At North Shore Senior Center, we believe that retirement can be an opportunity for exploration and reinvention. This was the case for Van Billington, a Glenview resident who, at the age of 63, found himself an official “retiree.”
“My company was relocating to Springfield, Missouri, and I didn’t want to move, so I opted for retirement,” he said. However, after having spent 28 years in the field of association management and becoming an executive director, Van wasn’t the type of fellow to devote the next few decades to watching daytime TV.
“I was bored and I needed something to do,” he said. “I first came to North Shore Senior Center as a volunteer in the Social Services Department, where I worked on clerical projects. I liked the discipline of being a volunteer. It gave a sense of order and routine to the week.”
As time went on, Van discovered other Center offerings. He joined the Gone Fishin’ Club and started attending the free Tuesday morning lectures sponsored by the Men’s Club.
Since 2002, the Village of Glenview has taped selected Tuesday programs for broadcast on its cable station, GVTV. A team of volunteers handled the taping and editing, but eventually, their ranks dwindled and the station was finding it difficult to cover our Men’s Club lectures on a regular basis. With the goal of keeping a steady stream of new content available for its viewers, GVTV staff asked our Men’s Club officers if they could find volunteers willing to do the tapings on Tuesdays using the station’s equipment.
A handful of Men’s Club members—including Van Billington—offered to help. The Village of Glenview donated two cameras and related equipment for the project and provided training for our aspiring videographers.
“We learned on the job,” said Van. “I had never done anything like it before and I thought it would be good to try something new.” As opposed to just watching TV, Van was actually learning how to create TV. He began to recognize that the familiar medium was far more complex than it appeared. “This process has made me more aware of media presentations and TV programs and how the camera cuts between shots,” he said.
After Men’s Club programs are filmed, GVTV volunteers edit the footage and burn multiple DVDs for the Center’s use. Over the past year, the Men’s Club volunteers have taped 23 Tuesday programs and have expanded the project’s reach to Northbrook, Wilmette and Skokie’s cable TV stations, which now regularly air our Men’s Club programs.
As a volunteer effort, the Men’s Club video project illustrates what teamwork can accomplish. Part entertainment, part enrichment, part public relations, it embodies the mission of North Shore Senior Center. It also demonstrates how retirement can present new opportunities in the realm of lifelong learning.
The Mission of North Shore Senior Center is to foster the independence and well-being of older adults, enhance their dignity and self respect, and promote their participation in and contribution toward all aspects of community life.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the
number of seniors age 65 and older in 2010 was 40,228,712. The
projected number for 2030 is 72,091,915. Twenty years after that, the
number of seniors in the same category will be at 88,546,973. Those
seniors will have new needs and concerns not experienced by their
parents. Many will be disabled and greater numbers will suffer from dementia and experience increased isolation. Who will understand and meet their needs?
North Shore Senior Center will. We have been in the business of serving
seniors since 1956 and have built a reputation of caring, competence
and professionalism. We, better than many organizations, possess the
experience, combined with a vision for the future, that can sustain today’s
seniors and those of tomorrow. We are the “go to” community organization
for local clergy, police and community members who know of seniors
needing help or who need education themselves to address the needs of
older community or family members. Our reach even extends internationally
as we provide individual case management services to an increasing
number of local seniors with families living abroad.
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