Breezeline Hosts Digital Training for Older Adults in Connecticut

NEW LONDON, Conn., June 14, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Breezeline, the nation’s eighth-largest cable operator, hosted a digital learning seminar on June 13 to empower older adults in Connecticut with the knowledge and skills to effectively navigate the digital world.

The seminar, held at the New London Senior Services Center in New London, provided an introduction to creating and sending email and other internet basics. The seminar was held in partnership with Cyber-Seniors, a non-profit organization that provides technology training and digital mentoring to seniors via an intergenerational, volunteer model.

“Email enables people to connect to their communities and the world around them,” said Marina Vracevic, New London senior citizens coordinator. “We are grateful to Breezeline and Cyber-Seniors for taking the time to help older adults in New London learn this critical skill.”

“Breezeline is committed to helping people stay connected to the things they love,” said Katherine McCoid, public relations manager for Breezeline. “We are proud to partner with Cyber-Seniors to teach important digital skills and empower older adults in Connecticut.”

To learn more about Breezeline’s commitment to digital literacy, please visit www.cyberseniors.org/breezeline.

Cox Charities Makes $10,000 Grants to Each of Ten San Diego Nonprofits

Ten San Diego County nonprofit organizations were surprised with $10,000 grants from Cox Charities this week for local programs that support K-12 education, digital equity, conservation and sustainability, and military and veterans.

Cox Charities is a philanthropic foundation led and funded by Cox Communications employees and supported by the company.

The 2024 San Diego Cox Charities community grant recipients and their programs are:

  • Alpha Project — Its Permanent Supportive Housing program for veterans provides residents with emergency rental assistance, food, transportation, household supplies, and medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and power chairs.
  • Cyber Seniors — Digital training workshops in English and Spanish for older adults that include basic technology training, as well as practical knowledge on how to use technology to connect to friends, family and the community.  
  • Downtown San Diego Partnership Foundation — The O-Lot Digital Resource Hub in downtown San Diego will close the digital divide for clients temporarily living in a safe sleeping site and invest in their future by providing access to critical resources to help end their homelessness.
  • Experience Nature Unplugged — Through outdoor classrooms and nature-inspired STEAM activities, the nonprofit empowers tweens and teens to use technology intentionally to build community, reduce loneliness and inspire confidence in outdoor settings.
  • Forever Balboa Park — Expansion of volunteer programs to maintain and enhance Balboa Park for all visitors, and recruit and train 100 tree maintenance corps volunteers who will help maintain new biodiversity gardens and exterior gardens around the restored Botanical Building.
  • Healthy Day Partners — The Straight 2 The Plate Mobile Garden Classroom helps food insecure individuals and families grow their own healthy food and become less reliant on food donations by providing gardening workshops in underserved communities.
  • Living Coast Discovery Center — The grant will provide field trips to the center for schools with high poverty levels so that students can explore a nature reserve, interact with wildlife and participate in hand-on STEAM activities.  
  • Mama’s Kitchen — The grant will fund meals for 360 critically ill veterans in San Diego County. Meals are home-delivered and medically tailored to improve the quality of life for critically ill veterans and their families.
  • San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum — The grant will enable the museum to provide 525 scholarships for younger students from under-resourced communities in San Diego County to participate in STEM educational workshops.
  • TERI Inc. – The grant will enable the nonprofit to double its capacity for neurodiverse students to participate in its STEM programs and robotics.

“Cyber Seniors” Launches in Franklin County!

Listen to Podcast

Episode notes

A terrific program that connects digital natives (young people) to older adults to help them navigate technology and learn how to use their devices has launched at Greenfield Community College! Join Judy Raper, Associate Dean of Community Engagement at GCC, Cyber Senior Coordinator, Donna Dusell and tech mentors/GCC Students, Liv Dow and Jessica Lenihan to learn more!

