Special Programs

Notice: Until further notice, special events will occur virtually

Currently, our special events programming has been moved online or postponed until further notice. Please watch the OLLI at UNC Asheville Observer or contact us at olli@unca.edu for more information.

Advance Care Planning

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville regularly holds an advance care planning (ACP) workshops Stay tuned for the next date!  Workshops feature a panel whose members are experienced in addressing end-of-life issues. The discussion will include communicating your treatment wishes to loved ones and to medical personnel, ethical and legal issues, and the uses of advance directives.  Ample time will be reserved for questions. Assistance will be provided for anyone wishing to complete a legally valid advance directive, including the notarization required in North Carolina, using the NC ACP “Short Form”.

Preparation for you to do before the workshop:  Talk to your possible “power of attorney for healthcare”, the person who would make health care decisions if you are unable.  Click here for a video of a sample conversation, starring OLLI member Mary Campbell.  If you have internet access and a printer, click here to access a copy of the ACP Short form.  Please print the form, study it, and bring it to the workshop along with any questions you might have for the panel.

Here’s how to have your Advanced Directive (AD) added to the Mission Medical Record. Click here for a permission form; if you have not been a patient at Mission, fill it out. Get a copy of the notarized AD and a completed permission form (if needed) to Advance Care Planning at Mission by one of the following options: either ask a Mission representative at a workshop to do it, or, use the information at the bottom of the permission form to transmit the forms, by mail, fax, or email attachments.

The workshop will take place in the Reuter Center on the UNCA campus, at the north end of the campus map (Click here to see map). This workshop is free and open to everyone, adults of all ages. Co-sponsored by OLLI and Mission Health Partners. For more information, call OLLI, 828.251.6140 or email  olli@unca.eduClick here to view an event flier.

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Astronomy Club of Asheville

The Astronomy Club of Asheville meets the first Thursday of each month, from 7- 9 p.m., (except for January and July), with an interesting lineup of speakers and topics. OLLI members may attend the club meetings and stargazes, with club members on hand to advise and assist them in the basics of astronomy and the techniques of observing celestial phenomena. Meetings are currently all virtual.

  • Thursday, May 6, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
    • Observing with Skynet: Our Place In Space! – presented by Dan Reichart, PhD, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • For more information on the Astronomy Club of Asheville, visit their website at www.astroasheville.org.

Behind the Scenes at NC Stage

Go behind the scenes of professional theatre with NC Stage Artistic Director and co-founder Charlie Flynn-McIver.  Explore the themes of this season’s plays, talk with the actors, directors and designers about design concepts and the rehearsal process, and experience a scene or two performed live.  Join us for an insider’s view of how theatre happens!  Free and open to the public, this series is scheduled in the Manheimer Room when we meet face-to-face.  This ongoing series is currently postponed until further notice. For more information on NC Stage, visit their website. Check Back for Virtual Programming with NC Stage

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Blue Ridge Audubon Society

The Blue Ridge Chapter of the National Audubon Society has a mission to protect birds and their habitats and to promote an awareness and appreciation of nature. Blue Ridge Audubon Society schedules educational programs on the third Tuesdays of the month, at the Reuter Center when we are face-to-face, and for now online only. Programs are free and open to everyone.  Find out more at their website, www.emasnc.org.

  • Tuesday, May 18, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
    • Swallow-tailed Kites: Finding a Safe Place to Land – presented by Dr. Maria Whitehead


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The Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association

The Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association (CNPA) was founded in 1992 to promote nature photography in the Carolinas, to help conserve and preserve the diverse natural ecosystems in the Carolinas and to educate others interested in nature and wildlife photography. The association is divided into regions for more close-at-hand activities. The CNPA-Asheville Region’s goal is to develop a group that will more fully experience the beauty of Western  North Carolina through photography. Activities in the Asheville Region include monthly meetings, photo outings, seminars, workshops, exhibits, photo contests, and image critiques. The monthly meetings are usually held at the Reuter Center on the second Sunday of each month from 5:30-8 p.m. 

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Death Café

“Death Café” is an engaging gathering with storytelling and conversation about a topic that too often alienates people in our death-phobic culture. At Death Café participants break into small groups of five or six people and discuss personal stories related to the death of loved ones, loss of jobs, relationships or marriages, or loss or death of parts of ourselves. These programs are facilitated by Karen Sanders, Greg Lathrop, and Said Osio from Third Messenger. All programming is currently virtual.

