Seniors on the ‘retreat’

By Luverta Reames

Sarah Whitten is special. When she dances she looks a lot like the awkward Albert Brennaman in the 2005 movie “Hitch.” The grossest thing she has done in public is chew someone else’s day old gum. And she revealed all of this to 19 other women at the Senior Women’s Retreat March 23 to 25 at Indian Lake, Mich.

Three resident directors – Bethany Knight of Grand, Ashley Robbins of the Oaks and Callie Hamilton of University Place – started planning the retreat in November. In December they met with some senior women over dinner to get feedback and ideas for the event.

The feedback they received help the RDs decided on six presenters for the retreat, each of whom led a session and answered questions about topics ranging from finances to relationships.

Mary Schweigert, campus nurse, led the first session at the retreat. She discussed the six reasons God created sex and how to avoid temptation in dating relationships.

Robbins spoke about finances, the importance of knowing and improving credit scores and budgeting. She directed the women to, a website that helps people create their own budget.

Adjunct psychology professor Jeanette Martinson spoke about knowing the difference between wants and needs. She advised seniors to establish a reasonable standard of living and to tithe.

“Offerings always come back in the form of blessings, whether [they are] financial or not,” she said.

Martinson also stressed the importance of financial peace.

“Peace happens when our external choices match our internal values,” she said.

Ellen Steward, College Church pastor to families with children, spoke about passion and the role of the church.

“The church comes alongside people and helps them live out their passions,” Steward said. “Live out what God has called you to do and choose a church that will … encourage, support and believe in the passion God has given you.”

April Van Heemst, who is married to history and political science professor David Van Heemst, spoke about what she’s learned as a wife. She believes compromise is important to communication.

“Marriage is a lot of giving and [it takes a lot] to make it work,” Van Heemst said.

The topic discussed by Karen Anderson, former RD of University Place, was being single outside of the Olivet “bubble.” According to Anderson, living as a single woman requires three things: maturity, God’s leading and gumption.

Besides spending time listening to the speakers, seniors also had time for fun at the retreat.

On Saturday there was a “polar plunge,” when two RDs and 14 seniors jumped into the lake. Knight and Hamilton hope next year’s seniors will continue the tradition.

Overall, many seniors who attended believe the retreat was a success.

“I liked it,” Whitten said. “It’s a lot of information, but I know in a few months when I look over my notes [from the presentations], I’ll be grateful.”

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