The Inside Scoop - For Members Only
Dear Encore Learning Member, 

Welcome to The Inside Scoop, our electronic newsletter for members only. Please enjoy this issue, and share your feedback by email. We always look forward to hearing from you.
Volunteer Elizabeth Hickey.
It's National Volunteer Appreciation Month!
At Encore Learning, we take pride in our amazing volunteers. We have over 150 volunteers including VCAs (Virtual Class Aides), instructors, committee members, and board members.
When it came time to brainstorm topics for our April newsletter, our volunteers came to mind. It also happens to be National Volunteer Month. Without all of our devoted volunteers none of this would be possible! We asked a few volunteers what their favorite part about volunteering with Encore Learning is and what they have learned through their experiences. Here is what they shared with us.

Edward Rader, a VCA and member of Encore Learning for 10 years, says, “The organization works because of its volunteers, if people don’t volunteer things don't get done. It was not just me giving to the organization, it was me getting a little back in return. People want to give back to the organizations they take part in. Not only does helping out give you something to do but it also can have a major impact.”  

What we have learned is that Encore Learning helps further student’s education and allows them to meet new people, especially since classes are on Zoom. It is an enjoyable and safe way to meet people in your community.

Volunteer Gerry Fuller, a VCA and member for 10 years, said that it helps him feel more connected and involved when he is the VCA. He shared, “it is a way to keep engaged in the community, the problem with COVID as an old person is that you can get separated from friends, family and relationships, so Encore Learning is another way to develop new relationships and friends. It's important in your senior years to have an outlet like that.”

Another volunteer, Julianne Wojay, a VCA and a member for four years, stated, “I just have to keep learning and expanding. It keeps people moving forward, the students are engaged, and they love learning, and you can see their brains grow instead of their brains getting smaller in retirement. They are blossoming, and I think that is the neatest thing, you see people blossom during the class. They come in and they know a little bit but with some of them you can see that it all starts clicking.”

When asked about what is the most impactful thing about Encore Learning as a program, Volunteer Elizabeth Hickey, who has been a member for just over a year said, “There are multiple places where I think Encore Learning effects change, the biggest example is the people that participate, its cutting edge information, its things that people wanted to pursue all their life, and now they have a chance to dive deeply. It’s an opportunity for the students to expand their minds and to learn, to engage in community, rather than staying at home. I also think it's a great opportunity for the teachers. I’ve heard a lot of instructors saying that they love the opportunity to share something close to their heart that they might not be able to share in their work.”

Consensus from the volunteers is that one of the best parts about volunteering is getting to know your classmates and instructors. You have the opportunity to form a bond and a friendship that is unique to sharing the same interests. While taking classes you want to learn more about or even topics you are knowledgeable in, you can meet people with similar interests, while also expanding your knowledge of that subject.

Michelle Trahan, a special events committee member who plans member tours, states, “It sometimes challenges me to do things I wouldn't do otherwise, I don't picture myself that extroverted so when I’m doing things for the committee, I sort of have to stretch myself. Encore Learning is a wonderful organization because it provides a venue for people to get out of their house, meet new people, and stretch their minds.

Another volunteer Carol Fuller, VCA and member for eight years, shared, “You get exposed to things you wouldn't know a great deal about, even if you read the paper a lot, I now watch programs and read books and I have a whole different perspective on them.”

Volunteering doesn’t mean devoting all your free time, it can mean helping a neighbor or assisting someone in your class that might be struggling. Our survey of members indicated that 66% of respondents volunteer with other nonprofit organizations, 18% volunteer with political activities, 28% volunteer with a faith-based organization or church, 18% volunteer with a local government program, and 47% volunteer with Encore Learning. On average, volunteers spend around 10 hours per month volunteering with Encore Learning. 

No matter how much time you have to give, it matters, and it makes a difference. You are a part of Encore Learning and our volunteers have helped make this past year amazing and we cannot wait to continue learning together, as a community.
Alexandria Remembrance Recognizes Residents Lost to COVID-19
By Louise Kenny, Resident, Alexandria Remembrance Committee founder, and Encore Learning Special Events committee member.

