INDIAN LAND — Sun City resident Bob Engel knows that many of his neighbors arrived with little connection to Lancaster County and other surrounding areas.
Theres just no reason, he said, that it has to stay that way.
Were not here to take, said Engel, one of about 1,200 members of the Sun City Lifelong Learning Club. Were here to contribute.
Lifelong Learning began in 2006. Each Monday night, up to 200 members get together for presentations on art, literature, business, history, health care anything nonpolitical that gets residents interacting with interesting topics.
For lecturers, the group sought out or partnered with several universities including Winthrop, USC-Lancaster, UNC-Charlotte and Queens, along with York Technical College. One partnership in particular has blossomed.
Winthrop has been extremely helpful, Engel said. The one with Winthrop really is evolving into something.
This year, Winthrop is providing 24 of around 50 lectures. Late last week, an opera company of former Winthrop students performed at Sun City. The group and school are working on adult-education classes and listings of events at the school that may interest residents.
Then, there are the scholarships. Last year the learning club provided 12 scholarships to former Indian Land High School students now enrolled at Winthrop. All 12 were renewed this year.
One recipient is Ashley Tillman, a freshman majoring in early childhood education. Her scholarship helps greatly against the cost of textbooks and other college-related expenses.
It is so wonderful to have such active members of the community who generally care about my, and my fellow classmates, education, Tillman said.
Jesse Fernandez also benefits from the scholarship.
Without the textbooks that have been provided for me through the Sun City Carolina Lakes Lifelong Learning Scholarship, it would be impossible for me to be successful in my studies at Winthrop, Fernandez said. I cannot thank them enough for this scholarship.
The Indian Land club charges $10 a year for membership, and at the end of expenses, between $5,000 and $6,000 remains for the scholarship program. Its important for the club to help students and to build the bond with Winthrop for its own members, students themselves.
Winthrop has an unbelievable faculty that is a big, big asset to our program, said Thomas Huber, president and five-year member of the club.
Engel said the overall scholarship funding may not be overwhelming, but it helps in key areas.
Its one thing when its tuition and fees, he said. Its another thing to deal with these fundamental learning materials.
The group also donates to the nearby public library. Group members hope to remain active in educating themselves, and to help others earlier on in their learning. And in doing so, Engel said, members show that they care about the community theyve all chosen to call home.