Pasadena Area Liberal Arts CenterBy Susan Kujawa
Pasadena Village's Executive Director, Katie Brandon, is always searching for more ways to build community and expand partnerships. Recently, she and a contingent of Pasadena Village members met with members from PALAC, the Pasadena Area Liberal Arts Center. PALAC is a nonprofit organization formed in 1955 to provide its members with opportunities and incentives for lifelong learning. To achieve this goal, PALAC strives to provide a welcoming and accepting environment that expands each participant's perspective by encouraging diverse thoughts and authentic opinions. As a community of seniors aging in place, Pasadena Village also seeks to offer opportunities for learning, along with personal development, creative activity, and social engagement.
Conversations between Pasadena Village’s Cultural Activities co-chair LuCinda Haagenson, Vice President-Communications Dick Myers, Katie Brandon, and Member Services & Volunteer Coordinator Priyanka Kumar and PALAC Safari Chair Marylouise Lau and Program Chair James Liu started in January. After we learned that Prakash Shivastava was a member of both organizations, a subsequent meeting in March was held which included Donna Jaffee, PALAC’s Membership and Diversity Committee Chair.
We discussed the similarities of both groups; for example, both are currently offering members the popular Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions program and excursions to cultural and historic locations (which PALAC calls “safaris”). Donna expressed how some of their members needed help with technology, transportation, and connections to resources, all of which Pasadena Village could address but were beyond the scope of PALAC’s offerings. She, James and Marylouise explained the depth of PALAC’s literary discussion groups and how their trained volunteer facilitators bring up nuances in the texts and how their members delve into the content over several meetings. All agreed that our two organizations have much in common. They believed that our two groups needed to get to know each other better.
Donna shared some of our free programs with PALAC members and many attended sessions of the 1619 Discussion Group hosted by Dick, the March 23 presentation on the legacy of Owen Brown with Michele Zack at the Altadena Library, and the May Pasadena Celebrates Older Americans Month resource fair – and PALAC was one of the partners who hosted a table. Donna has now created a community newsletter for PALAC members that lists some Pasadena Village community events each month.
And on May 24, a group of 20 PALAC members came to Pasadena Village for a hosted reception to meet members of Pasadena Village and explore topics of mutual interest. Their discussions included the pros and cons of using Zoom for programs, the frequency of book club gatherings, discussion group topics, and leadership structures. Furthermore, the experiences described by some of the members of PALAC resonated with the Villagers. James Liu, PALAC Program Chair, comments on the movie group he hosts: “I look forward to the movie groups. It indulges my love of movies and I also enjoy the challenge of finding different films that will attract and challenge our members.” PALAC President Jane Crane describes her book group as “a community of people who love to discuss books and want to make close friends.” Meanwhile, the buzz in the room verified that we do, indeed, have a lot in common.
The meeting enabled Village members to learn about PALAC and for PALAC members to discover the strong, supportive community formed by the Village. We are looking forward to partnering with PALAC in many ways. We all appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with another group that shares a commitment to lifelong learning and engagement in the community. We are looking at each other’s program calendars with keen interest to find out how we can build connections between our organizations. You can learn more about PALAC at palac-pasadena.info and about Pasadena Village at www.pasadenavillage.org.