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Events, Conferences, and Program Offerings

The Older Learner Center:

  • Fills a leadership/support role in the Kent County Caregiver Resource Network.
  • Sponsors public forums, conferences, trainings and events within the community on issues relating to an aging America.
  • Administers a number of community-wide program initiatives - including Senior Leadership Grand Rapids.
  • Produced Successful Aging, an award winning television program that is distributed nationally on video.

The Older Learner Center offers adults 45 and older opportunities for life-long learning and enrichment.These include:

  • Fourth Friday Club
  • Computer Basics Series
  • Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Training and Luncheon
  • Grandparent/Grandchild Summer Wellness Day Camps (2)
  • Health Education Programming
  • Senior Leadership Grand Rapis
  • Encore Reading Club
  • Life History Club
  • Senior Health Club
  • Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Educational Support Group
  • Computer Club


2015 Health Education Programs

A number of Health Education programs are being offered to Kent County residents 60 and older can participate in two health education programs.

The Health Club and Fitness Program provides opportunities for fitness/wellness through aerobic exercise, strength training, and increased personal fitness. A faster paced Strength and Stretch Class is designed for individuals looking to strengthen and stretch their muscles.

These programs are being made available in part by Kent County Senior Millage and Older Americans Act TitleIIID funding from the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. A small co-payment is required for participation in Kent County Senior Millage funded programs, and a suggested donation is asked from participants of the Older Americans Act funded programming. See the attached brochure for additional details.

Registration is limited, call (616) 234-3483 or online at


Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Program

Get the workout you need without putting stress on your joints! You will get a great cardiovascular and strength workout in the water. Participants are encouraged to work and progress at their own pace while enjoying GRCC's Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse Pool!

These classes meet weekly from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Registration is limited to 30 participants. A suggested donation of $1 per session per participant is strongly encouraged. However, no one will be denied participation based on inability to pay.

This program is available to Kent County residents 60 and older thanks to Title IIID Older American's Act funding administered by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. Two sessions are being offered over the next year:

Session One  is 12 weeks from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on Monday mornings from October 6, 2014 through December 22, 2014. Suggested donation is $12.

Session Two is 25 weeks from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on Thursday mornings from January 15, 2015 through July 2, 2015. Suggested donation is $25.

For more information or to register contact Mike Faber in the Older Learner Center at (616) 234-3483 or online at

Cultural Agility Workshop

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 from 12:30 to 4:00 PM

Grand Rapids Cultural Center

2250 East Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids MI 49546

The Woodrick Diversity Learning Center (WDLC) provides powerful and thought provoking tools in safe venues that bring together diverse groups of people to explore and address issues of culture, race and inclusion. The WDLC would like to engage with participants of the Older Learner Center to build cultural agility. According to many global experts, including CultureCatch in Switzerland, "

Cultural Agility enables you to adapt your style to communicate, negotiate, and build trust in cultures different from your own." The session will help create new, strong, culturally conscious relationships internally among the participating liaisons.

Specific Results

• Understand common terminology by utilizing key terms in interactions.

• Expand your knowledge of the concept of Unintentional Bias.

• Practice Sustained Synergy.

• Build self-awareness. Understand your own cultural biases, behaviors, and worldviews.

• Consider culture and adjust your communication style to bring unity.

• Adapt to cultural differences and variations.

• Share the wisdom in the room.

• Gain knowledge about other cultures. Immerse yourself in "being the other" and seek out new experiences.

• Assess your development in each of these areas.

This half-day workshop is provided without charge with support from the GRCC Foundation Older Learner Center Scholarship Fund.

Registration in required.  Register by calling Mike Faber in the Older Learner Center at (616) 234-3483.  Space is limited to 25 people so register today!

Senior Leadership Grand Rapids

In the fall of 2014, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Grand Rapids Community College and the 20th year of Senior Leadership Grand Rapids, we are offering two free community events. These include:


Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 – 9-11 a.m.

