This fall, more than 250 eager students flocked to the Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College. They weren’t undergraduates or continuing education students, but rather members of an enriched learning program for older adults known as SOAR (Society of Active Retirees). Thanks in large part to a two-year, $60,000 grant from the Community Foundation, they were able to enroll in fascinating classes on topics as diverse as genealogy, social media, jazz performance, Egyptian history, Art Nouveau, yoga and opera.
SOAR is a community-based, nonprofit, lifelong learning initiative that has been affiliated with Wayne State University’s Farmington Hills Campus for a decade. That program currently serves more than 800 members.
With its growing senior population, Macomb County is an ideal venue for a SOAR program. In the fall of 2014, Macomb Community College (MCC) took the initiative and launched SOAR Macomb. As with the SOAR Oakland model, all classes are taught by volunteers from the college and the community. Seniors pay a $50 fee each semester, which allows them to enroll in up to 10 SOAR Macomb courses.
According to SOAR Macomb program director Debbie Komar, the response has been extremely positive and interest continues to grow. “There’s been an outpouring of appreciation and enthusiasm from students and volunteers alike,” Komar says. “We’re growing the program in creative ways and offering even more college-quality courses for older adults in Macomb County.”