Osher Lifelong Learning Institute: The Greening of Waterbury

OLLI

For over 10 years, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the Waterbury UConn branch has offered quality learning experiences for older adults who want to engage socially and intellectually with peers and instructors.

“Our programs are community-responsive and rely on the expertise of volunteers to provide instruction in an area of interest to the community,” explains Brian Chapman, former OLLI Director. So when Nunzio DeFilippis (right), a passionate OLLI instructor, approached Chapman and said he wanted to help feed the hungry in his home city, “The Greening of Waterbury” program was created.

Supported by Connecticut Community Foundation’s grantmaking for older adults, “The Greening of Waterbury” is a tremendous collaborative food-growing effort that now produces nearly 10,000 pounds of fresh food annually.

“Our farm is located at Fulton Park on City property. The nonprofit Brass City Harvest already had control of the land and provides seeds and soil while our OLLI team plants all of the seeds, cares for the plants and delivers the produce to area soup kitchens,” explains DeFilippis. “Every year, we have about 15-20 volunteers who participate in the program. It is a significant time commitment since we work at least 3 days a week from March through October.”

Pathways funding is instrumental in supporting the needs of the program.

“All of the soil in Waterbury is contaminated, so we need to use raised beds for all of our plantings. The Foundation’s support has helped us secure organic fertilizer. And moving forward, the grant will be used to install a new irrigation system, which will conserve water, save time and effort, and increase productivity,” adds DeFilippis.

The benefits of this project are countless for the community and the OLLI group. “Not only are the volunteers feeding the hungry, but they have a unique opportunity to engage socially with their peers, improve their physical health and interact with younger generations through partnerships with undergraduate students and the Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury’s LACE program,” remarks DeFilippis.

OLLI Interim Director Jonathan Draper sums it up well. “OLLI and the UConn Waterbury campus could not be more proud of DeFilippis and all of the dedicated gardeners. Their commitment to improving their own lives, and the lives of the community around them is truly an inspiration.” Helping to provide a one of a kind opportunity for older adults to improve their personal and social well-being, while supporting the needs of the community – Timeless Impact.

OLLI Interim Director Jonathan Draper sums it up well.

“OLLI and the UConn Waterbury campus could not be more proud of DeFilippis and all of the dedicated gardeners. Their commitment to improving their own lives, and the lives of the community around them is truly an inspiration.” Helping to provide a one of a kind opportunity for older adults to improve their personal and social well-being, while supporting the needs of the community – Timeless Impact.

2017-05-19T07:56:56-04:00 April 3, 2016|2016, Grantees, Stories|