Photo Caption: CTN employee Sabrina Tam is preparing to deliver a new tablet to one of the Home Connect learners.
Employees and volunteers of Community Tech Network recently celebrated two important milestones in the rollout of its new Home Connect program. The first tablets were delivered to selected older adult learners, and the first remote training session was conducted with a senior who did not have to leave the safety of their home. The newest addition to CTN’s digital training opportunities, Home Connect is designed to provide remote training to homebound older adult digital learners.
Due to the stay-safe-at-home restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, CTN has not been able to engage our low-income and older adult learners in the traditional community settings. Following a month and a half of COVID-19 lockdowns of public training sites, CTN’s Sabrina Tam delivered the first devices to three older adults living in Alemany Apartments in San Francisco. They were selected for the inaugural Home Connect program since their apartment is one of 23 low-income housing developments connected to fiber. As of this writing, CTN trainers Josie Boyle and Carlos Sivira Falcon have conducted their first remote training sessions.
Although the development of Home Connect was spurred by the COVID-19 crisis, the concept has been on the radar of CTN executive director and co-founder Kami Griffiths for many years. However, there was a lack of both human and financial resources to devote to the development of a remote service delivery model while continuing to grow and sustain the traditional in-person programs.
Once CTN’s access to libraries and community centers was no longer an option, the development of the Home Connect concept took on a new sense of urgency. A flurry of deliberations, discussions, and actions followed, and now, six weeks later, we have reached the celebratory milestones. As with any new product, we do anticipate some necessary adjustments and tactical changes to be made as the trainings unfold and the program expands.
Fast-forward to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions: Once adjustments are made, Home Connect will continue to benefit a new demographic of older adult learners — those unable to attend our traditional community-based programming due to personal mobility challenges, underlying health issues, or lack of transportation to the training sites. It also allows CTN to draw from an expanded pool of potential volunteers — those with challenges like the potential learners who can now volunteer from the convenience and safety of their homes as well.