Brookings OLLI honored for volunteerism

Courtesy photo: From left are Benda Berseth, Volunteer of the Month; Paula Tursam, Volunteer of the Month; Dianne Hawks, Volunteer of the Month; Linda Brandt, Volunteer of the Month; and Allison Schmitt, Helpline Center.

BROOKINGS – The Helpline Center recently announced that the Brookings OLLI volunteers were named the October 2021 Volunteers of the Month, an area-wide award program sponsored by the Helpline Center and First Bank & Trust.

OLLI has been an active, nationwide group for many years.

South Dakota was one of the last states to get started in 2015, but thanks to four women in Brookings, it was able to launch in the community.

Linda Brandt, Dianne Hawks, Benda Berseth and Paula Tursam were part of the group that supported and encouraged the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to establish classes in Brookings.

They continue to work with the board of directors and Curriculum Committee to set up classes and programs in the area; often teaching classes themselves or finding instructors in the area to match the needs of OLLI participants. During the last two pandemic years, they continued that drive and enthusiasm to provide lifelong learning opportunities to senior citizens and others. They taught classes in-person and online, and found programs of interest to keep individuals stimulated during some pretty rough times.

Kathie Tuntland with OLLI said, “I am very grateful for having had the ability to expand my mind, keep active, and see friends through OLLI activities. They personally encouraged many people to join OLLI and continue learning about the world around us.”

”These four active, learning ladies were there at the beginning and continue today as leaders, teachers, and participants. They give of their own time and resources to provide community opportunities through OLLI,” she added. “They developed virtual learning classes and showed participants how to stay connected with each other through classes and social activities. This fall, they offered many in-person and Zoom classes. OLLI changes the landscape and gives many a chance to see the world without leaving their homes.“

For information on volunteer opportunities or the Volunteer of the Month program, contact Allison Schmitt at [email protected] or call 211.

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