Marion Werner, 93, normally a very active senior in Middlebury, was feeling the effects of social isolation when she joined the pilot ESI College online class in May: a book group with Elise Blair that had been canceled in March when Elderly Services had to close our center. “I volunteered three days a week before the virus; now I hardly see anyone. It’s wonderful to see you all!” she exclaimed as she joined the group of eight for the first time.

The group met three times to discuss The Book of Joy, a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The book and discussion were timely. “This has been a wonderful time for reflection … and a way to escape the isolation of this shut-down time,” said student Sarah Ashe. “I’m deeply appreciative of Elderly Services work to make this happen.”

If you’re interested in ESI College online classes, we are offering them over Zoom. There will be more small groups as well as larger lectures. Try one out out and keep your mind active! 

We will send out the list of classes prior to the start of each month, and we’ll post the class schedule on the ESI website. E-mail us at for the list of classes or to register.