Wesley U bird watching

Wesley U Resident Favorites

Mary Kohli takes learning seriously. The Wesley Bradley Park resident spent her career working with life-long learning programs in Colorado and Washington. She retired as district supervisor for the Washington State University Cooperative Extension in Puyallup. She first learned about Wesley Bradley Park from members of her church, where she volunteers as an usher during Sunday services.

“I remain very involved in my local community,” Mary says. “I have also volunteered with the League of Women Voters since 1977, registering new voters, as an election observer in Pierce County, and trying to get people involved in their democracy.”

Embracing Wesley U

Not surprisingly, Mary favors the current events lectures at Wesley U. She signs up for as many classes and lectures as she can fit into her busy schedule. She recently suggested a speaker who will dissect this November’s Washington State ballot measures in a Wesley U lecture.

Wesley U offerings continue to expand as community members suggest topics, presenters, and interests. The spring catalog mirrors a continuing education catalog from a local community college. Programs range from multipart series and workshops on “Civil Discourse” or “Acrylic Brush Painting” to single classes like “The Green River Natural Area: Its History and What It Is Today.”

The curriculum also features pertinent aging-related topics like “Self-care for Caregivers” and “Nobody’s Fool: Why We Get Taken In and What We Can Do About It.” This one-hour class is led by University of Illinois professor of psychology Dr. Daniel Simons. He explores why we are psychologically vulnerable to scams and fraudulent schemes.

“I greatly enjoyed the recent class about civil discourse,” Mary says. “I also appreciated the series on Alzheimer’s disease. There are so many interesting classes at Wesley U. I love receiving new information and having my mind stimulated in new areas.”

Like Mary, Pat Theonnes, a Wesley at Tehaleh resident, signs up for numerous classes when she can find time in her busy schedule. A well-regarded abstract landscape artist, Pat sits on the Art Committee, participates in two book clubs and the garden club, and takes daily walks in nearby Discovery Park and Reflection Park.

“One of our community members planted over one hundred dahlia tubers, which the garden club maintains,” she says. “Every Thursday, we cut fresh flowers for the common spaces. I also bag dahlia blossoms and place them on the doors for residents who don’t go out as much.”

Pat finds it challenging to pick her favorite classes at Wesley U due to the large volume of quality presentations.

“I’ve taken so many classes, from making bonsai to Japanese flower arranging and woodburning class,” she explains. “As an artist, I love all the art class opportunities, but I also enjoy being surprised by a subject I don’t know.”

Pat attends Wesley U classes via her television, live, or in the theater with other community members. Mary prefers to watch the lectures in her room, though she occasionally attends live talks.

“I’ve just returned from a wonderful presentation by a woman from Ukraine,” she says. “The learning opportunities are endless here, starting with our community. There are so many residents who’ve had interesting careers. Wesley U greatly benefits from such an active and curious community who, like me, are interested in lifelong learning.”

It’s part of a lifestyle

Mary cherishes her solitary time in addition to socializing and learning from other community members. She begins each day with meditation and exercise, followed by reading the news. Pat also appreciates her independence in a safe place where people watch out for each other.

“The staff is very friendly,” she says. “Their kindness is one of many reasons I am very happy here. I find the campus peaceful and quiet, which I appreciate. There simply isn’t much to worry about. If something happens physically or mentally, it’s good to know you’re not alone.”

Pat and Mary also maintain active lives outside of their Wesley communities. Pat continues to paint, creating beautiful pastel abstract landscapes in alcohol ink. Mary remains an active board member of the Northwest Sinfonietta, a regional chamber orchestra.

“I have said many times that what I appreciate most about Wesley is I can have as much privacy as I want and participate as much socially as I want,” Mary says. “There is a great sense of community here, the feeling we live in a caring environment.” Though they live at different Wesley communities, Mary and Pat share a mutual enthusiasm every time the Wesley U catalog is released. It’s an excitement generated from a new roster of classes that will, no doubt, stimulate, enlighten and inform them and other students.