Recently for AARP DC there was a volunteer reversal. Youth volunteers from Mentor Up taught older adults the basics on how to use and navigate the Internet using desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Older District residents also learned how to use Microsoft Office applications, establish an email account, use search engines, take pictures using a smartphone and send email with attachments. A few even dabbled with social media and how to find their favorite radio or TV station online.
The one-on-one instruction session for the older learners was admittedly more helpful than reading a how-to guide to gain knowledge of modern technology and use it in their everyday lives.
“I use to be the teacher, now I’m the student,” said retired educator Sylvia Ross, a member of the National Retired Educators Association (NREA). “I don’t like not knowing what’s going on, so I wanted to take this training.”
The benefits of the experience were not just felt by those who came to learn new things or brush up on skills. The ”digital coaches,” who were between the ages of 16-22-years-old, realized that some of the adults already had some innate knowledge on the workings of computers. A Mentor Up volunteer said that it was “fun to watch them (the AARP DC and NREA volunteers) grow individually.”
“I thought he did an awesome job,” said Will McAvoy, the Mentor Up volunteer who coached Talmage George, the 80-year-old father of AARP employee Rosalyn George and a U.S. Air Force retiree. Mr. George learned how to set up an email account. When his computer is installed, his homework assignment is to send an email every day to his daughter. Ms. George, a volunteer with AARP DC, uses her Community Builder Hours to coordinate Mentor Up projects for the AARP DC State Office.
This most recent training is the second time Mentor Up volunteers have provided tech training to AARP DC volunteers. It also was the third Mentor Up/AARP DC collaboration this year. We look forward to more!
(This post was written by Rocci Fisch, an AARP DC volunteer.)