When Rafael Z. found himself with extra time on his hands, he knew that volunteering would be a fulfilling way to spend it. The San Francisco native has worked a variety of jobs over the years. After graduating with a degree in sociology, he has worked with nonprofit organizations and regularly picks up freelance work and one-off jobs. This eclectic career lends Rafael plenty of flexibility to organize his own schedule and invest in his community.
“I really enjoy volunteering,” says Rafael. “I haven’t done much of it since the pandemic started. I wanted to get a little more involved, especially since work has been a little slow. I knew it’d be a good way to end the year.”
As a subscriber to dozens of volunteer email lists, Rafael can’t quite remember how he came across CTN’s opportunities. We’re glad he did, though! After completing his volunteer training, Rafael became a regular at our San Francisco partner site, the Downtown Senior Center. Unlike many of our digital coach volunteers — who virtually train learners one-on-one — Rafael works with ongoing learners and new tech users in person. Every week, he spends an afternoon at the Center’s computer lab answering tech-related questions for whoever happens to walk in. To ensure that this service is utilized, the Center staff created a calendar with times that volunteers would be in the lab.
In his second week volunteering, Rafael had a great turnout. One of the seniors wanted to know how to take a photo of his vaccination card for restaurants and in-person activities. Another learner needed help installing a mouse on his laptop. The questions weren’t too difficult for Rafael, but he enjoys helping the seniors solve problems and get the most out of the internet. He also finds satisfaction in helping his community feel more connected.
“One reason I started working at the computer lab is to connect people. Technology is a good way for the Latino community to communicate with families at home in Latin American countries,” Rafael reflects. “It can provide a little bit of connection, to communicate with family, friends, making other friends online, things like that. It’s also not just about helping others. At the same time, they teach me a lot. I really enjoy that interaction with others — I just love people!”
CTN is lucky to have such a warm presence at the Downtown Senior Center. If you’re interested in volunteering with us in person, the computer lab is a great place to get involved. Spend an afternoon helping your community! Check out our volunteer page today!