Hosted by Judy Raper

Featuring Jessica Lenihan, Olivia Dow, and Donna DuSell

Produced by Alex Audette in the Teaching and Learning Innovation Center’s Multimedia Studio at Greenfield Community College (MA)

Breezeline Provides Digital Training to Empower Older Adults in Columbus and Greater Cleveland

Breezeline hosts interactive trainings to promote online skills

Columbus, Ohio, March 15, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Breezeline hosted two digital literacy seminars to empower older adults in Ohio with the knowledge and skills to effectively navigate the digital world. 

The trainings were held this week at the Dodge Community Center in Columbus and the Middleburg Heights Community Center in Middleburg Heights. Breezeline held the events in partnership with Cyber-Seniors, a non-profit that provides tech training and digital mentors to seniors. The interactive seminars showed attendees how to create an email address and other internet basics. 

“Seniors want to learn how they can incorporate digital technology into their lives,” said Steve Dockman, program manager for Middleburg Heights Community Center. “We appreciate Breezeline’s work with Cyber-Seniors to promote digital learning in Ohio.” 

Older adults are less likely to be connected to the internet or to have a smartphone, which can contribute to social isolation and deprive them of access to vital information and resources, including telemedicine.

“Trainings like these help older adults live more connected lives,” said Asha Burney, manager, Dodge Community Center. “We are grateful for Breezeline’s commitment to seniors in our community.”

This event is one of several steps Breezeline is taking to foster digital literacy and the responsible use of technology in its communities. Last week, Breezeline hosted a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) kit distribution at elementary schools in the Cleveland and Columbus areas.

To learn more about Breezeline’s commitment to digital literacy, please visit www.cyberseniors.org/breezeline.

DSBN student named one of 90 Finalists for 2024 Loran Award

Grade 12 student Felix Jeong was nominated for his “unwavering commitment and contributions to both his school and greater community”

ThoroldToday Staff

Chosen from a pool of over 5,000 applicants, Grade 12 District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) student Felix Jeong was recently named one of 90 Finalists for the prestigious 2024 Loran Award for his unwavering commitment and contributions to both his school and greater community.

The news was both welcome and unexpected for the Eden High School student; Jeong initially thought friends were playing a joke on him when he first received a call informing him that he was a finalist.

“I felt really nervous but happy and excited too, knowing the significance of past leadership roles I’ve held and my involvement with the community,” said Jeong. “It’s very personally fulfilling to be recognized for some of my most impactful and important accomplishments.”

The Loran Scholars Foundation identifies students with character and intrinsic leadership qualities who demonstrate a commitment to service. As the program’s website states, “We look for qualities that grades alone cannot show: a breadth of interest, and deep commitment to service, the courage to make difficult decisions, and the determination to work towards long-term goals.”

Jeong’s strength of character is most evident in his personal experience as a student at Eden High School. He arrived in Canada with his family from South Korea when he was in Grade 5 and did not speak English. Knowing first-hand the challenges he faced and the importance of the support he received from his teachers and friends, Jeong makes it a priority to welcome newcomers to his school to ensure they feel safe and included.

Along with compassion, Jeong’s application also highlights his leadership qualities. He has been a member of Eden’s student council for the past four years and is this year’s school Prime Minister. He is also an active participant in his school’s Yearbook Club, Ethics Bowl, Asian Equity Alliance, DECA, Ski Club, and varsity teams for badminton and baseball. Jeong also finds time to tutor students in almost all subject areas, providing them with excellent support given his academic standing which has been in the top five percent each year of his high school experience.

Despite several school-related commitments, Jeong makes time to create positive change in his community. He is an experienced tennis player who, along with competing as an OFSAA athlete, also volunteers as a coach. One of his most notable acts of service, however, has been through his volunteer work with Cyber Seniors, a non-profit organization that provides free technology training and support for senior citizens.

Jeong founded the Accessibility, Community, and Equity Committee (ACE) for this organization, with the goal of educating seniors about relevant and timely topics such as equity, diversity, and inclusion. He also taught monthly webinars to help bridge the technological gap, providing seniors with a safe and accessible space to learn and further their skills.