  • May 21, 2021, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
  • Register Here
  • After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.  Please feel free to e-mail with questions at kcanderella@gmail.com.

You can learn more about Death Café by visiting: deathcafe.com/thirdmessenger.com and facebook.com/deathcafeasheville

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Fab Fridays Lunch & Learn Lectures

On  Fridays, 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. during the term, this series of lunch and learn lectures continues to delight and inform. Held in the Manheimer Room (Currently online only) Fab Fridays are free and open to everyone. End your week and start your weekend with Fab Fridays. Don’t miss these great programs.

March 26: The RAIL Project: Incarcerated Labor Remembered, with Dan Pierce

Between 1877 and 1880 an astonishing engineering and construction effort brought the railroad “up the mountain” from Old Fort to Swannanoa and Asheville, opening up WNC to the rest of the state and beyond. It is widely considered one of the greatest human accomplishments in WNC history. The names of engineers, legislators and financiers involved are well known. Little regard was given to the hundreds of unnamed laborers who actually built the railroad across the Blue Ridge Escarpment. At least 95% were inmates from the North Carolina State Penitentiary. Approximately 98% of those inmates were African American, the majority of whom were unjustly imprisoned in these early years of Jim Crow laws. At least 139 died due to illness or injury.

To honor the memory of these unsung laborers, the RAIL (Railroad Incarcerated Laborer) Memorial Project was created in July 2020 to share the true story behind this marvelous human endeavor. Daniel S. Pierce is the author of six books, most recently Tarheel Lightnin’, about how North Carolina’s became the moonshine capital of the world. He serves as Interdisciplinary Distinguished Professor of the Mountain South, and resident professional hillbilly at UNC Asheville where he teaches courses on the South, Appalachia, North Carolina, and the National Parks.


April 2: All About Covid, with Jacie Volkman

Jacie Volkman, MPH, CIC, FAPIC is the Director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology for Mission Health System in Asheville, North Carolina, faculty for the Institute for Healthcare Excellence, and owner of the consulting company Safe Patient Surveys.  She started her career as an epidemiologist in public health and has worked in hospitals in infection prevention since 2006.  Jacie received her Bachelor of Science in biomedical science from Texas A&M University and her Master of Public Health in epidemiology and biostatistics from Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health.  She has been certified in infection prevention and control (CIC) since 2008.


April 9: “Screening Race,” with Marsha Gordon

This program will focus on short films from the 1950s to the 1970s that engage with ideas about race, identity, and community. These nontheatrical films—including educational films, home movies, industry and government films, student films, and church films—portrayed the lives of those who were mostly excluded from the commercial movies being produced in Hollywood. Presented by NC State Film Studies Professor Marsha Gordon, who is the co-editor, with Allyson Nadia Field of University of Chicago, of Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film (Duke University Press, 2019), the program will include discussions of a student film about undocumented Mexican workers in a church sewing operation in downtown Los Angeles, a moving portrait of a young African American high schooler living in Watts on the cusp of the 1965 Rebellion, and a classroom film about a Chinese American girl who, against her father’s wishes, wants to be a ballet dancer.  Short clips from a selection of 16mm films will be shown throughout the lecture, and the audience will be encouraged to share their own memories of watching 16mm films in the classroom.

Marsha Gordon is Professor of Film Studies at North Carolina State University and an NEH Public Scholar. She is the author, most recently, of Film is Like a Battleground: Sam Fuller’s War Movies (Oxford University Press, 2017) and is currently completing a biography of the forgotten best-selling American writer, Ursula Parrott.


April 16: “Men’s Health and Urology”, Dr. Ryan Terlecki

Dr. Terlecki will discuss a variety of men’s health conditions, including prostate cancer and the importance of screening, enlarged prostate, erectile dysfunction, low testosterone, and other conditions related to male sexual and urinary health.

Board-certified and fellowship-trained reconstructive urologist Dr. Ryan Terlecki is a globally recognized leader within his field. As one of the few fellowship directors for programs approved by the Society of Genitourinary Reconstructive Surgeons (GURS), he is the only one to have trained at three prior GURS programs. Dr. Terlecki performs the highest annual volume of penile implant procedures in the state of North Carolina, and he is the premier regional expert in urethral strictures, Peyronie’s disease, male stress incontinence, buried penis, and male infertility.


