Why I do what I do for Encore
Encore offers folks insights into writing, reading, cooking, crafts, local tours, art, philosophy, health, lifestyle, history and so much more. The offerings change as new instructors are recruited or volunteer to share their expertise.
Helping this dynamic not-for-profit group run smoothly makes me feel like a contributing partner, actively making my area richer.
What I do for Encore
The treasury role was available when I joined Encore in 2015 and I had some (minimal) experience from previous organizations. In truth, few folks want the post as people are afraid of the math, the paperwork, etc. But, hey, someone has to do it and it pushed me out of my comfort zone.
I take care of banking, making deposits and reconciling statements. On a day-to-day basis, I pay the bills for our phone, office supplies, brochure printing, insurance, rent, staff, etc.
I report our position to the Board at our regular meetings and make suggestions about money management, banking fees and the like. Annually I prepare a budget.
I also empty the mailbox (I live across from the Post Office) and deal with mailed-in registrations. The twice-yearly Registration is a very busy time. Funds are counted and deposited the day after.
In my five years, I’ve become more comfortable in the role, learned much—often from my mistakes!—and have been recruited as treasurer for another organization too.
Volunteering gives back to the community, of course. It also gives me great satisfaction to help, to learn and to grow. Also, I work with a great group of volunteers who collectively know much about the area, our topics, the people.
Volunteering is a responsibility and also a great way to connect with and support my community.
I came to live in Alexandria about fourteen years ago from the West Island. I heard about Encore through The Glengarry News and investigated it at once, but I was unable to take any classes as almost all were offered during the day and I was still teaching at John Abbott College.
After a few years I retired, and one of the first things I did was join the Encore Book Club. I loved it, got to know the other members, and really appreciated the camaraderie and conversation we engendered together. Not too long after that, the lady who ran the Book Club stepped down and I was asked to take it over, as I’d taught English Literature for most of my career. I did so with pleasure, and the Book Club has proved so popular that we now have two!
Around that time, I started taking some of the workshops and courses being offered, and gave a few talks about Scotland and its literature, as I was born and raised there.
Then, as I am a writer myself, I started teaching a Creative Writing course which is still running, with several dedicated writers enthusiastically participating. It’s great fun, and very helpful to writers to share our writings with each other to get feedback and support. This attitude is typical of Encore: there’s a wonderful friendly atmosphere and openness there, a great feeling of community.
Since these early days of my own participation in Encore I have come to realize more and more the value of such an organization. It is completely non-profit, run by volunteers, and offers a wide range of courses and workshops geared to meet the interests of folk who want to try something new, who have intellectual curiosity and appreciation of “learning for the fun of it,” which is Encore’s motto.
I am now a member of Encore’s Board and its Curriculum Committee, and thoroughly enjoy helping to plan forthcoming non-credit course offerings from Ethics to Cake Decorating, Tai Chi to Interpreting Dreams, and to be part of shaping the present and future of this worthy organization.
I encourage anyone reading this to come and check us out. You won’t regret it, and you’ll make some friends!
I found out about Encore in 2004 or 2005 when Alexandria was having a town-wide sidewalk sale. Strolling the sidewalks, I came upon some lovely ladies (one who just happens to be a current Board member) doling out info about what was then “Encore Seniors Education”, a branch of Encore Cornwall.
I signed up and later attended my first Encore class, a session with Ronna Mogelon about wild edibles. And, with that one class, I was hooked on Encore!! Shortly after, in 2006, the group became Glengarry Encore Education as we know it today.
In June 2013, I joined the Board of Directors thinking that I might be able to start my first year slowly, somewhat of an observer. But, at my very first meeting, I was asked to please! please! please! take on the position of PR (Public Relations & Publicity). It’s an easy job I was told, and I was handed a folder with the names of contacts at The Glengarry News and Township offices.
I love my job at Encore! I’m responsible for trying to make sure that everyone knows, in a timely fashion, what is happening and when, and reporting on what did happen and how great it was!! I do this primarily through our Facebook page and our website, with occasional ads in The Glengarry News, and through the wonderful and free community support from both North and South Glengarry where I can post our list of courses on their website Events calendars and in their monthly columns in The Glengarry News.
Thanks to Encore, I was able to achieve something I thought totally out of my reach. I had a great fear of public speaking, scared enough to be on the edge of a panic attack if I had to stand up and speak before even a handful of people. Giving my monthly report before the Board had me literally shaking in my boots!! Over the years with Encore, I have become brave enough to stand up at our AGM in front of 30-40 people to give my annual report. I have even been a presenter at Encore telling my personal story of dealing with identity theft.
It’s a very special feeling, really a privilege, being a part of the small community that keeps Encore running smoothly while, at the same time, sharing all good things Encore with our Glengarry community.
Shortly after I retired, I attended my first Encore workshop in 2007 where I met the charming hostess, Dot Keher, who very quickly invited me to her house for soup. The next thing I knew I was a member of the Curriculum committee, a hostess, and a member of the Board.
Over the last thirteen years, I have taken on other responsibilities while working on the Board, but my preference is Curriculum. I feel that we have brought to you, the reader, a wide range of courses including philosophy, health, safety, computer, music, and painting, to name but a few. We have visited many interesting off-site places. The presenters always seem pleased to accommodate us when we contact them about giving a course. We are blessed with many talented and knowledgeable people in this area.
