An overdue thank you

Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter
May 4, 2018 10:00 a.m.

Last week I was talking about volunteers but they are not the only people supporting our organizations. Last Wednesday, Amelia Lifelong Learning had a party. Cookies and soft drinks at the Amelia Island Museum of History. We are celebrating 20 years of offering short courses and events to Amelia Island and Nassau County. Seeing everyone reminded me that it would be fitting to thank the people who are the reason for our success – the students, the instructors, the volunteers, and the Amelia Lifelong Learning board.

This is a community of learners, actively engaged in a variety of courses. Photography, history, folklore, fishing, literature, current events, and technology have been recent courses. One of my daughter’s friends was surprised that we were teaching a course on artificial intelligence. My daughter explained that people in Fernandina wanted to learn about new subjects, current events, and other enrichment courses. In short, we’re not stereotypical retirees.

While students are key to our success, we couldn’t do what we do without a group of dedicated instructors. They all enjoy sharing their knowledge with an interested group of students. Just to name a few, Ron Kurtz loves to share his knowledge of theatre and has crafted an interesting series of courses on plays that the Amelia Community Theatre sponsors with us. Bernie McCabe must rank teaching next to breathing. He has had a great series of literature courses and has a devoted following. Lea Gallardo shares her love of photography with all comers. Norman and Marilyn Wesley lend their love of literature to a variety of courses.

And we are getting more people interested in sharing their knowledge. This spring Sal Campanaro led a class through the origins and legacies of World War I. Last December, Rosemary Rillo shared her love of wines with an enthusiastic group. In June she will repeat the presentation with summer wines, some of which will be suitable substitutes for beer with barbecue. Next fall a new instructor, Mark Richardson, will discuss the age of the samurai in Japan.

We had two volunteers help pull the party together. Laura Kujawski and Jerry Bottorff are always ready to do whatever they can to help. Both have taken courses in the past. Last but far from least, I am grateful to the Amelia Lifelong Learning board; Toni Callahan, Adam Kaufman, Bernie McCabe, Kay Penner, Penny Reid, Jackye Rubin, Donna Scalia, Jerry Torchia, and Marilyn and Norman Wesley. They have helped me enormously, making the job of board president easy.
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Evelyn McDonald moved to Fernandina Beach from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. in 2006. Evelyn is vice-chair on the Amelia Center for Lifelong Learning and is on the Dean’s Council for the Carpenter Library at the UNF. Ms. McDonald has MS in Technology Management from the University of Maryland’s University College and a BA in Spanish from the University of Michigan.