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Some Past AWN Programs

Fun Mystery Challenges

June 12, 2024

AWN member Gil Herman in partnership with the Forest Park Public Library led a program in which several members of AWN and several library patrons of their Older Adult's Social Circle worked together to solve a robbery, a murder mystery and a 20-questions puzzle.

Online Dating for Older Adults

June 11, 2024

AWN member Joy Aaronson paid things forward by sharing her experiences of online dating. Some of the areas that she covered included meeting people, when might not be a good time to start this, what are you looking for, group work looking at best/ ok/ and worst things that could happen in this process, romance scams, safety, best sites, and making a profile.  

Preventing Scams and Financial Exploitations of Older Adults

May 14, 2024

AWN members and guests engaged with a panel of experts talking about preventing scams and financial exploitation of older adults. We had speakers from AgeOptions, AWN, SEC Division of Enforcement, the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, and the Oak Park Police Department. There was a whole lot of information shared, questions answered and resources offered. Among the recommendations were:

1) Prevention is key.

2) If it sounds too good to be true - or feels a bit off - hang up/don’t respond.

3) Report potential scam to Oak Park Police at 911, Office of Illinois Attorney General, and/or SEC Division of Enforcement

Many of the resources mentioned are listed under RESOURCES here.

Expanding End-of-Life Options

April 4, 2024

Catherine Marienau and Terri Powell, members of the Oak Park End-of-Life Options Coalition, presented information on various options for people who are nearing the end of life, taking into account the individual’s values, priorities, and circumstances.  They emphasized the importance of making plans now for how you wish to be cared for at the end of your life.  They underscored the need to document and share this information with your loved ones and with doctors and care facilities to ensure that your wishes are honored. They provided an update on the status of Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) across the U.S. and the recently introduced bill to the Illinois Legislature, SB3499. Highly recommended: My End-of-Life Decisions: An Advance Planning Guide and Toolkit. (,

Hearing Challenges and Resources for Older Adults

March 13, 2024

AWN members and guests learned from Dr. Eva Lopez about how hearing works, what causes hearing loss and how it’s measured, and a cornucopia of technical devices to assist with hearing challenges. We learned about how hearing loss can lead people to feelings of isolation, loss of productivity, and risks to health beyond hearing. We also gained clarity about how to work with a professional audiologist. Participants shared many of their own challenges and successes dealing with hearing loss, some for many years and many more recently. We learned that of adults over age 75, about 50% have mild to profound hearing loss. 

Literary Salon

February, 2024

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, AWN members and guests were treated to the readings of original works by ten AWN members. The host team of Margaret Burk, Barbara Rose and Sun-Hee Yoon selected the offerings from member submissions then coordinated the program at American House Bistro enhanced with wonderful culinary delights. The readers in order of appearance – Phyllis Rubin, Jan Johnston, Peter Notier, Maureen Connolly, Elisabeth Muhlenberg, Gil Herman, Joyce Porter, Terri Powell, Charlie Hoch, and Victor Yipp – shared personal memoirs, poetry, and fiction.

Reimagining Adventure as We Age

January, 2024

This program was led by AWN member Catherine Marienau and her podcast colleague, Gail Zelitzky. Part of the presentation was hearing short audio clips of their podcast participants who shared their personal stories about what adventure means to them. Participants engaged in lively small-group conversations as well as full-group interaction about creating/having adventures and the adventure of aging itself.

More Fun Collaborative Challenges

October, 2023

This was a fifth session with all new challenges led by Gil Herman. Among other things, members solved a robbery mystery, solved riddles and puzzles, and created wise advice using exactly 6 words.

Exploring Artificial Intelligence for Older Adults

September, 2023

Vijay Gurbani, the Chief Data Scientist at Vail Systems and a Research Associate Professor at Illinois Tech, led a lively interactive presentation on the history of artificial intelligence and the development of natural language learning systems. After that participants spent time in small groups working hands-on with ChatGPT to get a sense of how it worked and how to use it.

Sexuality and Intimacy Among Older Adults

June, 2023

AWN member Catherine Marienau and her colleague Carolyn Torkelson led an interactive program with engaged participants in a rare opportunity, in mixed company, to discuss sexual and emotional intimacy as we age. The presenters, an academic and a physician, created an open and relaxed setting for frank conversation about sexual health, including attitudes and mores, emotional and physical changes, and creative ways to enhance one’s sexual pleasure. Take home message: adults at any age are sexual beings and deserving of sexual-sensual pleasures, whatever that may mean to each of us. ​

Sustainability – What We Can Do to Help

May, 2023

AWN members Hinda Blum and Chris Hauri facilitated a workshop on Sustainability - What We Can Do To Help. Participants discussed how they want to be remembered by the next generations regarding what they did to protect and sustain our earth. We discussed some causes and consequences of climate change and the power of older adults to affect policy. Participants brainstormed specific actions they could do in their homes, in their communities and families. Participants left with a list of green organizations they could join as well as resources they could use in our goal to transition to green energy. As a follow up, the Green Team Interest group was created.​

People Helping People

April, 2023

We invited four local non-profits to tell us about the work they do and possibly encourage older adults to volunteer. Each organization – Housing Forward, Sarah’s Inn, Exodus World Service and Beyond Hunger – gave an overview of their history and current services. Additionally an AWN member who volunteers with each organization told their story of involvement. This was followed by an opportunity for participants to go around to each organization’s station to further engage and possibly sign up for further information or volunteer potential.

Youth Business Ideas for Older Adults

March, 2023

Five teams of high school students from the OPRFHS Incubator Business class presented their ideas to our members and guests. Each group received kudos and feedback from participants and following the presentations, had an opportunity to move around to stations where they could talk further. Business ideas included creating celebrations of life using digital media, having a reading “glasses” in the form of a card carried in a pocket on a smart phone, providing a groups of high school students to help with chores, repurposing old tech to pass it along to non profits, and creating a space where young people could take out their stress by smashing things.

Fun Collaborative Challenges

February 2023

During February and early March, 2023, AWN member Gil Herman facilitated four sessions of Fun CollaborativeChallenges. Each session engaged between 15 – 20 older adults in a variety of team building activities including such challenges as solving a murder mystery, surviving a (simulated) plane crash, crossing a magic carpet, and word games.  All challenges encouraged collaboration and led to much hilarity and getting to know each other even better.

Arbor West Neighbors

Arbor West Neighbors (AWN) is a grassroots organization of neighbors in Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and Austin connected to support and enrich aging through community building and advocacy. Our mission is to empower adults to thrive as we age in community. 


Our vision is to build a multi-ethnic, multicultural community where all older adults are valued, age with dignity, and enjoy opportunities for growth and engagement. 

We are an all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization with over 120 members. 

About Us

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