Elen Nettlebeck has been a CTN volunteer since 2011, and she has made a difference in just about every way imaginable! She has tutored seniors one-on-one, taught basic computer classes, been a training coordinator, assisted in developing our e-health curriculum, and helped with various office-related tasks. Elen has volunteered at five different centers, where she has taught numerous people invaluable tech skills.
She recognizes that each student has a different way of learning and finds ways to adapt her teachings to each unique user. “Sometimes you have to repeat yourself over and over, and you don’t think the students are ever going to get it, but then suddenly they do,” she says, noting that those moments were the greatest part of volunteering. “It’s kind of fun to think of different ways to explain things. Some people are more visual, some need more words, and some need to just get their hands on it.”
Of all the things she taught, she says that email was her favorite because through teaching students how to use email, she was able to help them stay in touch with their families. “So many of my students were in danger of losing touch with their families, because they all communicate via email or social networks,” she says. “They really wanted to get back in touch and to be able to communicate with their families their way, rather than trying to catch them by phone.”
Next month, Elen will be moving to Phoenix, Arizona, and she will surely be missed by both clients and CTN staff. While we are sad to see her go, we are so grateful for all that she has done over the last couple of years for our organization and for seniors in San Francisco! “The whole thing was a lot of fun,” she says. “People would walk up to me and thank me, and of course you try to accept the thanks graciously, but the fact is, it’s just so much fun!”