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ALVA touches lives in Hastings

Hastings resident Deb Saunders had raised her seven children and was nearing retirements. Being an active participant in the arts, Saunders was considering her next options.

As a child, Saunders was passionate about the piano. Although she never performed publicly, her love of the piano continued into adulthood. Her active participation on the Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council only heightened her desire to bring music back into her life.

When she participated in the 2009-2010 ALVA (Advocacy for Leadership and Vital Aging) program at Inver Hills Community College, Saunders found a way to put her passion to work. She launched a community project, "The Music Hour," a program for adults who play instruments and like to make performance a part of their lives. It is a community-supported initiative where adults can discover, or rediscover their talents and continue to grow musically.

ALVA helps experienced leaders discover how to use their skills in fresh ways and acquire new skills necessary for being effective change makers. Over an eight-month period, participants discover or rediscover their lifework, learn about opportunities and barriers to leadership in later life, plan and implement a civic leadership project; and build an ongoing network for sharing ideas, knowledge and resources. Participants learn together, act together and develop lasting network of fellow leaders. Hastings residents Lynn Moratzka and Karen Moore have also participated in the program.

Another Hastings resident very involved in the Inver Hills Community program is Dick Graham. The former director of DARTS is the facilitator of the program.

"Many people tell themselves I will do this or that," he said. "Life's too short to get caught in up in just thinking about what you should do. We help you get started doing the things that are important to you."

The eight-session class begins Oct. 8 and meets one day a month. However, interested people will be able to learn more about the program at two upcoming informational sessions. The Vital Aging Network and Inver Hills Community College will host sessions from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9 in the Fine Art Center at Inver Hills.

For more information, call director Tom Hyder at 651-917-4635 or visit