Alexandria residents can recognize, honor, and mourn family members, friends, and neighbors who have died of COVID-19 at a temporary memorial comprised of white flags in Rivergate Park, at the base of Madison Street on Alexandria’s waterfront. The memorial, created by a citizen-led group from Old Town North (Alexandria) is titled “Alexandria Remembrance. With love, we remember our friends and neighbors lost to COVID-19.” Each white flag remembers an Alexandria resident who died of COVID-19. Flags will be added if additional residents succumb to the virus. As of April 16, when the Remembrance was dedicated, 130 Alexandria residents have died of COVID-19. The number is now 134. The display of flags will remain on the site from April 16 through June 21.
The Encore Learning Special Events committee is considering offering an event this fall about this and other commemorative efforts in the wake of COVID-19, along with a scholarly lecture about Eastern and Western traditions about honoring the dead. Send ideas to
March and April Special Events Tours
Since our last Encore Learning Newsletter members have participated in several virtual tours of outstanding American Art Museums. On March 25 thirty members "traveled" to the Minneapolis Institute of Art where they were treated to an hour-long docent-led tour of some of the highlights of the Museum. Members discussed several works of art ranging from a contemporary Native American sculpture to ancient Jade carvings, as well as a video demonstration of a Japanese Samurai soldier dressing for battle.
On April 8, seventy Encore Learning members were treated to a repeat visit to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas for a Springtime Walk through their fabulous Sculpture Gardens. The tour ended with an informative Q&A session where many questions were asked and answered and many observations were shared.
There were also two visits to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Our first tour on
March 2 (Women’s History Month) was one which examined the portrayal of women in art throughout different moments in American history. The tour on April 14 offered our members an overview of the significant collection on American art housed in the museum. Our last tour on March 20 featured a lively discussion about America’s First Ladies as presented in the National Portrait Gallery’s current exhibit: Every Eye is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States.
Member Annual Meeting

Encore Learning will host our Annual Member Meeting on Thursday, May 20 at 10:00 AM. You must be a current member to attend. Check your membership by logging in to Member Account Manager. The date will be shown under My Account. Connect to the meeting online

Attention Members: You received an email from us on April 20 with the link to the online ballot. Please submit your ballot as soon as possible (but no later than 10:00 AM on May 19), we need a quorum to validate the election results.
Fall 2021 is in the Works!

Encore Learning’s Academic Programs Committee is working on the Fall 2021 lineup of courses. At this time we anticipate most of our courses will be offered virtually. If you have been thinking about being a Virtual Class Aide, please sign up to be notified about summer training. Send a message to  
Staff Corner
Our recent survey about volunteerism had a great response from 150 members. We intend to do more short, snapshot surveys on different timely topics. Know that responses only took 2 minutes, and we value your time and input. We are also now posting a very short three-questions survey that is displayed in the participant's browser when a special event concludes.

Our course evaluations are the most important feedback we receive. Your input helps our Academic Programs Committee and instructors improve the course content and instruction. Your ratings and comments are reviewed by staff and a cadre of volunteers -- know that we are listening.

Encore Learning is closely following federal, state and local policies about social distancing to determine the status of our fall programming. We will provide an update at our Annual Member Meeting on May 20. Join us! If you have a friend who is not yet a member of Encore Learning, now is the time to join and stay connected over the summer. As one member shared "You magicians have done a superb job. Virtual classes allowed more of us to attend any one class. I thought the way this class was conducted was quite equal to an in-person class. I did miss interacting with fellow Encore Learners. I hope Encore continues with both in-person and virtual classes."

~ Lora 
Lora Pollari-Welbes, Executive Director

Save the Dates:
  • Member Annual Meeting, Thursday, May 20 at 10:00 AM (be sure to submit your electronic ballot by May 19 at 10:00 AM)
  • Fall Course Preview, Thursday, August 26 at 10:00 AM (virtual)
Welcome New Members

In March 2021, the following new members joined Encore Learning. Please be sure to give these folks a warm welcome.

Ellen Berick
Mariclaire Borowy
Elaine Furlow
Mort Glassberg
Carla Grosz
Jean Henceroth
Philip Vasta

THANK YOU to Lora Pollari-Welbes, Theresa Sims, Ann Gordon, Joan Curry
and all of you who kindly refer friends.

Encore Learning would like to gather members who joined in 2021 for a virtual Class of 2021 hangout. If you are interested in participating, send us an email or give us call and reference New Member Hangout.
Remember that many of our virtual Encore Learning Presents events are recorded and may be found on our YouTube channel
We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Inside Scoop. If you would like to submit an article or share some photos of members participating in Encore Learning activities, please email us at

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