When Ken Jackson retired from his more than 30-year career with Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, his life was at a point of inflection. He had just moved across the country from Maryland to California, had his second son finish college, and begun reevaluating what to do next. “I felt that even though I was leaving the corporate world,” reflects Ken, “I still wanted to find a way to be involved in the community.” He started looking for volunteer opportunities to feel more connected to the people and issues of his new city. Soon enough, Ken found CTN and started volunteering as a digital trainer in 2015.
For two days a week, Ken Jackson worked at the Castro Senior Center helping community members with digital skills and tech issues. Some days, he connected low-income and marginalized seniors to helpful resources, like low-cost internet options, affordable housing services, unemployment applications, etc. Other times, he worked with recurring learners who returned each week to build their digital skills and learn new tools.
“It was very satisfying to see the progression over time — to help the learners be able to do things independently and use their devices in a way that suits their needs,” says Ken. One of his favorite experiences was working with a senior woman who hadn’t been able to communicate with her family back in the Philippines. Through their sessions each week, Ken helped her set up a Facebook account and taught her how to use email. “She was just so happy to be able to make that connection with her people, to get updates and share that she is using technology,” Ken reflects.
From his experience volunteering with CTN, Ken recognized the complexity of the digital divide. Of course, there’s the issue of digital literacy, but there is also a need for access to affordable broadband, accessible devices, and quality training. As Ken transitioned out of donating his time as a volunteer, he continued to donate his resources by supporting CTN financially. His donation helps bring digital literacy and affordable internet access to the communities that need it most. “Information is knowledge, and without it, you’re not going to get ahead,” says Ken. “Everybody needs a chance and opportunity to be able to have access to the internet and to be able to utilize it so they can better themselves.”
We are grateful to each of our unique donors and funders for your continued support in empowering marginalized communities through technology!