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Life is like a train ride — hop aboard the ALL Express

by Mary Schaefer, president, Lincoln Land Community College Academy of Lifelong Learning
Mary Schaefer

My eighth-grade algebra teacher at Grant Middle School in the early 1970s was a beginner teacher named Sally Cadagin. Some 47 years later, we crossed paths again when she encouraged me to become a member of the Academy of Lifelong Learning (ALL) at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC). After joining ALL and serving a term on the board of directors, I am now president of this active adult member organization, due in large part to that same algebra teacher (who also served as ALL president last year).

It’s funny how some people pass through your life, disappear for many years and then reappear when least expected.

Recently, I came across an article, “Life is like a journey on a train,” that was published on “Lessons Learned in Life,” a social media site. Life is like a train trip, the article says, in that people get on and off as you go. A lot depends on your station stops and the routes you take. Some of the people on your journey will step down and you will miss them greatly; others you may totally forget.

The final lesson is that you never know when you will step off that train and leave your seat empty, leaving behind your legacy and memories for those who continue to travel on the train of life without you.

My train route has taken me to the ALL station. As I enter this new phase of retirement life, I plan to always strive to pursue new interests, spend more time with family and friends, and relax and read more (while trying not to watch the stock market daily).

Through ALL, I am meeting new friends. I’m embracing the knowledge I’ve gained through ALL programs, and I’m certainly enjoying all the social events ALL has to offer.

ALL, which is open to adults 50 and older, is a social and learning organization. It helps older adults grow and develop new friendships or renew old ones. You don’t have to be retired to join us!

We’re always looking for ways to expand programs of interest to our members. If there’s something you’d like to learn more about, let us know. Our special interest groups have a vast appeal.

This summer, ALL has added a range of pop-up events, among them a wildflower hike at Lincoln Memorial Garden and Nature Center, an ice cream social at Washington Park and pickleball at Iles Park. Our continuing summer programs including a golf league, bike rides, movies, breakfast roundtable discussions and more. In July, we hosted a dinner at the new Broadgauge restaurant in Petersburg, followed by the Theatre in the Park play, “Company,” at New Salem.

We have an active book club that gets together for enlightening discussions. If writing is your thing, our Scribes group meets monthly to write on various topics. And our History Hunters group hosts discussions on a variety of regional, national and international historical events and people. We may have the only area-wide mahjong group; it meets weekly and is open to ALL members. We have hosted two, four-week training sessions on how to play mahjong, and I’m sure we’ll host another one in the fall, as more people have expressed an interest in learning how to play this challenging Chinese tile game.

Some of our programs meet in person. Others offer a hybrid approach, meeting both in person and via Zoom, allowing people to participate from the comfort of their own homes or in person, but still stay engaged with other members.

Join us for ALL’s Fall Kickoff, scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 18 on the lower level of Menard Hall at LLCC. Representatives from our special interest groups will share information about programs planned for this fall and winter. There’s no reason to stay inside and hibernate this winter; join us to socialize at our events!

The kick-off theme is “Exploring Nature”. Members will decorate tables with nature topics so you can learn more about the world and environment around us. Refreshments and snacks will be served.

My life train will pause Aug. 18 at Menard Hall for the Annual Kickoff. I hope you’ll join me there. This event is your free ticket to learn more about the Academy of Lifelong Learning!

To join us at the Kickoff, please call 217-786-2432 to pre-register. Email us to receive a new member packet with more details about ALL, or call 217-786-2432.