“I have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and drive,” shared Jeong. “There is no limitation to what you can do or how innovative you can be. My hope is to potentially make or do something that can positively affect others.”

More recently, Jeong traveled to Toronto to attend the Loran National Interviews, held at the end of February, where he had the chance to be named one of 36 Loran Scholars. Though Jeong was not selected, he, along with other Finalists, is eligible to receive a one-time $6,000 Loran Finalist Award, tenable at any Canadian university.

“Overall, it was an amazing experience!” shared Jeong. “This award will be very beneficial to me in my academic future.”

“I can’t think of a more deserving individual to become a Loran finalist,” said Kelly Parlatore, Principal of Eden High School. “Felix humbly approaches every aspect of his life with curiosity, positivity, and thoughtfulness. His leadership skills and passion for change will propel him towards his next adventure and our school could not be prouder.”

Jeong’s volunteer work aligns with his post-secondary plans; the soon-to-be-graduate has expressed interest in studying computer science or software engineering at one of his favoured Canadian universities.

Charter Hosts ‘Smart Devices for Seniors’ Program to Help them Connect

Pilot Program Offers Training for Non-English Speaking Senior Populations Who Want to Catch up with Younger Generations on Devices and Apps

Yaoming Xu, a 70-year-old living in the Los Angeles area, felt technology was moving faster than he could. He was missing out on connections with family and friends and wanted to learn more about devices and applications to help him catch up.

Xu attended “Smart Devices for Seniors,” a hands-on smart device training session, aimed at seniors 65 or older piloted by Spectrum in the greater Los Angeles area, in partnership with the OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, Cyber Seniors and the Chinatown Service Center. The hour-long class was free and taught in Mandarin, drawing nearly 100 seniors to two classes in November.

The training agenda included an introduction to Android devices, and downloading and navigating apps like WeChat, a popular messaging platform in China. During the sessions, Xu learned how to navigate the app, understand its basic features and can now add and engage with friends.

“I wanted to educate myself with the tech available to my generation,” said Xu. “Through the class, I learned how to reconnect and communicate with my friends and family on WeChat.”

Xu is not alone in feeling disconnected because of gaps in understanding technology. Laptops, tablets, smartphones and applications are changing rapidly and can cause some, particularly seniors, to feel left behind — especially when that means losing connection with family, friends, current events or ways of doing business.

“I wanted to learn how to use my phone,” said Anshu Yang, a 75-year-old participant. “I liked attending this class and learned how to send text messages. As an elderly person, this was invaluable.” 

Meeting Seniors’ Needs with Spectrum Program 

For some seniors in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, the divide and disconnect can be even more pronounced if English is their second language. This is troubling given that in a 2021 AARP survey of 3,000 people aged 18 and older, 42% of respondents aged 50 and older didn’t feel that technology was designed with them in mind, saying it was too complex, offered a poor user experience and insufficient training materials.

Smart Devices for Seniors Pilot Program Empowered Connection

“It was gratifying to see how engaged each participant was in learning new skills to help them stay in touch with loved ones or simply enjoy the benefits of connectivity,” said Marissa Lambrinos, Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Charter. “We believe this training can be adapted for seniors from many different backgrounds to enhance their digital understanding and plan to explore ways to provide it for other senior populations.”

For Xu and Yang, they are more empowered to reconnect with family and friends through new apps and are now interested in additional training.

“I would like to learn more about the different apps and learn how to watch news and sports events on my phone,” Xu said.

Yang added, “If there is another class, I want to attend.”

Learn more about Charter’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion here

‘I’m sorry for bothering you’: Woman calls her old phone number to get a verification code. She’s shocked by the response

Parks Kugle

Posted on Feb 8, 2024

Getting locked out of an account can really mess up your day, especially if the verification code was sent to an old phone number.

Luckily for TikToker Malorie Muligan (@malmully), the woman who got her old phone number actually answered her call.