April 23: “China, Surveillance Technology & Human Rights” with Jonathan Tetzlaff

China’s aggressive use of surveillance technology has garnered international attention in recent years, with many observers expressing concern that these tools are being used in ways that restrict human rights and seek to restrict political activity in Hong Kong, western China, and elsewhere.

Jonathan has visited China on multiple occasions over the years.  His first visit was in 1992, just three years after the Tiananmen Square protests when the country was largely undeveloped.  One of the poorer countries in the world at the time, China has — in only 30 years — become the world’s second-largest economy.  According to many sources, China has lifted more people out of poverty than any other country in history:  800 million people, an unparalleled achievement. 

In this fast-paced and fact-filled presentation, Jonathan will outline how technology is being used in China, with a particular focus on the Uyghur population.  He will display specific tools used by authorities to monitor the population and outline ways in which China has exported these tools to countries around the world. 

Jonathan C. Tetzlaff has been involved with international risk management since 1980.  Throughout his career, he has managed and consulted on complex situations and problems for government agencies, corporate entities, and educational institutions. Jonathan has been traveling periodically to China for over 25 years; his first visit was in 1992 (just three years after the Tiananmen Square incident).  Jonathan has a B.A. in International Relations and an M.A. in U.S. and Comparative Foreign Policy, as well as a CISSP, CBRM, and MBCI. His post-graduate study includes “certificate courses” at institutions including MIT and Georgetown University.  Jonathan will also touch on surveillance and free speech issues related to the COVID-19 virus and the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.



April 30: “Non-Surgical Options for Treating Joint Pain and Improving Function” with Christine Lehman

As we age “wear and tear” injuries may result in joint/muscle/tendon pain. Surgeries such as knee or hip replacement are often recommended. Christine Lehman has a passion for non-surgical interventions when possible. In this Fab Friday lecture, she will cover the nonsurgical options that have become available in the past years, including the use of orthobiologics, substances used by orthopedic surgeons to help injuries like broken bones and injured muscles, tendons, and ligaments heal more quickly. She will discuss what Medicare does and doesn’t cover in this field.
Dr. Lehman is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation. She graduated from Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed her residency at the University of Virginia Medical School in 2009.  She has pursued training and education in the non-surgical options to treat joint pain since 2010,  including a visiting fellowship at the renowned Bodor Clinic in Regenerative Medicine (CA) in the fall of 2014. Dr. Lehman is a member of the Interventional Orthobiologics Foundation and Orthobiologics Ethics Consortium.

May 7 –  “YMI (Young Men’s Institute) – 128 Years and Counting” with Tonia Plummet

The YMI (Young Men’s Institute) was founded in 1892 with a loan from George Vanderbilt.  When it opened in 1893 the building hosted a gym, swimming pool, funeral parlor, meeting rooms, doctor’s office and drug store.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the YMI fell into disrepair and the city of Asheville condemned the building.  There were plans to tear it down but thanks to the help of the community, YMI began its repair.  It is now on the National Registry as a historic site. Mrs. Tonia  Plummer, Executive Assistant and Operations Management of the YMI Cultural Center will give a presentation on the exciting history of this downtown treasure and the efforts to remodel and upgrade the existing building for future generations to enjoy.

Tonia Donay Bryson Plummer was born and raised in Old Fort, North Carolina.  After high school, she left the state and moved to Virginia.

Mrs. Plummer received a degree in Radiology Science in 1976.  She relocated to Savannah Georgia in 1977 and worked in the field of Radiology for 38 years, retiring in 2014.  She then moved to North Carolina to be a caregiver for her mother.  In 2015 Mrs. Plummer started working for the YMI Cultural Center on a part-time basis.  Her current position is Executive Assistant and Operations Manager for the YMI Cultural Center.

Register at this link. Once you have registered, you will receive a link to join.


