When the pandemic hit a year and a half ago, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College (OLLI at BCC) didn’t fold up or reduce its programming. Instead, staff and volunteers quickly switched to an online platform and offered more than twice as many classes, talks and special events as it did the year before. Why? Because they knew how important OLLI at BCC’s programs were to the community – providing opportunities for learning, engagement, volunteering, social interaction and more – all of which are essential for our quality of life and health. The result? OLLI at BCC’s membership soared to over 1,400 members, more than any other OLLI in Massachusetts.

They were able to do this so well because OLLI at BCC is volunteer-powered – its programs are both designed by and for people fifty years and older (while being open to all.) When you have the very people you serve – bright, engaged, active older adults – involved in organizing every aspect of your offerings, you know they will be attuned to what people enjoy.

What else makes OLLI at BCC unique? OLLI’s courses have no grades, no tests, and no prerequisites – it’s all about learning for the joy of learning. And no one is turned away for lack of funds. OLLI offers member scholarships and free programming for those holding WIC, SNAP, or ConnectorCare cards.

Finally, OLLI at BCC partners with over 40 cultural and community organizations in the Berkshires, as well as all of the colleges in the Berkshires. As a program of Berkshire Community College, OLLI puts community at the center of all they do, including mentoring BCC students, collaborating on exciting initiatives like the Tech Impact Forum, Age Friendly Berkshires, and much more. Whether you’ve lived in the Berkshires all your life or just moved here, joining OLLI at BCC is a great way to meet interesting new people, exercise your mind, and help make the Berkshires an even better place to live.

Kelly Anderson is sponsored content senior contributor.