Grand Rapids Cultural Center

2250 East Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Registration Recommended – includes continental breakfast and parking

The Power of Belonging: This enlightening and entertaining talk by author and master storyteller, Tom Rademacher, will focus on celebrating the everyday connections that bring and hold us together. Tom is best known to Grand Rapids Press readers as the teller of tales about men, women and children, both struggling and soaring. Since leaving The Press as a full-time columnist five years ago, he has continued to freelance and write a Sunday column. Born in Grand Rapids, Tom has had a significant relationship with Grand Rapids Community College: as a national award-winning athlete in distance freestyle swimming, a 1974 graduate, a 20-plus year adjunct instructor in the English department, and as the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

Community Connection: Have you ever thought about how you might make a real and lasting contribution within the community? Join gerontologist, educator and author, Mike Faber, to learn how you can use your unique gifts and talents to help make a difference within the community. Mike started his higher education journey at Grand Rapids Junior College in the early 1980s and returned to Grand Rapids Community College in 1998 to develop the now nationally recognized Older Learner Center. Mike is grateful to GRCC for the many opportunities that he has been given during the years to impact the community for the better.


Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 10 a.m. to noon

Grand Rapids Public LibraryMain Library

–Ryerson Auditorium/Level

3111 Library Street NEGrand Rapids, MI 49503

Registration Recommended – includes refreshments and parking

Join nationally recognized gerontologist, author and speaker, Dr. Henry Holstege, to learn how you can make a difference in your community. Dr. Holstege’s inspirational keynote address will be followed by a resource roundtable session designed to provide you with an opportunity for informal sharing and discussion with local non-profit agencies seeking volunteers. Participating agencies will represent a wide range of community needs and interests, including the environment, education, animals, the arts, health care, aging, advocacy/assistance, family and children.

The mission of Senior Leadership Grand Rapids is to develop and empower mature adults to assume leadership roles that contribute to the well-being of the community. For more information on Senior Leadership Grand Rapids, or either of these events, contact program director Mike Faber at (616) 234-3483 or visit the web site at:

Registration:  Is through the Grand Rapids Community College Older Learner Center either online at: or by calling Mike Faber at (616) 234-3483.


Fourth Friday Club

This new club is open, on a walk-in basis on the fourth Friday of each month, to anyone 45 and older. Join us monthly for interesting speakers, stimulating discussions, thought provoking video presentations, and other fun activities. Bring your lunch and we’ll provide a beverage, snack or dessert.

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Dates: March 28, 2014 July 25, 2014 January 23, 2015, April 25, 2014 August 22, 2014 February 27, 2015, May 23, 2014 September 26, 2014, June 27, 2014 October 24, 2014 (This club does not meet November and December)

Where: Room 132, GRCC Learning Resource Center, 140 Ransom Ave. NE.  Location subject to change due to campus renovations. Consult this page to confirm monthly room assignment.

Cost: $3 per session suggested donation.  Includes: parking, beverage, snack/dessert and programming

No pre-registration required. Contact Mike Faber at (616) 234-3483 or with any questions.


Computer Basics Series

This free four-week series is open to anyone 45 and older, and covers a variety of basic information on computers and their operation. The free classes in this series will be held in computer lab 213 of the GRCC Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. on four consecutive Fridays in May.

1. Anatomy of a Computer—May 9, 2014 - Familiarize you with the different parts which make up a computer and how it all goes together.

2. Computer Security—May 16, 2014 - Learn how to keep your computer safe—by understanding the different kinds of attacks; hardware and software impacting security; how personal habits can effect security either good or bad; and the different types of fixes that can be applied once computer security has been compromised.

3. Free Computer Software—May 23, 2014 - Learn how to access and use some of the best computer software available for free.

4. Introduction to Microsoft Office—May 30, 2014 - Focus on the basic components of Microsoft Office through presentation and hands-on application of some of the basic operations of the different Microsoft Office programs.

