For the past 25 years, the Mohawk Valley Institute for Learning in Retirement (MVILR) has provided opportunities for local seniors to “learn, live, grow, move, think, socialize and create” as they transition from years of hard work to productive retirement.
MVILR recently partnered with Mohawk Valley Community College’s Center for Corporate and Community Education to continue providing local retirees with rich learning opportunities.
After calling SUNY Polytechnic Institute home for the last two decades, MVILR is now located on MVCC’s Rome campus. And its members are excited about the new larger space, dedicated classrooms for their courses, state-of-the-art special event spaces, and accessible parking.
“I have been an active member of MVILR for over 20 years and have enjoyed taking so many interesting academic and special interest classes that I was never able to take while pursuing a nursing degree,” says member Cynthia DeTraglia. “I have made many new friends over the years who shared my excitement to learn and stay mentally and physically active, and I am very excited that MVILR has newly partnered with MVCC.”
“I’m totally looking forward to MVILR’s new affiliation with MVCC Rome,” says member Nancy Ketz. “Being an educator for more than 35 years, I’ve always been a fervent advocate for lifelong learning. Whether we appreciate the diverse offerings to promote brain health as we age, or if it’s simply the joy of learning and socializing, this program gets an A-plus.”
Each year, the organization offers a wide variety of classes on subjects such as art, music, literature, computer science, finance, law, social studies, health and wellness. Beyond that, MVILR’s special interest groups enjoy other social and recreational opportunities. According to Program Coordinator Sofia Piccione, one of the most popular activities is Mahjong, a tile-based game developed in 19th-century China.
Piccione adds that when mapping out each year’s programs, she tries to keep classes interesting and diversify the range of offerings.
“It’s so important for us to hear from our members,“ she says. “We survey our membership and ask for their feedback on things they like, things they want to see more of, and we’re definitely getting more interest in the computer science realm.”
MVILR also offers one-time special events based on the time of year. This year, the organization invited members to the Utica Curling Club to gear up for the Winter Olympics.
“This one-hour lecture covering the sport of curling was paired with a tour of the Utica Curling Club, which provided a chance to see the space, equipment, and ask questions about curling so that members were prepared to be informed spectators of the Winter 2022 Olympics,” says Piccione.
Not only does MVILR promote learning, mental, and physical health, it also provides seniors a way to socialize, make new friends, and helps guide those adjusting to retirement. Many members have worked hard and been active all their lives, so MVILR’s offerings make retirement a pleasant and productive “next phase” of life. And MVILR helps members explore activities they never had the chance to experience while working.
As it matures as an organization—and in a new and expanded location—MVILR is looking to build relationships with other community organizations. Since taking over as program coordinator, Piccione sees such partnerships
as very beneficial to its members.
“We’re going to partner with Cornell Cooperative Extension in the spring, and they are going to host a class for us at the botanical gardens in Westmoreland. Our members can learn about gardening and then have some hands-on practice.”
Like many nonprofit organizations in the Mohawk Valley, MVILR has been challenged by the global pandemic and had to pivot programming to a virtual setting, which was a learning experience for both the organization and its members—an experience that has opened many new doors for the future of its programs.
“One of my favorite things has been introducing this organization to all the efficiencies that technology brings and how we can continue to use it to provide a varying degree of courses via Zoom,” says Piccione. “We’re also exploring a hybrid option and other third-party learning platforms so that members can have some added perks to their annual membership and be able to explore some online material from different organizations that we may be able to partner with.”
The Community Foundation is one of MVILR’s trusted partners. Through support from multiple donor-advised funds, the organization was able to successfully transition from SUNY Poly to MVCC. The funding helped with moving costs and getting everything back up and running again in a new location. Piccione and the team at MVILR are looking forward to partnering with the Community Foundation while enriching the education and lives of local retirees.
Whether you or a senior you know is looking to improve health and wellness with pickleball, yoga, or meditation, or take part in a roundtable discussion of current events, MVILR can be your bridge to enhanced learning and living.