Every Thursday, volunteer Michael Wiggins and I meet with assigned learners participating in digital literacy engagement at Saint Francis Living Room. This senior center is run in conjunction with Curry Senior Center, both in the heart of the Tenderloin district. Johnathan Powell, the interim executive director, says that “many of the clients are unable to afford computers to use as part of their everyday lives, so having donors and volunteers contribute to the clients’ access to technology is a wonderful opportunity.”
The digital literacy program gives learners the opportunity to attend classes until they reach digital independence, at which time they receive a free iPad. Learners are then able and encouraged to return at any time for a refresher lesson or to address any issues they encounter on their new device.
Former musician Darryl Jones, pictured here, is one client who has been able to explore her passion and dreams by having access to an iPad. Darryl’s iPad was generously donated by high school student Maya Clare, founder of Noviaris, a nonprofit that aims to bridge the gap between the wealthiest institutions and underserved communities. (Yes, you read that right: high school student!)
When Darryl received her iPad she sent her first email to Maya:
This is the first email I have written. I now have a better chance of rebuilding a life. Because of my brain injuries, I was not capable of connecting to many activities in the world, but with the use of the iPad, I can access music through YouTube that sustains me. I am a trained musician.
Along with musical interests, Darryl connects with environmental, social, and political causes online.
CTN’s mission is being carried out as Darryl’s connectivity is relevant to living a better life — and the partnership between these technology networks serves to exhibit how digital justice is celebrated.