Tech-savvy Summit County seniors
Hans Kuschnerus has a vision: He wants Summit County seniors to be the most tech-savvy in the whole country. To achieve this, he has implemented a new computer service called the Computer and Communications Concierge at the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco. The program combines experienced consultants, structured seminars, weekly sessions and qualified volunteers to help seniors in their quest to keep up with current technology trends. Kuschnerus spent 30 years of his career working in computers at Ford Motor Company, and said the service originally started out as a business idea. After he was approached at the center to help other members with computer problems, he figured he would offer his service on a volunteer basis. Kuschnerus said members of the senior community struggle to stay on top of fast-moving computer technology, and aren’t always willing to ask for help.”Right now we have a whole lot of intimidated people,” he said. He said the most interest so far is in basic terminology and e-mail techniques. Kuschnerus said that while all of the different e-mail forums are similar, they all employ different icons, buttons and pull-down windows. He compares it to finding switches on a rental car at night. Technology such as Facebook, Skype and digital photos are also of interest to clients. Kuschnerus said many people just want to be able to communicate long-distance with children and grandchildren. “We want people to be able to communicate with their children and grandchildren, using all of these things the grandchildren are so familiar with,” he said. After hearing of Kuschnerus’ idea, other members of the center also offered their expertise, leading Kuschnerus to create a database outlining everyone’s skills – such as program expertise, network issues, and hardware and software technology – and ranking them on a scale of 1 to 10. Program clients can browse the database and call volunteers whenever they need advice. Kuschnerus said the volunteers are all retirees with a wide array of backgrounds: financial consulting, engineering, real estate and even medical.Help sessions are conducted every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon, and a structured seminar is offered once a month. The center has several computers available for client use to “increase their skills and confidence with hands-on use.” Kuschnerus said he thinks he has a good chance of achieving his objective, although he doesn’t know how it could be measured. He said he wasn’t aware of an effort like his elsewhere. The first two seminars, held Jan. 25 and Feb. 15, will cover computer basics. In the long term, Kuschnerus hopes to cover broader topics like cloud computing. He hopes that the group will evolve into a working and learning community. Kuschnerus said he would like to invite Summit County community members to join the program, as both consultants and clients. Services are free, but a modest donation to the center is suggested to help defray expenses.”The more (people) we have, the more we can cover,” he said.
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