With a friend filming her, Muligan documented her bizarre encounter with the current owner of her old number. The video has been viewed 4.9 million times as of the publication of this article.

It began with the older woman on the phone claiming that the text sent by TikTok had disappeared. “It’s gone. It’s disappeared,” she said before Muligan and her friend explained she needed to go into the Messages app.

Trying to contain their laughter, Muligan and her friend apologized for bothering the woman before she responded, “Yeah, I can’t do this, bye. OK, here’s Messages. I don’t see anything in Messages.”

“Did you see a text?” Muligan asked.

Then, the woman responded with the text number instead of the code.

“That was not it, ma’am,” Muligan responded.

The woman finally read the verification code, to Muligan’s and her friend’s excitement.

Multiple viewers marveled at the idea of calling your old number.

“Why have I never thought of this,” one said.

“This is actually so smart!!!” a second agreed.

Others shared similar experiences.

“This happened to me too and I literally thought they were trying to scam me,” a viewer said.

“I’ve had to do this twice with two different people that had my number. they were nice and helped me without complaining,” another added.

Some pointed out how most people would respond to a stranger asking for a verification code. “I would had hung up,” one wrote.

All in all, it was very fortunate that the older woman was able to locate the message. It may seem simple for people who grew up with this technology, but navigating their phones can be a real challenge for older adults. In fact, technology can be so difficult that two sisters documented how older adults learn to use the internet in a film titled Cyber-Seniors. They did it in an effort to show people how to teach their loved ones to use simple platforms like Facebook and Skype.

Another reason Muligan was lucky the woman answered is that most people would’ve assumed she was a scammer. Scams involving people asking for codes have grown in recent years. Fraudsters frequently ask people to read out codes to set up Google Voice accounts so they can obscure their identities. Others pretend to be companies you’re already dealing with, like your bank. They’ll ask for information and then claim to send a confirmation number through text message. Usually, when a stranger asks for a code, the sensible thing to do is hang up.

The Daily Dot reached out to Muligan via TikTok comments for further information.

Parks Kugle is a writer and reporter based in San Antonio. His work has appeared in Lumina Literary Journal, Wicked Local Newspapers, and various publications across the U.S. He enjoys comics and gardening.

My Turn: GCC effort turning elders into ‘Cyber Seniors’

By Judy Raper

Published: 02-12-2024 5:49 PM

It would be an understatement to say that our world is becoming increasingly digital and the pandemic has only accelerated this shift. The reality is one uses digital skills to pay bills, access health records, watch television, connect socially, access education, shop and so much more. Increasingly, strong digital skills are needed to meet our most basic needs, and this “new normal” alienates and marginalizes multiple demographics, including people living in rural areas and those living at or below the poverty line.

One of the demographics most impacted by digital exclusion are older adults. Given that one in three residents in Franklin County will be over the age of 65 by 2030, it is imperative that we lend resources, compassion and our collective will to addressing this issue.

A few years ago, Greenfield Community College established a program to address the digital equity challenge faced by older adults. It is modeled after the international program “Cyber Seniors” (cyberseniors.org/), and involves young people (who are digital natives) meeting one-on-one with older adults to assist them with laptops, phones, tablets and questions related to technology. This summer, the Greenfield Senior Center received a grant from the state Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and partnered with GCC allowing for significant expansion of this critically important program.

The impact of this program cannot be overstated. One participant said: “This is the most awesome opportunity I have had in my life in over 10 years. I am so excited and hope the program continues and grows!” You can register for an appointment here: gccfor.me/cyber.

An added and significant benefit of this initiative is the intergenerational bond that grows from spending time together learning about devices essential to quality of life. Young people have grown up in the digital world, but for older adults, technology is not our native language. Confidence grows for young people as they are able to share valuable information and expands for older adults as they acquire skills and knowledge that previously seemed unattainable.

Learning is best facilitated in the context of relationships. Cyber Senior tech mentor and GCC student Liv Dow said, “I have loved helping older adults develop the skills they need to connect with their family and friends. It makes a huge difference in their lives.”

