What is Senior Connects?
In 2003, the Senior Connects Corporation began providing service to senior citizens. It was the organization’s first program and the corporation’s name until 2004, when additional programs were added and the name of the company was changed to Net Literacy.
Senior Connects focuses on increasing computer access and digital inclusion at senior centers, retirement apartments, and independent living facilities. Through the Senior Connects programs, over 11,000 residents received computer and Internet access by 2004. At the end of 2008, Senior Connects provided computers to well over 100 senior citizen facilities impacting 44,000 residents. By 2010, the number of senior citizens impacted by the Senior Connects program exceeded 50,000 individuals.
Many seniors are excited to learn how to traverse the Internet and especially about the prospect of staying touch by emailing family members. Just as importantly, these extensive community service activities have provided the student-volunteers with invaluable leadership and interpersonal skills to complement their technical expertise. Senior Connects programs have also included chapters that invited senior citizens into the high school’s computer labs after the school day so that students could help teach seniors. At some locations, students provide computers and the facilities agree to provide broadband and train seniors themselves. Net Literacy works to meet the needs of a wide range of organizations that serve seniors.
The impact of Senior Connects was described by Graham Richard, former Mayor of Fort Wayne in a magazine article written by the mayor entitled Teens Bridge Digital, Generational Divide. The mayor describes how Senior Connects student volunteers were able to teach his own mother. Senior Connects – as seniors cross the digital divide, students cross the intergenerational divide.