San Diego, CA–When the COVID-19 pandemic began over a year ago, seniors who may have been shy about technology were forced to learn and adapt to a new means of communicating and engagement.
However, doing so was not easy or possible for some despite technology adoption among seniors steadily increasing over the years. A technology gap was apparent, but nonprofit organizations like San Diego Oasis have stepped in to bridge this “digital divide” among older adults through the delivery of tablets, free internet, training sessions, and access to a variety of Oasis classes.
“First and foremost, thank you San Diego Oasis for the opportunity to receive my tablet and take part in the Digital Divide Program,” says Jeraldine McCue, San Diego Oasis member. “Being cooped up at home during the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult, especially since I’m used to being out and about working as a senior companion, helping other older adults. This tablet not only helped me keep in contact with the seniors that I was helping, but also gave me the opportunity to take San Diego Oasis classes from home.”
Through its Digital Divide Program, San Diego Oasis works to identify those in need who may not have access to technology, are isolated, or who aren’t tech-savvy in senior living residences and community organizations.
At no cost, San Diego Oasis provides a Samsung tablet, internet for 12 months, and training to learn how to engage with technology upon receiving their new device. A coupon is also provided for several free San Diego Oasis classes to not only offer active learning but also engage with other local older adults. This Digital Divide Program is only available through qualifying partnerships with senior living facilities and organizations that serve older adults in need, like Island Village Apartments, where nearly 30 residents received tablets from San Diego Oasis.
The tablets are not for sale and are not available directly, but only through qualified organizations in San Diego county.
“We thank San Diego Oasis for providing the tablets to our residents and the detailed one-on-one instructions,” says Eunice Gonzalez, Resident Service Coordinator, Island Village Apartments. “Our residents will truly benefit from both the tablets and the classes. With the increase in social isolation this last year, having a means to communicate with others and learn the wonders of technology will really help seniors stay connected. Our residents have only had the tablets for a few days and already the feedback is amazing!”
Community support is needed to help San Diego Oasis in its mission to reach local older adults and enrich their day-to-day lives, especially as the pandemic continues with new variants – the organization needs the community to continue its Digital Divide Program. Research has shown older adults need technology not only to keep themselves safe and physically healthy but also to enhance their lives by keeping them occupied and connected. Corporate sponsors are also needed to teach and sponsor classes to allow San Diego Oasis to continue to offer them for free or at low cost.
San Diego Oasis is seeking volunteers to train older adults on their new devices. Tech-savvy volunteers will both train older adults and help with the coordination and delivery of tablets. For those not able to support in person, financial donations are welcome and will help engage future program participants.
“Today’s seniors are among the most active persons in our society, and San Diego Oasis is focused on changing the perception of aging and empowering our learners to take a leap of faith to advance their technology skillset,” says Simona Valanciute, president and CEO, San Diego Oasis. “Once they can see and experience the new world technology has to offer, they build their confidence and can continue to create meaningful connections to feel less isolated.”
To date, funding for the Digital Divide Program has been provided by The San Diego Foundation, SDG&E, North County Covid Recovery Fund, Matthews Foundation, C.J. and Dot Stafford Memorial Trust, and Gary and Mary West Foundation – resulting in San Diego Oasis distributing to and training more than 500 seniors since October 2020. Future support for the Digital Divide Program will help San Diego Oasis to increase the number served in San Diego and prevent isolation and loneliness in even more older adults.
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating, or becoming a corporate sponsor, contact Jolyn Parker at (858) 353-0439.
For more information about classes offered at San Diego Oasis, visit www.SanDiegoOasis.org