Partnerships address seniors’ digital divide

Comcast teamed up with The Volen Center in Boca Raton for the south county launch of the Palm Beach County Senior Digital Literacy Initiative, an effort to address seniors’ digital divide.

“This is a countywide initiative for unwired seniors with an emphasis on low-income seniors,” Alex Price, Comcast’s director of Government Affairs & Community Investment – Florida Region, said at the July Fourth-themed luncheon the company sponsored June 27.

“Our seniors need to get into the technology age,” said Patrick Franklin, president and CEO of the Urban League of Palm Beach County. “Technology has left a lot of our seniors behind and we’re trying to bridge the gap.”

The league will instruct the trainers for this and five other sites in the county for free digital training classes.

The Volen Center, 1515 W. Palmetto Park Road, has a computer lab that will be enlarged with more instruction in late summer and early fall, Price said.

“Most seniors tell me they’re not connected,” keynote speaker Kim Clawson, Helpline director for the Area Agency on Aging, told an audience of 225 seniors. “Most of you have family and friends who are out of state.”

“This is great for our families who receive financial assistance,” said Megan Clemmons, executive director of The YMCA Community Outreach Center in the Peter Blum Family YMCA of Boca Raton. “About 1,500 people will get a mailing and there will be signups at the Y.”

The YMCA has a preschool in The Volen Center and The YMCA of South Palm Beach County also oversees the Devos-Blum Family YMCA in Boynton Beach.

“This is helping our seniors to become more independent and pay their bills and buy things online,” said Jared Policano, Volen’s chief operating officer.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams encouraged the audience to learn how to go online to stay in touch with family and get essential county information on hurricanes. Councilman Scott Singer represented the city of Boca Raton.

Comcast brought along 20 employees and set up shop next to the computer to explain Internet Essentials to center users. The program for qualified households offers an Internet connection for $9.95 with no contract or credit check, no installation fee and a discount for a computer.

CHRIS SALAMONE

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Author: Chris Salamone

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