Before the stay-at-home mandate was issued in March, Catherine McGrath was a regular user of the SF Connected computer lab at a nearby branch of the San Francisco Public Library system. When the library closed, she found herself stuck at home with no internet access or computer. When she tried to buy a device on her own, stores were either closed or were out of stock.
Because she had met a CTN representative at the library’s computer lab, she decided to call CTN to see if we could assist with either a device or with acquiring home internet access. Her call resolved both problems.
After she was accepted into CTN’s Home Connect program, staff member Al Ho guided her through the application process for acquiring Comcast’s Internet Essentials home internet service. Staff trainer Josie Boyle provided a new tablet and scheduled their first five basic training sessions. While some of these sessions refreshed Catherine’s technical skills, she identified the transition from a desktop computer to a tablet as her greatest challenge. In recalling her training experience, Catherine enthused, “Josie is very personable and friendly and demonstrated a lot of patience and understanding with me as I adjusted to my new tablet. I really appreciate CTN, Josie, and Al for being there for me when I needed them.”
Since the conclusion of her initial training, Catherine has increased her proficiency with her new tablet and is considering contacting CTN to participate in the second phase of the Home Connect program, working one-on-one with a volunteer digital coach. She is interested in returning to the workforce and needs help seeking employment opportunities and completing online job applications.
Community Tech Network’s Home Connect program is designed to teach seniors how to use technology for the first time as well as assisting older adults like Catherine, who come to us with basic technical skills but need an update and have lost their access to the internet or a device. While both groups are at risk, knowing what you are missing can be as difficult and distressing as not realizing how technology can positively impact your life.