Instructor Bill Clifford - Bill holds multiple degrees and has a wide variety of employment experiences involving use of computers. Bill has lived in Grand Rapids for the last 24 years, volunteers in the GRCC Older Learner Center Computer Club, and enjoys building his own computers.

Registration is requested to ensure access to a computer at each of these sessions. Register by contacting Mike Faber at (616) 234-3483 or


Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Training and Luncheon

When: Friday, April 18, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: GRCC’s DeVos Campus 108 Sneden Hall, Multipurpose Room 415 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Cost: Suggested donation of $5 per participant


Keynote: Dr. Henry Holstege Nationally recognized sociologist, gerontologist, author and speaker Dr. Henry Holstege will share information on trends and issues facing grandparents raising grandchildren in our modern culture.

Presentation: Local, State and National Resources Gerontologist, educator, and author Mike Faber will share information on local, state and national resources to assist grandparents raising grandchildren.

Lunch and Small Group Discussion

Presentation: Aging and Wellness Dr. Henry Holstege and Mike Faber, co-authors of the recently published book Introduction to Aging: A Positive Interdisciplinary Approach will share practical information and tools designed to inspire, encourage and empower grandparents in their personal aging and wellness journey.

Registration is through the GRCC Workforce Training office by calling (616) 234-3400 or online at

This event is made available with funding from the Older American’s Act Title IIIE administered by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan.


Grandparents and Grandchildren Summer Wellness Day Camps - Two camps to choose from.

Improve your relationship with your grandchild through an interactive setting, focusing on the 7 Dimensions of Wellness, and learn the tools to help your grandchild grow into a confident, strong and caring individual.

Adventure Day Camp, Ages 8–15

Week 1: June 11–Olympic Games (Social/Physical)

Learn outdoor games you can play with your grandchildren as we divide into teams and compete for ribbons. Meet at Millennium Park, 1415 Maynard Ave. SW, Walker. Dress comfortably and bring a swimsuit, towel and sack lunch if you would like to make a day of it. Access to the Millennium Park splash pad and beach are optional at your expense—daily entrance fees are $3 per senior and $2 per child.

Week 2: June 18–Strawberry Picking (Social/Environmental/Physical)

We will head to Delanges Redberry Farm, 5723 Port Sheldon, Hudsonville, for strawberry picking. We’ll then make a special treat with some of our harvest. You will be responsible for the cost of your strawberries.

Week 3: June 25–Kayaking (Spiritual/Social/Environmental/Physical)

Enjoy a kayak trip down the Thornapple Kellogg River—a slow and easy river to float. The cost of the kayak will be an additional charge—$20 for a single kayak, and $34 for a double. We’ll meet at 8200 108th St., Middleville. Plan to arrive by 9:30 a.m. and be on the river until about 12:30 p.m.

Week 4: July 2–Scavenger Hunt (Social/Physical/Intellectual)

We’ll head to a local mall for a team scavenger hunt based on the TV show The Amazing Race. We’ll meet in the Food Court of RiverTown Crossings mall, 3700 RiverTown Parkway, Grandville.

Wellness Day Camp, Ages 5–12

Week 1: August 6–Nature Crafts & Fishing (Environmental/Spiritual)

Take a guided journey through the woods and identify birds and other things found in nature. We’ll work on a nature craft and go fishing together. Please bring a fishing pole for you and your grandchild—we’ll supply the worms. We’ll meet at Grand River Park 9473, 28th Ave., Jenison.

Week 2: August 13–Gardening and Nutrition (Physical/Emotional/Intellectual)

Take a guided tour of the Blandford Nature Center garden and learn the basics of gardening from a Master Gardener. We’ll also learn nutrition basics, ways to get creative with meal planning, and quick and easy recipe ideas. Then we’ll create and sample a new recipe together. We’ll meet at Blandford Nature Center, 1715 Hillburn Ave. NE, Grand Rapids.

