Seniors 2 Seniors is a community program in which tech-savvy high school seniors teach senior citizens basic computer and internet skills. Pioneered by telecommunications and broadband industry veteran Bill Gerski, the goal of Seniors 2 Seniors is to show seniors how to use computers so they can stay connected with family and friends, utilize telemedicine or health care from home, access government online tools, utilize online banking, and work and shop from home.
“Over 40% of the members at Tri-County Rural Electric are senior citizens,” says Gerski. “Many of them lack computer skills or are unaware of all of the ways the internet can enhance their lives. I wanted to help seniors gain knowledge of computers without intimidating them.”
Seniors 2 Seniors is a hands-on program led by an instructor who has vast experience in the field of information technology. Additionally, the seniors are being supported in the classroom by senior high school students who have an interest in and experience with computers and technology.
Courses are hosted by the four senior centers in Potter County on an eight-week rotating schedule. Senior citizens receive individualized, on-site support from the students, who walk about the instruction area offering assistance as needed.
Over the eight-week course, seniors get instruction on basic computing skills, conducting internet searches with Google, setting up an email account and sending email, saving and storing documents and files, using social networking such as Skype and Facetime, and handling and sharing photos. There are also components dealing with online banking and cybersecurity.
Some of the attendees bring their own devices to the class, but the Education Council also provides laptops for use during the class meetings.
For information about the Seniors 2 Seniors program, contact the Potter County Education Council at 814-274-4877.
In September 2020, Tri-Co Connections was one of several companies that were nominated for, and awarded, the highly competitive Digital Opportunity Equity Recognition (DOER) Award by the Federal Communications Commission for their innovative work in safely bringing high-speed internet and voice service to customers in rural Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 pandemic. FCC Commissioner Starks stated, “It is clear that our long-standing digital divide has morphed into a monstrous new COVID-19 divide. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through now, I have heard stories about the innovative and rapid ways individuals, non-profit organizations, and companies are responding to the connectivity needs of people across this country who are seeking access to medical professionals via telehealth services, education, and safe ways to communicate with family and friends. In response to these efforts, I put out an open call to hear about heroic DOERs who have stepped up in their communities to ensure that no one gets left behind because they lack broadband connectivity. I believe every applicant is worthy of recognition but there were several that rose to the top because of the scope of their accomplishments and the impact they made.”