Photo: San Francisco’s Downtown Senior Center team
San Francisco’s Downtown Senior Center serves as a hub for activities and social connections for countless older adults. For nearly a decade, the center has been an invaluable partner to CTN. In 2013, CTN’s Kate Sheludziayeva tutored the center’s large population of Russian-speaking seniors to improve their tech skills. In 2014, we kicked off computer basics classes at the center’s computer lab. CTN has continued to work with hundreds of seniors at the center — holding teaching events, conducting classes, and recruiting volunteers to help out in the lab.
When the pandemic halted all in-person activities in early 2020, the lab was no longer a viable venue for training. Fortunately, the Downtown Senior Center quickly became one of CTN’s largest Home Connect referral sources. Its staff helped dozens of seniors enroll in our virtual digital literacy training program and stay connected from the safety of home. We will continue to offer Home Connect lessons to the Center’s learners, but we are excited to work with some of them face-to-face once more!
The Downtown Senior Center officially reopened its computer lab last July, making it our first partner site to reopen a lab. It is currently open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., and requires all visitors to present their COVID vaccination card before signing in. The lab serves as a great place for seniors of all skill levels to drop by, explore the internet, ask questions, or just practice using technology. Select SF-based CTN volunteers serve as on-site trainers, helping walk-in learners with any tech questions or issues they might have. One of these volunteers, Rafael Z., enjoys the friendly spirit of the computer lab and working directly with the community.
Here’s what the Downtown Senior Center team had to say about our mutually beneficial partnership:
Our partnership with CTN has given us the opportunity to put technology in the hands of our participants as well as provide them with the skills to use it. This has opened opportunities for our participants to stay connected with friends and family during this stressful time of isolation as well as helping them access virtual classes, medical appointments, online shopping, banking, and more. The on-site tutors have been able to help our participants with using the computer lab as well as understanding their own personal devices. Access to technology reduces many barriers that were exacerbated by the conditions we have faced due to the pandemic. By partnering with CTN we were able to assist participants with maintaining or improving their independence and ability to remain in their homes.
Thank you, Downtown Senior Center, for continually helping CTN transform lives through digital literacy!