On Friday, April 7, fifteen senior citizens, ages 62-82 years, participated in a ceremony to receive framed certificates for completing the “Wisdom Meets Technology” (WTM) course. The class was taught at New Bern Towers by Craven Community College (Craven CC) instructor Billie Mason. The celebration escalated to loud cheers and some tears upon the surprise announcement that the seniors were receiving laptops for their own use.
The WTM course was the idea of Corliss Udoema who is a former New Bern resident and Manassas, Va., business owner who was recently named Virginia Small Business Person of the Year. Udoema said as a senior citizen herself, she knew seniors need to be familiar with technology for daily living and to stay connected with family. The course tuition was paid for by Udoema’s nonprofit AGAPE Love in Action.
Based on a successful first class held in 2016 at Central Carolina Community College, Udoema was looking for additional locations for the WTM class and contacted Craven CC Workforce Development program coordinator Jeff Schulze. He contacted Tasha Simmons at the 106-unit New Bern Towers located on Walt Bellamy Drive. “I was more than excited because residents had been talking about wanting a computer lab and classes,” said Simmons.
According to Schulze, the 72-hours class teaches seniors basic digital literacy skills including keyboarding, using free word processing and spreadsheet software, connecting to the Internet, creating a Facebook account, and setting up and using an email account. Schulze said about half the students were New Bern Tower residents. Schulze said the location is very convenient and the fifth floor community room has a nice view of Lawson Creek.
Udoema said providing senior-friendly training that effects change in their lives is among the goals of the WMT class. “I want to take the fear out of it and respect the wisdom and knowledge of senior citizens.” She said she also knows how important it is for her to stay in touch with grandchildren and great grandchildren through her computer, so she wanted to give this opportunity to others through this training.
“I knew if I partnered with the college, they would make sure everything was done right,” said Udoema. She also said she was very happy with the collaboration between her organization, the college and the Housing Authority of the City of New Bern.
New Bern Towers resident Molichia Hardy said she took the class because she is always willing to learn something new. “I’m glad I took the class and we had a great teacher,” said Hardy. She said, “We have a lot of people in this building so it would be nice for more residents to take the class.”
Simmons said the residents were very appreciative of the class and she is hoping to have more classes in addition to computer classes at New Bern Towers. “They were so happy when they are doing something, accomplishing things, and meeting others like themselves,” said Simmons.
For more information and to sign up for a future WTM class, contact Simmons at 252-638-3663.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in New Bern Sun Journal.