The opportunity to converse with many members during recent times gave me reason to question how we have managed the post-COVID reality better than most volunteer organisations. I now believe there are 2 reasons for this.
The first is our philosophy of encouraging our members to remain healthy in mind, spirit and body, and the second, the establishment of structures to provide the opportunities for this to occur. My respect for our original members in forming these structures is now beyond measure.
Some quick research shows that these people had very little precedence to follow so their forward thinking and ability to form sound structures must be admired. No one could have predicted the rapid changes that society would have to handle and yet, our U3AM is still vibrant and active in providing so many activities and socialisation opportunities.
To indicate how our forebears had to work with a clean sheet, I use an incomplete summary of the rapid initial development of U3A.
- 1971: Toulouse University, France, introduced a summer school fee to service classes for retirees. In the mid 1970s, other European Universities followed suit but many dropped their fees.
- 1984: Cambridge University, UK, used community facilities so classes could be year long. Lecturers were expected to volunteer time for classes and members to assist with administrative tasks.
- 1986: Concept was brought to Melbourne and expanded to include recreational and hobby activities. It quickly spread to other parts of Australia.
- 1991: U3A Manningham commenced. We encouraged lay people rather than academics to lead classes and break from any university influence and it has established what is still our basic structure today.
Let us continue to have courage to emulate our ‘pioneer’ members and take the risks in developing new activities to further enhance our philosophy. Let us also acknowledge and acclaim that many of these original members are still contributors and active participants with us.
The article in our previous newsletter regarding our activities with Aveo at its Roseville Retirement Village may have created some misconceptions. We have not entered into any specific relationship with this organisation nor do we endorse them over any other. Over the years, we have run classes or performed in virtually all retirement villages in Manningham and currently operate in 3 of them. The arrangements are always mutually beneficial as we cater for similar interests and age groups. It should be noted that U3A Manningham had its beginnings in a retirement village.
All members are reminded that we will be operating Summer School in January. No enrolment fee applies but a ‘gold coin ($2) donation’ applies to each class held at The Pines. The activity classes may attract extra cost depending on the activity or venue. Please remember that the COVID pandemic is not over. Do not attend classes if you are feeling unwell and please wear a mask, particularly if you can’t socially distance. In conclusion, here’s wishing all our members a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you everyone for a wonderful year at U3AM.