Unquestionably, the evolution of technology in our society has allowed us to progress in important arenas, but has also resulted in unintended harms. Cyber Seniors affords us the opportunity to align technology with the opportunity to serve our collective best interests.

The additional financial resources afforded by the state grant has allowed GCC to hire Cyber Senior Coordinator Donna Dusell. “As someone who didn’t grow up with technology, but was an early adopter, I have appreciated seeing how both sides of the spectrum can come together to learn from each other and forge intergenerational connections,” Donna said.

In addition to expanding one-on-one hours, we have begun offering workshops about topics such as understanding email, organizing photos, cybersecurity, social media and more. All of these workshops are offered free of charge to participants. You can register here: gccfor.me/engage-tech. We have even developed a podcast by and for older adults covering topics such as music, dementia, intergenerational conversations, volunteer opportunities in the Pioneer Valley and more. It is called “Backyard Oasis.” You can listen to our podcast here: gccfor.me/backyard-oasis. We are always open to new ideas!

An essential role of any community college is to partner with local leaders and organizations to address challenges and serve as a cultural, social and educational anchor for the regions they serve. Indeed, they play a crucial role in the preservation of democracy. Democracy demands that individuals have fair access to the information required for full participation in society. We owe it to the older adults in our community and ourselves to do all we can to ensure digital inclusion.

When we strive for inclusion and equity, life is enhanced for all of us. Providing access to digital education is a requisite component of fulfilling that promise. Whether you are an older adult who desires to learn more about technology or know someone who could benefit from Cyber Seniors, we hope you will take advantage of this incredible resource. If you have suggestions or questions, please email me at raperj@gcc.mass.edu.

Judy Raper is associate dean for community engagement at Greenfield Community College.

The best tech support helplines for seniors (according to my 73-year-old mom)

We, the adult children, can’t always be their only resource.

Amy Skorheim

Commerce Writer

Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 9:00 AM EST

Engadget readers like yourself are probably more tech savvy than the average person. That means you may get roped into helping older family members with email woes, new phone setups, or deciphering if a message is legit or a phishing scam. In my family, I’ve become my mother’s unofficial IT support hotline, which makes me wonder about older adults with adult kids who are short on time. Turns out there are a number of resources staffed with actual people who will calmly walk seniors through just about any tech trouble they may face. Many local libraries and senior centers host classes and even one-on-one tech assistance to seniors for free, but if they can’t make it to a live session or there aren’t offerings in their area, phone hotlines and online services may be the answer.

For the past couple weeks, I used my mom and her frequently asked questions to try out a few of the senior tech hotlines out there and found three services that are refreshingly helpful, two of which are completely free and a third that includes a free option. If you know a senior who could use help with their tech, directing them to one of these services won’t feel like pawning them off, but rather like you’re sending them to an IT pro with endless patience.

Top three free senior tech support companies

Cyber-Seniors tech hotline

What surprised me most about Cyber-Seniors (and Senior Planet listed below) is that the service is completely free. Cyber-Seniors is a non-profit staffed by volunteers, most of whom are young people trained to act as “digital mentors” to an older generation. The service also offers daily webinars via Zoom on topics like accessing internet radio, finding senior networking sites and understanding disinformation.

For one-on-one tech help, there’s a simple form to fill out with basic information (email, date of birth, device type, etc) before picking an available date and time for the volunteer to call back. I scheduled a session for my mom when she wanted to figure out how to invite my brother to a Google Meet video chat. The time was set for noon on a Tuesday and she got the call right at the stroke of 12. She explained what she wanted to do and the volunteer patiently walked her through the steps to complete the task. My mother said she didn’t feel rushed, nor was she made to feel dumb for not knowing how to do basic things such as how to find my brother’s email address. The volunteer even let her try out a test Meet chat with him before their call was over.

