THE PACIFIC CENTRAL AREA
Written by: Trian Gunney (youth from Mt. Diablo UU Church in Walnut Creek)
Audrey is a widow who lives far away from her three adult daughters. She owns an iPhone, but doesn’t really know how to use it. Using my own technology expertise, I tutored her with her iPhone and helped her learn how to use it. I showed her how to check the news, check the weather, and keep up with texts and calls. I also helped her learn how to use her Apple Watch, which she uses to track her exercise and sleep schedules. She is now able to video chat with her doctor, text her grandchildren, and stay better connected with her friends and family.
Audrey is my grandmother, and she was the inspiration for a new project that would transform lives at Mount Diablo Unitarian Universalist church in Walnut Creek. I organized two events in which youth volunteers were able to tutor seniors with their devices. The seniors learned different skills like texting and posting on Facebook, and got many of their technology questions answered in a classroom-style setting. The youth liked being able to share their expertise, and the seniors felt empowered by their new skills and raved about the youthful energy.
In order to keep their skills sharp and continue helping them, I created a monthly, ongoing Tech Cafe. It is a table in the church’s social hall where seniors can drop in for a technology lesson or a question about a device. Two youth volunteers staff the table each first Sunday of the month.
Do you think a program like this would be beneficial for your church’s elders? It’s easy to implement! Here’s how it’s done:
1. Find a youth organizer and a staff advisor (most likely a director of religious education or youth group leader). Our staff advisor was Marena McGregor, Assistant Director of Lifespan Religious Education.
2. Plan the kickoff technology event by booking a venue, gathering supplies, drafting volunteers, and enrolling seniors.
3. Host a training session for teens to cover expectations for the event.
4. Spread the word! Hand out flyers and put an advertisement in your church’s publications (order of service, newsletter).
5. Host the event. Give a short presentation introducing the volunteers and your plan for implementing a technology program, and briefly describe some frequently used platforms. I also developed handouts for many common apps. Then, allow time for the youth to tutor seniors individually or in small groups.
6. Plan the monthly Tech Cafes. Make signs and flyers to spread the word among the congregation. I recommend using the website SignUpGenius to schedule youth volunteers.
7. Make a basket of supplies for your Tech Cafe Sundays. Include pencils, note cards, and a sign to hang on a wall.
8. Get rolling! Have two teens staff the technology table (located in a common space) one Sunday of the month.
Now that we are all sheltering in place, our congregation is especially glad our elders are more tech savy!
Check out this video to see how I did this project: