Computer Labs and Workshops Expand Residents’ Digital Reach
Many of us rely on computers for a host of daily activities, such as browsing the internet, making online purchases, composing and printing documents, or staying connected with family or friends. In this digital world, low-income seniors are sometimes disadvantaged because they may not own a personal computer, can’t afford the internet access fees, or lack the technical skills to navigate a computer. In seeking to provide more than a home, CCH is tackling these issues, opening up computer access and expanding digital literacy for residents at many of our communities.
CCH provides computer labs with internet access at more than 25 communities. Working in conjunction with site leaders, our three-person Information Technology team — IT Director Seong Kim and System Administrators Joseph Swift and Alex Rumiansev — maintains 51 site computers through remote access. They are also available for consultation if problems or questions arise.
The computers are configured to restore themselves to a baseline state which deletes any previous data entered by a user. “This process helps maintain the computers by wiping out potential viruses and malware. It also protects users,” Seong explains. “The computers are wiped clean after each use so the next person doesn’t have access to the previous users’ information.”
The majority of residents use the computers for browsing the internet, reading emails, making appointments and connecting on social media with family and friends. “They are also useful if someone needs to compose a letter or print documents,” says Seong.
As an added service, last year CCH began a digital literacy program at six communities covering basic computer and internet use. Taught in conjunction with Tech Exchange, the series of four, two-hour workshops gave residents personalized instruction and hands-on training. Those who completed the eight-hour course received a free, refurbished computer for their personal use.
“We were excited to bring this program to our residents,” shares Social Service Coordinator Ally Lou of Harrison Street Senior Housing. “This was the first time some of our residents ever touched a computer. They were so excited; it was like a new toy and opened a whole new world of knowledge for them.”
CCH is currently re-applying for a grant from the Communications Division of the California Public Utilities Commission, which funded the original program, and hopes to expand the workshops to more communities later this year.
By providing access to computer laps and digital literacy workshops, this is one more way CCH is striving to further our mission To Provide Affordable Quality Housing in Caring Communities.