Before signing off, the mentor told my mother to ring back at any time to speak with him specifically (there’s a field in the sign up form to request a mentor by name) or with anyone else on the Cyber-Seniors team.

Senior Planet from AARP

Senior Planet, another free hotline service, is offered by AARP but callers don’t need to be members to use it. Like Cyber-Seniors, there’s also a live online class component, and in-person sessions are offered in major cities across the US as well. If someone needs help immediately and doesn’t want to wait for a callback, this is the hotline to try. Monday through Friday from 9AM to 8PM Eastern, staff and volunteers answer questions about email, Zoom, iPhone notifications and other tech conundrums.

When I called, I reached one of the “technology trainers” within a minute. The hotline is best for simple questions, but for more involved tech training, Senior Planet recommends its live Zoom sessions that it hosts each day in which participants can ask questions. The classes cover tech-related issues like how to use Spotify and how AI works, but they also range wider to cover book club discussions and daily fitness sessions. And if anyone needs help joining a class, the hotline can help with that.

GoGoQuincy

GoGoQuincy was the first senior tech help service I heard about, and it has since refocused to offer assistance to anyone who needs it, not just people over 65. There’s a hotline for immediate aid or you can schedule a call through the website. It’s free the first time you call and once per month after that. More than one call each month incurs a $5 monthly fee, plus $11 per call. If you think you’ll call more than twice per month, it might be wise to pay $20 monthly for the unlimited plan.

Though it’s not free, GoGoQuincy covers the most ground, answering questions about smart home tech, TVs, e-readers and more, and even provides assistance with sussing out scams and phishing. I set up a call for my mother when she found she had notifications silenced on her iPhone and didn’t know how to unsilence them. There was a little hiccup when Quincy called her back and her phone (for unknown reasons) blocked their number, but I walked her through how to unblock a number and she was ready for her session.

Much like Cyber-Seniors, my mom felt unrushed while explaining her issue. The technician led her through the fix, unbothered by any lack of understanding and stayed on the line with her until she received a few test texts and to make sure everything was working properly. Despite the fact that it’s a potentially paid program, the GoGoQuincy rep didn’t try to upsell a membership or get her to sign up for anything — they just wished her a good day and told her to call back if she ever needed more help.

GoodLife in Concord celebrates 10 years with an open house (technology included)

By David Brooks, Monitor Staff

When it comes to senior citizens and technology, the problem isn’t really that things are too complicated. The problem is that they won’t stand still.

“Technology is an issue with a lot of seniors – it changes so quickly,” said Lori Mckinney, program manager for GoodLife Programs and Activities, which has provided services for people over the age of 50 at the Smokestack Center in Concord for 10 years.

After all, some of GoodLife’s participants were in their 30s when America Online brought the internet to the attention of the general public, so it’s not as if computers are a foreign concept to them. But learning and then discarding how to cope with technical change after technical change can get exhausting – all those tips you mastered to operate Windows 95 or the VCR are useless now – and assistance might be required to keep up.

“There’s always a need for talks about cellphones, tablets, the internet, emails, posting photos on social media, whatever it might be,” said Mckinney.

The most recent example was last Tuesday, when Breezline, the telephone/internet company, held a seminar on email basics.  They followed it up with one at a Rochester community center, in partnership with the non-profit Cyber-Seniors, an organization that provides training and digital mentoring.

Mckinney said the pandemic showed the most technologically reluctant of seniors the value of being online, making such assistance even more important.

“We had some folks that for a long time didn’t want anything to do with any of that stuff. But especially during and after COVID they realized it’s a way to keep in touch with family and friends … and to do things,” she said.  “It’s another tool that we can use to help engage people.”

GoodLife will be celebrating its years of helping with an open house on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. at its offices at 254 N. State St. More than 150 people have registered for the free event. 

GoodLife evolved from the closing of the Centennial Home for the Aged, what is now the Centennial Hotel, in the 1990s. It became the Centennial Senior Center but changed to GoodLife when it moved to the Smokestack Center 10 years ago.