Portland Community College program has been popular for 20 years

Want to participate in lively discussions about current events?

How about studying gems and jewelry, human trafficking, vocalists of the Big Band era, DNA and genealogy, or Middle East history?

Want to try your hand at play-reading, writing poetry or writing your memoir?

All these subjects and many more are offered through Portland Community College's Senior Studies Institute, which costs only $30 for the entire year and kicks off its fall program in September.

Three local women - Marilyn Katz of Summerfield, Aileen Clark of King City and Phyllis Lindsley of the Highlands - are among its most active participants and biggest supporters.

'I just feel so lucky that someone introduced me to this,' Katz said. 'And people can attend twice before they have to pay."

The program is one of the best-kept secrets around, and organizers want more people would learn about it and take advantage of the myriad of classes and events offered year-round.

"The backgrounds and knowledge of our members cover a broad spectrum from academia to zoology and give us the tools and expertise to generate and present most of the subjects on the calendar," said Tony Veldhuizen, SSI membership chairman.

"Classes are open to all members, and there are no prerequisites. This all-volunteer organization provides our members with new outlooks, social interaction (and) friendships, and truly demonstrates that 'we learn from each other and never stop learning.'

"The participants in SSI represent a population of vastly diverse interests and experiences. The common thread is the intellectual curiosity we strive to satisfy through exchange of ideas, discussion with others and exploring new avenues of thought. We learn in an atmosphere of cooperation and participation - and it is fun."

SSI provides programs at six different locations around the metro area:

Lake Oswego - 4101 S.W. Kruse Way; West - 12500 S.W. Allen Blvd., Beaverton; Neighborhood House in Multnomah Village - 7688 S.W. Capital Highway, Portland; SMILE in Sellwood - 8210 S.E. 13th Ave., Portland; CLIMB Central - 1626 S.E. Water Ave., Portland; and East - 2305 S.E. 82nd Ave., Portland.

Fall term kicks off in September, and the annual membership fee is only $30, which covers the period of Sept. 1, 2011, to Aug. 31, 2012.

For more information, visit or call Tony or Kathy Veldhuizen at 503-228-2488.

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