"The stereotype for an older person has changed dramatically, and OASIS is helping to change it," says Jack Houseworth, a retired architect who serves as vice chair of the Syracuse OASIS Advisory Council. "Program leaders find that OASIS members enjoy learning, participating and growing together," he adds. "You feel like you are accomplishing something here."
Accomplishing something was important to Houseworth. Although he hadn't given his retirement years much thought beforehand, he quickly discovered in himself a need to keep moving forward. His first careful look through an OASIS catalog helped to remind him of all the things he wanted to do.
"I hadn't had any computer training, and with OASIS, I could get that," he says. "I was in good shape and I wanted to stay in good shape. I'd always been interested in sketching and creative writing, and I could do that here. It was fun and there was no stress."
Houseworth has grown to appreciate OASIS as a place to think and exchange ideas with others again.
"If you can talk and express your views and people accept them, it makes you feel good," he says. "It energizes people."
Houseworth initiated several discussion series at OASIS and he facilitates Round Table, an informal discussion series on books, current affairs and a host of other topics.
Always interested in investing, he even started a series called Money Talks, which explores financial matters and where to go for dependable advice. A new series, "Round Table with a Twist," has also begun with his encouragement. He's forever on the lookout for new ideas and new group leaders, which serves him well as vice chairman of the advisory council and head of the development committee. Houseworth champions OASIS' ongoing quest for helping older adults recognize their potential and value.
"I've learned that older people are a lot more tolerant than people might think. Most of us have been around long enough to be able to think for ourselves. Even the quiet participants, if given the chance, will say things that are very perceptive. This has opened up whole new worlds for me."