OLLI members Amy and Angela

Volunteer Information

Volunteers frequently report that spending time working with other intellectually engaged adults enhances their lives in a multitude of ways, from nurturing new friendships, tapping into professional skills that may have been neglected since retirement, to feeling pride in giving back to an organization that has given so much to them.

As one volunteer noted, “When you volunteer with other organizations you might give something to others (which is important, of course). When you volunteer with OLLI, you are the recipient of your work – you get to build your own community.”

OLLI offers a variety of options for volunteer work, for those with just a little time to spare as well as those who are able to take on a larger commitment.

Returning to In-Person

While some OLLI programs, including volunteer activities, continue to meet online using Zoom, we are also returning to in-person activities under the guidance of Michigan Medicine Geriatrics. Stay tuned to the Weekly and the website for details. 

Volunteer roles include:

Teach a class, lead a Study or Shared Interest Group

Volunteers teach OLLI classes, lead Study Groups, Shared Interest Groups, organize book discussions, provide foreign language instruction, and much more.

Proposals for Winter/Spring term classes must be submitted by October 31, but you’re encouraged to submit them as soon as they’re ready. October 31 is a strict deadline this fall. You can drop off a form, mail one in, e-mail it to julieba@umich.edu or submit a form online.

Lead a Study Group

Do you have a talent, skill, or burning desire to share a favorite topic with like-minded individuals? You don’t need to be an expert to lead an OLLI Study Group – you need only have the interest in a topic and the self-confidence to offer leadership for a learning experience. 

Lead a Shared Interest Group (SIG)

Do you want to organize and facilitate a new Shared Interest Group (SIG)?  If so, OLLI is ready to receive and evaluate proposals! 

A Shared Interest Group (SIG) brings together members who have a common interest that they wish to pursue indefinitely within a structure of meetings and activities designed primarily by the members of the group.  A SIG typically strives to develop a sense of community and friendship among its members even as it endeavors to enhance members’ skills, education and experiences.  A SIG is a participatory group in which all members are included in selecting topics to explore and researching information to bring back to the group.  

Applications and other relevant documents are available below:

Committee work

OLLI has many different committees from which to choose, based on your interests and experience.  They are:

  • Big Hearts for Seniors Committee: Big Hearts for Seniors is a program made up of five community programs including the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UM. The objective is to raise funds and awareness for these essential UM Health System community programs that enhance the quality of life for older adults. Contact Angela Bingham, anabi@med.umich.edu.
  • Development/Fundraising Committee: For those who have an interest or experience in development for non-profits, this committee offers and opportunity to find alternative means of funding OLLI programs and activities. Contact Susan Fisher, srf@ameritech.net.
  • Distinguished Lecture Series Committee: This is a sub-committee of the Lectures Committee (see below). These well-connected volunteers plan and implement the Distinguished Lecture Series Committee by brainstorming and recruiting speakers on themes of the committee’s choosing. Contact Frances Schultz, fschultz@umich.edu
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee: contact Craig Ramsay, craigie777@aol.com or Faye Askew-King, hfaskew@gmail.com.
  • Evenings with OLLI Committee: These volunteers conceive, plan, and publicize the four to six diverse group programs that interest people who want an educational and social event in the evening. Contact Stu Simon, stuart341@gmail.com.
  • Finance Committee: This committee develops financial objectives including an annual budget and input into the OLLI five-year strategic plan. They review and analyze expenditures and revenue and make recommendations on fees. Contact Stuart Lockman, stuartlockman@gmail.com.
  • Kickoff Committee: Plan and organize the annual OLLI Kickoff scheduled in Sept.  The committee identifies a speaker, corresponds with the speaker and Turner staff (invitations, instructions to the speaker and staff) organizes greeters and table volunteers, finalizes the auditorium arrangement.  It is the perfect OLLI  gateway committee - few meetings, few tasks, while providing a great opportunity to gain insight into the OLLI organizational structure. Contact Lynn Boyer, lynnboyer10@gmail.com.
  • Lectures Committee: These well-connected volunteers plan and implement the Distinguished Lecture Series and the Thursday Morning Lecture Series by brainstorming and recruiting speakers on themes of the committee’s choosing. Large group meetings occur monthly, with smaller subcommittee meetings happening in the interim between large committee meetings. Contact Jim MacBain, jmacbain@umich.edu.
  • Out of Town Trips Committee: Have you ever considered combining your participation in the in-person and virtual programs of the Out of Town Committee with actually functioning as a program lead on the Committee itself?  The Committee always welcomes new members to participate in identifying travel themes and destinations and planning the itineraries for the programs.  The Committee meets year round on the second Wednesday of the month from 2 to 4 P. M.  You can initiate your participation on this Committee by contacting the OLLI Out of Town Chair, Ruth Primas, at ruthp@umich.edu.
  • Social Interaction Committee: This committee creates opportunities to foster social interaction among members by planning and helping implement social opportunities separately or as a part of other OLLI events such as the OLLI Winter Open House and coordinating social support with other relevant committees. Contact Carolyn Russell, carolynhrussell@gmail.com
  • Strategic Marketing and Communications Committee: Angela Bingham, anabi@med.umich.edu.
  • Study Group Committee:  Volunteers on the Study Group Committee meet once/month, on average, to recruit study group leaders, develop and market study groups, and evaluate the courses offered. Contact Ann Tomlanovich, anntomlanovich@mac.com.

Other volunteer roles

Volunteers also support OLLI’s work through:

  • Serving as greeters at lectures and special events
  • Helping with registration at lectures
  • Filing and archiving OLLI materials
  • Proofreading flyers and brochures prior to publication
  • Answering phones, copying, and doing other tasks in the OLLI office

Contact OLLI to become a volunteer:

If you are interested in any of these roles, send e-mail to olli.info@umich.edu or call the OLLI office at 734-998-9351 and we will be happy to help you get started as a new volunteer!

You can also submit a Study Group Proposal Form online.