Week 3: August 20–Making Nature Your Gym (Physical/Social/Intellectual)

Join us for physical fitness testing, group workout, and individual goal setting using nature as our gym. And finish up with a swim! Meet at Millennium Park, 1415 Maynard Ave. SW, Walker. Dress comfortably and bring a swimsuit, towel and sack lunch if you would like to make a day of it. Access to the Millennium Park splash pad and beach are optional at your expense—daily entrance fees are $3 per senior and $2 per child.

Week 4: August 27–Volunteering (Occupational/Spiritual/Emotional)

We’ll give time and resources to help others in the community by helping Kid’s Food Basket provide nutritious dinners for Grand Rapids area children in need.

Each four-week day camp meets every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon between June 11 and Aug. 27, 2014 – except kayaking on June 25, which will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Grandparents of any age from Kent, Allegan, Lake, Mason, Osceola, Mecosta, Newaygo, Montcalm or Ionia counties are encouraged to attend with their grandchildren, ages 8-15 or 5-12 years old.

Rain: All events will be held rain or shine—arrangements have been made for shelter if needed.

Cost: A donation of $20 per one grandparent and one grandchild is suggested for each four-week session. For an each additional grandparent or grandchild an additional $5 donation is suggested.

Registration is through the GRCC Workforce Training office by calling (616) 234-3400 or online at

These events are made available with funding from the Older American’s Act Title IIIE administered by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan.


 Encore Reading Club

We have teamed up with the Grand Rapids Public Library to discuss selected readings or engage in interactive presentations by community experts on a wide range of aging-related topics selected in advance by club membership.  Monthly club meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. at the Main Library, 111 Library St. NE.  New participants are welcome to join the club at any time throughout the year.

Registration is available by telephone at (616) 234-3400 or online at


Life History Club

Because everybody has a story, but sometimes we just need help telling it…let us help you. Individuals 45 and over can learn about and explore life review, family genealogy, and other avenues of sharing their personal life history.

Club members have the opportunity to participate in peer led quarterly sessions that include:

  • The sharing of tools, techniques, and ideas on how to document your family history and share your unique life story with others.
  • Networking and opportunities to share with others who have similar interests in life history, genealogy and life review.
  • Opportunities to receive peer input, support, and advice regarding your life history/genealogy materials.
  • Light refreshments.

Sessions are held quarterly from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of January, April, July, and October of each year in the GRCC Applied Technology Center. A $30 fee provides for twelve months/annual membership. For more information or to register contact Workforce Training at (616) 234-3400 or online at


Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Educational Support Group

"Are you raising your grandchild?" This program offers you the opportunity to share common experiences; better understand your own needs and the needs of their grandchildren; locate resources; and gain valuable information from community professionals.

This group meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at:

United Methodist Community House (2nd floor Boardroom)

904 Sheldon Ave SE, Grand Rapids MI 49507

This educational program, offered without charge, is open to any grandparent, regardless of age, involved in helping to raise her/his grandchild(ren). For More information please contact Mike Faber, program director, at or (616) 234-3483.

The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Educational Support Group is a joint partnership of the GRCC Older Learner Center and United Methodist Community House with funding from the Older American's Act Title IIIE administered by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan.


Computer Club

This is an opportunity for individual and peer learning, formal computer instruction, socialization, and most of all FUN.

Membership in this club entitles participants to many additional perks and benefits including handouts and instructional materials, and a free annual luncheon banquet.

The club meets on Friday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in a second floor computer lab of the Applied Technology Center. Free parking is available to club members under the GRCC Applied Technology Center. Handicapped parking is also available under the building, with easy access from the parking area to the elevators and on to the lab where club sessions are held.

Annual membership in the Computer Club is only $50. If you are interested in more information or wish to become a member please contact program director Mike Faber at or (616) 234-3483.