May 14 –  Optimal Management of Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes in 2021 – Panel

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases among older Americans. Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and/or excess weight are risk factors for Covid-19. CDC estimates that one quarter of the 34 million Americans with diabetes are over 65 (most have type 2). Another 24 million of the estimated 88 million Americans with prediabetes are over 65. Type 2 diabetes management has changed dramatically due to an evolved understanding of the disease onset and progression, new categories of glucose-lowering medications, and the advent of technologies to deliver insulin and monitor glucose. A panel of three seasoned Asheville-based Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES) cover these topics along with information about management programs around Asheville. Panel members are: Bill Flynn, MA, BSN, RN, diabetes clinician at Mission Health System;  Autumn Steen, PharmD, BCACP, CPP, clinical pharmacist in diabetes, Mission Health System; and  Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD,  BC-ADM, Diabetes and Nutrition Management Consultant.

Register at this link. Once you have registered, you will receive a link to join.


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Introduction to Medicare – Understanding the Puzzle

The Council on Aging of Buncombe County, in conjunction with the N.C. Department of Insurance’s Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), is hosting a series of classes on “introduction to
Medicare – Understanding the Puzzle”. The classes will explain how Medicare works, the enrollment process, how to avoid penalties, and ways to save money. The classes are held via Zoom and are free and open to the public. Residents who are new to Medicare, caregivers, and others who help senior citizens with their Medicare insurance should consider attending this informative class. The information presented is unbiased and accurate. No products are sold, recommended, or endorsed.

To register, visit the Council on Aging of Buncombe County’s website (www.coabc.org) or call the Council on Aging at 828.277.8288.

Medicare Classes: April – June 2021:

  • Wednesday, May 12, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Thursday, May 27, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Wednesday, June 9, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
  •  Thursday, June 24, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

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New Member Welcome!

Are you new to OLLI at UNC Asheville and the Reuter Center? Are you returning after being gone awhile? Come to the New Member Welcome to learn about all that OLLI has to offer and about ways to get involved. Meet other members and learn what it means to “grow through life.” Our next New Member Welcome date is TBD. Please watch the newsletter or email Jacqueline Lowe at jdlowe@unca.edu for the link to join.

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OLLI Authors

OLLI Authors is a book talk series designed to recognize the many very talented poetry and prose writers among OLLI members.  OLLI Authors feature readings by two published authors.  OLLI Members will be the featured writers, reading from their works. This series is free and open to the public. Click here to view the OLLI Authors List that reflects books written by OLLI members while members of the OLLI community.

  • June 24, 2021, 4:30 p.m.
    • OLLI Authors, a quarterly reading program, provides a forum for talented OLLI writers to showcase their creative efforts.  Each reading features two poets or prose authors. The series began in early 2017 and was interrupted by Covid-19 in the spring of 2020. October’s program marked the resumption of the series via Zoom online.
      • Please email Jacqueline Lowe for the Zoom Link: jdlowe@unca.edu

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Symphony Talk

Symphony Talks are an entertaining and educational way to hear about the music to be performed at the upcoming Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO) Masterworks Concerts.  ASO music director Darko Butorac and guest conductors appear with the soloist for upcoming concerts to talk about how the orchestra prepares and to offer ways to listen to the performance. For more information about the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, or to find out how to purchase tickets for performances at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, visit ashevillesymphony.org

• Symphony Talks are postponed until the symphony resumes its concert series.

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Western North Carolina Historical Association

The Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) is excited to bring you a new virtual lecture series. Each month, WNCHA will feature an expert on various topics in Western North Carolina history and culture.

  • May 27, 2021, 6:30 p.m.
    • Kieta Osteen-Cochrane on the Von Ruck Sanitarium: Asheville native and WNCHA board member Kieta Osteen-Cochrane will present on the Von Ruck Sanitarium, one of many such facilities built in and around Asheville to treat tuberculosis patients in the late 1800s-early 1900s. The treatment of TB brought many changes to Asheville, including a boom in tourism and other such medical facilities. This program addresses a key period in the development of the city and region. Please pre-register for this event.

These events are brought to you by the Western North Carolina Historical Association and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville.

For questions, please email Trevor Freeman at education@wnchistory.org


World Affairs Council

The World Affairs Council organizes fascinating lectures and discussions that aim to advance international awareness and foster Western North Carolina’s global ties. These lectures are sponsored by the WNC chapter of the World Affairs Council, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC Asheville, and UNC Asheville Department of Political Science.


WAC members and UNCA students admitted without charge.  Single admission, $10.00. Co-sponsored by WAC-WNC, OLLI, & the UNCA Political Science Department. For more details about programs, consult the WAC website.

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