Current and former volunteers and participants are invited to attend a celebration event on July 12th from 12-1PM at the Louden Nelson Senior Center (301 Center St Santa Cruz). This event will be followed by a regularly scheduled Senior Tech Day program from 1-3PM. See flyer for more information.
The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County is proud to announce we were selected as one of 4 Volunteer Centers in the Nation to receive a One America Innovation Grant provided in partnership with JP Morgan Chase and Co. and the HandsOn Network. The grants are designed to bolster innovative program models for addressing critical community needs that have the potential to be replicated in other communities.
We were awarded for the development of Senior Tech Day run by their YouthServe program. Senior Tech Day utilizes the skills of teen volunteers to provide monthly workshops for seniors who are struggling with technology and personal devices.
“The program initially started 3 years ago because we were looking for more concrete and meaningful ways for teens to use their personal skills to change lives in our community. Technology happens to be one thing that many teens are excellent at. As digital natives, the average high school student seems to have an innate gift for navigating technology and personal devices”, states Volunteer Center Executive Director Karen Delaney.
Youthserve staff then reached out local senior centers to see if they could pair this skill set with seniors in need.
“Indeed the need was great. Many seniors have begun to feel increasingly isolated from their family, friends and community as more and more of our communication become centered around devices, social media and aps. Month after month seniors have flocked to the free workshops to get their questions answered about their personal devices or to learn to connect online,” states Delaney.
Participating teens are provided with training on effective methods for conveying information and are able to use this training to translate their ease with technology into a sense of ease for seniors.
“The teens have been able to give seniors not only new skills but confidence that learning about new technology is useful, doable, and sometimes downright fun. We think we have found an excellent pairing and are excited to not only expand the program in our community but help other communities replicate it as well”, states Delaney.
Volunteer Center staff were awarded for the Senior Tech Day Project on Tuesday June 17 in Atlanta Georgia at the 2014 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, which runs through Thursday and annually convenes more than 4000 service sector leaders from around the world.
Executive Director Karen Delaney had the opportunity to take the stage to pitch the project for additional funds at the first-ever HandsOn Network Innovation and Social Impact Forum, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, where she competed before a panel of service leaders. She was awarded $15,000 for her efforts.
The Volunteer Center was informed of winning the grant only last week and a professional film crew was immediately brought in to help them devise their pitch for the conference forum.
“Think Shark Tank for good. It has been a very exciting process and we are thrilled to share that we won the award”, states Delaney.
With the additional funds, Youthserve will be able to open the project to a wider number of locations providing senior services and will purchase additional technology in order to have learning tools on hand.
“We look forward to returning from conference and diving into program expansion. We also want to honor all those who have helped make this project a success and therefore have organized a program celebration,” states Delaney.