A native of India, Home Connect participant Luis Mascarenhas has lived in San Francisco for the past 15 years. He currently works for a vaccination clinic and spends his extra free time volunteering. Although Luis had regularly visited computer labs before the pandemic, he soon found himself stuck at home without connectivity. When someone at the Downtown Senior Center told him about our Home Connect program, Luis was eager to join.
Luis now uses his tablet with ease after completing the home connect curriculum. He was initially hesitant about the new technology but felt encouraged by the patience and resourcefulness of his digital coach, Lauren. “It was like a student-teacher relationship,” says Luis. “She was there every move guiding me through the process and gave me the confidence to move forward. She gave me pointers on how to stay safe on the internet, showed me how to use the Google Calendar, and even filed technical complaints on my behalf.”
The internet has prompted a shift in Luis’s daily life. He uses his device to listen to music, audiobooks, and religious services. He was able to update his resume and apply for jobs. He has assisted others in getting registered online for vaccine appointments. He even got reconnected with family members in London whom he hadn’t seen in years. “With the help of Lauren and the tablet, it has been a miracle,” says Luis. “I used to have an old flip phone. I had never seen someone on a video call. It is amazing to see someone there on the other side.”
Unfortunately, Luis recently had his tablet stolen from his bag at the park. He was unharmed in this experience but deeply saddened by the loss. Luis had grown to depend on the tablet for convenience and communication. He had built up skills and confidence in using the internet and suddenly lost the tool to access it. “I had a great start and was in good spirits when I first received the tablet,” he reflects. “When it was stolen from me, I felt isolated and unconnected. I felt left out and had low self-esteem. I felt like a piece of me was taken away.”
Luckily, we had an extra refurbished Amazon Fire tablet to help get Luis reconnected. He is currently learning to navigate the new device and grateful that he can continue his life with the internet: “CTN has put me on a new adventure path of life. The program offers great support. It’s one-on-one and we go slow. They constantly give you feedback on your progress. They’ve also helped me to connect with the other seniors and programs throughout the city. It has made me a happier and more productive person.”