Walking into the Downtown Senior Center, visitors are immediately embraced by a bright smile. Its source is Camille lester, unofficially known as “Big Deal Camille.” A native of San Francisco, Camille recalls growing up in the projects. “When I was growing up, we didn’t have the advantage of what kids have now — we didn’t have computers and all that. Our parents gave us whatever they could get.”
A few months ago, Camille stepped into the Downtown Center out of curiosity. Among other services, she was intrigued to hear about the computer lab. Though she had a basic knowledge of computers, Camille sought out the lab when she heard of a free subsidized phone program. In order to sign up for this phone, she needed to create an email address. With the help of CTN volunteers, she not only created an email address, she eventually received her phone and learned how to use it in various ways. From learning to text and how to save photos, to learning how to listen to her beloved Gospel music, Camille was able to get the help she needed.
Over time, a challenge arose: Camille couldn’t hear her phone’s ringer. She used the lab’s computers to search and was able to find a device through her cellphone provider that would help her. Yet again, after purchasing this device, Camille was able to utilize CTN volunteers to learn how to set up her new device. The many processes that Camille underwent exemplify the impact that technology has played in her life.
She has quickly moved on to owning a smartphone and even recently purchased a refurbished laptop. She says that individuals, particularly people of color, don’t have the same advantages and access to resources. She is grateful for the lab and CTN volunteers that have contributed to the enrichment of seniors, herself among them.