A record turnout of 1,030 retirees from the RTC’s Brooklyn section at virtual Si Beagle classes in this pandemic year is a testament to the popularity and importance of the busy Brooklyn section, which dates back more than 25 years.
While everyone misses the pre-COVID camaraderie over bagels and coffee in the morning and tea and pastries in the afternoon, Brooklyn section coordinator Evelyn Dorell reports retirees have made the best of a bad situation with well-attended Zoom classes. She notes that there were more men than usual in some classes.
“I am so grateful for our Si Beagle program going remote,” retiree Donna Guzzardi said. “It’s been a lifesaver for me as I’m taking five physically active classes a week. I love the dancing, the music and the camaraderie among my fellow retired educators.”
Retiree Sharon Henderson said, “The Zoom classes have given us the opportunity to be social beings again and to feel a sense of worth.”
But some things remain the same. Eleanor Comins’ sketching, drawing and watercolor class still had a waitlist of 30 retirees and, although the 85-year-old artist had trouble logging on some mornings, a helping hand from the Retired Teachers Chapter was always there to make sure she was ready to start class on time.
Bridge and stained-glass classes had to be dropped for obvious reasons, but a silk scarf painting class was added, and the September session promises a new Alfred Hitchcock movie class.
As the spring session ends, retiree Reven Wilson is reveling in what she calls the “wow factor” she has added to her cake decorating. “The weekly class provided me the opportunity to learn various baking, icing and decorating skills and techniques to adorn and elevate my everyday cakes,” she said.
Although the Brooklyn section’s annual June Show and Schmooze celebration was not the same this year without guests and a luncheon, the borough’s retirees showed off their creations, read some of their essays and stories, and performed at a televised celebration on June 1 in collaboration with retirees from other Beagle Centers in the metropolitan area and Florida.
Dorell and her fellow coordinators, Eurika Oliver and Cheryl Richardson, and all the Brooklyn section retirees are eager to get back to enjoying their annual shopping trip to the Amish country and to theater and dining dates. But, for now, they are grateful for the companionship they find and the pleasure they get in their daily classes.