I started with CTN the week of September 8, 2015, and we were scheduled to attend the volunteer training that Friday. Anthony Pound, a United Kingdom transplant, was among those in the class. His ready smile and ease with both the sensitivity and teaching content of the training immediately evidenced the compassionate tutor he would prove to be.
He chose the Downtown Center computer lab as his training site, a brisk walk from his new SF home South of Market. His first day was my first day in a CTN computer lab, so we shared the energy of meeting people, developing rapport, and figuring out possibilities.
Weeks later, I remember visiting the lab and finding Tony in a nonbeginner discussion with a learner about something relating to technology. He was a combination of sage, oracle, and enthusiast. He invited people to move forward and beyond existing skills and believe there was always more they could explore and learn.
In England, Tony was a teacher and soccer coach, and both personae surfaced in his ready sports discussions and patient teaching.
In 2016, he was offered a teaching position at a private school. He happily told us it was only four days a week, so he could still volunteer. This year, the school wants it all, and he must stop regular tutoring.
In talking about his two years at the Downtown computer lab, he calls out the impact of helping individuals sign up for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program so that they have internet access at home and a personal computer. He noted that updated computer skills and home access to the internet provide people with agency. They don’t recognize that they are working under a constraint until it is removed. He also noted another outcome of his encouragement and coaching: One motivated learner has now become a tutor to others.
The strongest impact Tony felt from CTN volunteering was the connection to the city he made through the work. “You wouldn’t meet these people…” if you didn’t volunteer, go to the Tenderloi, and develop friendships. It changes you as much as it changes them. Tony hopes to substitute when there are school holidays and breaks. He wants to keep the perspective and experience of CTN volunteer engagement in his life.