pm

Holiday time can be especially difficult after the death of a loved one. Learn about ways to take care of yourself and honor your feelings as we head into the holiday season. This program from Hospicare includes a presentation followed by a discussion and support group. 

Programs are free and all are welcome! To RSVP for programs or for questions call 607-272-0212 or email
Cancer Resource Center Workshops
The Cancer Resource Center (CRC) has the following workshops available to those interested:
  • CRC/CMC Living Well with Cancer Workshop: meets virtually 5:30-7:00 pm on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next meeting, December 15th, will be a Virtual Game Night to take our minds off the news and holiday preparations and to have some fun! Click here to see past Workshop videos you may have missed.

  • Lymphedema Support Group: Wednesday Dec. 9 at 5:30pm. We will be attending the LANROC (Lymphedema Awareness Network of Rochester) to hear Dr. Rachel Farkas, a breast surgeon who has joined the team at Vegas Plastic Surgery. 

Please contact to receive the Zoom link for these workshops. 
Donations and Volunteer Opportunities
Card Making Supplies Needed
The residents at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services (CARS) in Trumansburg would like to send out holiday (mostly Christmas) cards to their families and are in need of the following donations:
  • Winter holiday/Christmas cards & envelopes
  • Blank cards & envelopes
  • Plain white cards & envelopes
  • Rubber stamps for clients to create their own cards (various holidays or designs). Please no embossing or metal dies.
  • Ink pads for rubber stamps
It is also crocheting season and CARS can always use yarn and crochet hooks (please no knitting needles).

For questions or more information, please email or call 607-275-5670 (Tuesday - Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm).
Cornell Military Network Seeks Board Members
Launched on Veterans Day 2020, the Cornell Military Network (CMN) promotes Cornell University’s land-grant mission by organizing military-affiliated Cornell alumni across generations in support of the educational, professional, and social advancement of service-minded Cornellians. By definition, CMN’s constituency is broad and includes anyone who has served in uniform, performed civilian national defense work, or is interested in military affairs. Membership is open to anyone who has attended Cornell for at least a day, taught at Cornell, or worked for Cornell and who supports the purposes and goals of CMN.
The CMN is actively seeking volunteers for board positions. These include a President, Secretary, Treasurer, VP of Events and Programming, VP of Alumni Relations, VP of Campus Stakeholders and three at-large board members. Prospective board members should be willing to commit a significant amount of time to the organization’s launch and be interested in steering its trajectory. The CMN is also seeking volunteers to serve on committees to advance the CMN’s mission. The committees include Finance, Communications, Events and Programming, Alumni Relations, and Campus Stakeholders Committees.
Click here for more information.
Miscellaneous Articles & Resources
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