Santa Rosa Retired Senior Volunteer Program teaches technology classes

Milton-based Santa Rosa Community Services plans to offer more free classes to help seniors learn to use or better use technology such as email, video chats and Facebook.

Santa Rosa Community Services oversees the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, which operates under the AmeriCorps Seniors umbrella and offers a number of resources, legal services, and care coordination.

Since 2019, the group has been operating a computer lab class where senior citizens can come and get help with any respective technological problem they are facing. At the height of the pandemic, the group switched to an individual model, but it is preparing to expand again.

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In 2023, the organization will seek to organize thematic courses on narrow topics for seniors. Santa Rosa Community Services Program Director Faye said there is a growing aging population in Santa Rosa County and the goal of the classes is to give seniors independence in the technological world, as it becomes more and more vital in society.

“From applying for Social Security to just making an appointment with your doctor, they want you to go online,” Henry said. “And because older people don’t learn how to do it, they’re going to lean on someone else to help them. And that’s not what they want. They want to do things themselves .

Suzanna Jones, second from right, asks a question about cell phones during a Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) computer lab at the Milton Community Center on Wednesday, October 5, 2022.

Kiwi Thomas, RSVP’s Volunteer Coordinator, added, “The young people in their lives will buy (seniors) the iPhone, put them on their plan and (not help them learn its functions). They just do it to (seniors), give them the phone back and they still don’t know what to do (themselves).

Thomas said running these classes was a matter of patience, and she said she would provide written instructions and incorporate repetition to help seniors learn the necessary skills.

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Seniors’ use of certain technologies has skyrocketed, further underscoring the importance of empowering seniors with the tools to become technologically literate, according to a Pew Research report released earlier this year.

Since 2010, the percentage of people aged 65 and over using social media has more than quadrupled, the number of people owning a tablet has increased more than sevenfold, and smartphone ownership among seniors has increased from 13% to 61% over the past year. of the last decade.

Those of RSVP see these trends in real time.

“We’re getting into websites more, and we’re getting people asking questions on Twitter and things like that, which seniors really haven’t played with (before),” Henry said.

She said the work was beneficial for seniors and rewarding for staff.

“I love working with seniors. They have so much to offer, and our society doesn’t seem to value their knowledge. I learned more from them than they will ever learn from me.

For those interested in RSVP’s computer lab classes, they are offered in a one-on-one format from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Milton Community Center, 5629 Byrom Street. A class style lesson is currently offered at the Holley-Navarre Seniors Association. , 8476 Gordon Goodin Lane, Thursdays 9-11 a.m.

Ryan H. Bowman