You will often find me hosting workshops. As a hostess, I contact the presenter as well as giving a quick reminder to participants. At the workshop, I give a brief introduction, prepare the refreshments, thank the presenter, tidy and lock up. I enjoy the good feelings that bubble over at an Encore workshop. Why not join us as a hostess?
I call the Board members my friends. We have had many fun times together at events such as “Back to the 60’s Dance”, performing in the murder mystery “Murder in Roaring Glen Norman”, a fashion show, and entertaining at the Annual General Meeting.
For me, Encore ticks all the boxes: life-long learning, social interaction and volunteering.
Audrey Nixon Crawford
About 15 years ago my wife and I found out about Encore from Thelma Woosey. She wanted us to attend one of the seminars and Thelma gave us one of Encore’s brochures.
On registration day we went to Alexandria to sign up for the class. While my wife did the registering, I looked around and watched what was going on and saw that the registration process was totally manual and paper-driven.
I went home, looked at the registration form, and, since I was a Systems Analyst, thought that I could mechanize the process. I suggested it to Sandra McCuaig and she thought it would be a great idea. I had it ready for the next semester’s registration day.
After that, Sandra convinced me, since I was retired and had a knowledge of computers and computer software, that I should share this knowledge with the members of Encore – I had never taught before this!
I set about developing a course ‘Introduction to Computers’. The next courses were ‘Computer Security’ and ‘Microsoft Word’ and ‘Excel’. I also developed courses on Windows 7, 8 and 10.
A few years back I was asked to join the Encore Board as Technical Advisor and that has been interesting and a lot of fun. At the Annual General Meetings, I set things up so our reports and statistics can be seen by all on the big screens.
“We need someone to chair the Encore AGM”. My response to these words was, “Maybe someone else would like to do it. I just want to take the courses.” After listening to a very convincing explanation that there would be no courses if there were no volunteers, I agreed to chair the annual general meeting. At the AGM I met the most dedicated volunteers with amazing background stories. I was hooked.
Glengarry Encore has enriched my life beyond measure. As Board chair and, now Curriculum chair, I have learned so much … how to run meetings and set agendas (the Glengarry Encore board members are very forgiving), how to publish books (who knew it should have an ISBN number?), how to apply for grant money (sometimes it is best not to know how much follow up work is required!)
At Encore I have had the pleasure of working with people who were my school mates and with others new to this community. They come from all walks of life. They bring experiences and skills that help make this a vibrant organization. They are my friends and mentors.
The most exciting day is picking up the printed copies of our new curriculum each semester. Glengarry Encore can be proud of the many interesting topics in the program. As you look at the titles also take note of the presenters. These are generous volunteers who live in our community and share their knowledge and interests. The talent pool in Glengarry is indeed wide and deep.
Looking back, I thank that person who refused to take “no” as an answer. In truth, “there can be no Encore program without dedicated volunteers”.
Our 7th in the series of “Stories from the Encore team: why we do what we do” is unique, special, ‘A Tribute to Bernie Carrière, – d., May 6, 2019; written by Sandra McCuaig’.
Moments come along in life forcing us to accept change. Bernie Carrière encountered such a time when, for health reasons, he was forced to give up a notable career, serving in countries like India and Europe with the Federal Public Service. Although devastating news, it was not destructive enough to discourage Bernie from taking a road less travelled with a new purpose. Bernie turned to Encore Cornwall and Glengarry Encore Education Centre in Alexandria where he discovered a new path to follow.
For the next fifteen years, Bernie introduced Glengarry Encore members to the immortal philosophy of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Emmanuel Kant, John Locke, and many, many others. The value of such priceless teaching flowed through Bernie like the blood in his veins. He spoke of the philosophers as though they were friends rather than subjects of study. He understood them and believed in their wisdom.
Philosophy studies questions such as: what is most real; is there a best way to live; do humans have free will. It is the study of general and fundamental questions of existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. At Bernie’s first session with Glengarry Encore there were 15 participants; however, news of this wonderful teacher travelled quickly and each following session the attendance grew until it reached thirty-five members and required a larger room. The town of Alexandria was philosophy bound!
Although a serious subject, Bernie had developed a skill for alleviating the depth of thought to which philosophy could reach. He would insert a humorous story or tell one of his famous groaner jokes. Hearing everyone’s groan, a mischievous smile would spread across his face, showing that he had achieved the lightness intended.
Bernie never missed a beat in his lectures. He arrived with itemized notes on reference cards specific to the lesson of the day. The cards, however, were only props; he never did refer to them. They were simply shuffled top to bottom as points were covered. When we took a coffee break, students would follow Bernie outside wanting to share and express their interpretation of the philosophy.
News of Bernie’s class spread throughout Glengarry. Who knew our little community would so love philosophy? Year after year, we students could not get enough of our favourite class. Bernie’s wife, Helen, became accustomed to opening their front door only to find four or five members of Bernie’s class in search of their Master Philosopher for a discussion.
Always generous with his time, Bernie presented several workshops of his favourite hobby, photography. With Helen, his partner in life and principal photo compositor, many of our homes boast frames of Bernie’s remarkable photographs. Our Glengarry Encore classroom where he taught, proudly displays one, the majestic Eagle, chosen by Bernie expressly for Glengarry Encore.
Benjamin Disraeli best describes our close connection with Bernie, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to him his own.” Although we are no longer able to share in Bernie’s company, Glengarry Encore will forever remember our dear friend and Master Philosopher.