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Retired Adults Find New Horizons, Friendships in Birmingham

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By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

When Sandra Vinik, an attorney, and her husband Dr. Hymie Ronald Vinik, an anesthesiologist, retired in the 2000s, they didn’t know what the change would bring to their lives.

“You worry about how you are going to adjust from your high pressure, day-to-day kind of existence to being retired,” said Sandra Vinik.

After hearing from some friends that there was a group for Birmingham-area retired adults to get together and learn, she and her husband tried it. Thirteen years later, Vinik said she continues to learn new things and make new friends through the program.

“When you join New Horizons, you find people who are interested in all kinds of things. I now see that there’s a lot of things that I didn’t know about as a profession. You meet a lot of people and get exposed to a lot of new ideas, so instead of stagnating, you really expand a whole lot,” Vinik said.

New Horizons, first started in 1989 by a retired University of Alabama at Birmingham professor, brings together retired adults in the Birmingham area for a variety of educational programming, including talks from experts, musical performance and field trips. This year’s fall semester began Sept. 6.

Events are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in three semesters which take place throughout the year. The fall semester runs through Oct. 27. Each of the group’s regular meetings happen at Valley Christian Church at 2600 Cherokee Place in Mountain Brook.

Among the many upcoming events this semester are a visit to Jones Valley Teaching Farm on Sept. 20; a talk from Connie Hill, PhD, president and CEO of Girls Inc. about the socialization of girls in modern times on Sept. 28 and a talk from Majella Chube Hamilton, executive director of the Ballard House, on Oct. 6.

Outside of the semesters, though, Vinik said she has made real friends through the program.

“We get invited to the houses of other people all the time, or they come to our house. You want to find somebody to play bridge—you’ll find them at New Horizons. You want to go to the symphony … We’ll know a bunch of people there because our members are there,” Vinik said.

What’s different about New Horizons is the real friendship that develops between attendees, Vinik said. Often people leave church and other groups, feeling like they didn’t really connect with others.

“[People say the same thing about their book group. They might say, ‘Let’s go and have coffee after,’ but New Horizons, maybe because we have the same interests, you make a bunch of friends,” Vinik said.

Besides, “nobody wants to sit in the house by themselves,” Vinik said.

For information about New Horizons, go to newhorizonsuab.org, or call (205) 266-8813.