Comforting Others: What to Say and Do

(60-minute program including Q&A session)

When called to comfort others, we may feel empathy and care deeply, but sometimes what to say or do can elude us.

We will explore how to put compassion into action with practical examples of what to say and do to provide comfort at work and at home.

We will review recent research on empathy, grief, and social support, and examine best practices for how to be helpful.

Finally, we will share our stories of comforting others, and learn from each other’s experiences.


Words Galore

(A series of 60-minute classes of word games and word play, designed for seniors—available for senior centers and senior living communities)

Join Val for a fun and lively hour of word play and brain twisters—a logophile’s paradise.

We learn new words as well as explore the history of old words and delve into the origins of words.

We enjoy limericks, riddles, famous quotes, puns, and fascinating trivia about trendy words.

We play guessing games with the dictionary and words-within-word games.

Inspired by Shakespeare, Ogden Nash, or Edward Lear, we challenge our wits and might end up with a few laughs.


Poets Live Forever

(A series of 60-minute classes about poets and their lives, designed for seniors—available for senior centers and senior living communities.)

Presenting readings and life histories of poets from all ages, Val sparks conversation and reflection on what inspired their brilliant creations.

Alongside their poems, we will explore in depth the challenges, passions, and callings of these great poets:

Maya Angelou, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Oliver, Walt Whitman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Emily Dickinson, Rumi, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Each one-hour online class is devoted to one particular poet as we learn about the life and works of that individual.


Reaching Out and Building Community

(A 60-minute program, offered in person or online. 20-minute discussion follows.)

In uncertain times, many are asking, “How can I find my tribe?” 

Even before the pandemic, we may have already been isolated in situations such as illness, caregiving, living alone, divorce, relocation, or the death of a loved one. But there are ways to build new friendships, fellowships, and a sense of belonging. We can create our tribe through volunteering, taking action for a cause we believe in, or joining in classes on topics that inspire us.

Follow your bliss, follow your cause, or follow your curiosity–all can take you out of your “shell” and towards fulfilling new connections. Join us to learn how to develop your community, expand your networks, and pave the way for your future social life.



 Senior centers (Needham Council on Aging, MA, Acton Senior Center)

 Libraries (Newton Free Library, Camden Public Library)

 Lifelong learning centers (Osher Lifelong Learning at UMass Boston, Regis College, University of Rhode Island)

 Community education (Arlington Community Education, Brookline Adult and Community Education)

 Medical centers such as Blum Resource Center at Dana Farber, hospices and patient education programs   

 Continuing education centers at universities (University of Southern Maine)

 Nonprofit agencies (Thrive Support and Advocacy, MA)

 Support groups for people with chronic illnesses, caregiver support groups, grief support groups