Boulder Volunteer Spearheads Successful “Tech to Connect” Program

Sue Mackey
Sue Mackey

Sue Mackey, a Boulder Jewish Family Service (JFS) volunteer, recently started a wonderful program to help connect local isolated older adults with their families. Sue explains the program and how she got the idea:

A couple of weeks into sheltering-at-home, my mother, who lives in a senior residence in Illinois, was increasingly becoming more restricted from her social activities. Then she and the other residents had to be relegated to having meals alone in their apartments. So, of course she was on the phone a lot more with my three siblings and me for something to do. None of us had ever even been able to text her or send her pictures because she still uses a flip phone. Then I remembered she had an older iPad that she hadn’t been able to use for a couple of years.

I asked her caregiver to pull it out and see if she could figure out a way for us to video chat and, bless her, she set my mom up with an Apple ID and had her FaceTime me within the hour! With all the imposed restrictions, this small feat of technology has made a world of difference to her (and to me). One day we were FaceTiming, each holding our devices looking at each other on our laps, and she said to me, “I can’t believe this. It is just like you are right here visiting!” We are also now able to send her pictures and links to interesting videos that she enjoys, and we knocked her socks off by celebrating her 90th birthday on Zoom.

Experiencing first-hand what a difference it can make to see the person you are talking to made me think about the thousands of other older adults who are in a similar situation. And I figured there were probably plenty of other older iPads sitting in people’s homes with no apparent use. Through posts on Next Door and making requests via our personal networks, we are seeing a stream of iPads coming our way! David Clark, a technology volunteer at the Lafayette Public Library, has been single-handedly refreshing and setting up each tablet so that it’s ready to FaceTime or Zoom. We are happy to be enhancing the already-successful Friendly Visitor program of Jewish Family Service.

So far, Sue has collected nearly 20 iPads that we have distributed to older adults at Golden West. We plan to distribute more at other residential facilities in the future. If you would like to donate a used iPad, please drop it off with the security guard at the Boulder JCC, 6007 Oreg Avenue, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm with a note that it’s for JFS. Before you drop off the iPad, please go into Settings/General/Reset and wipe the device clean of any of your personal information! Also, please be sure that it has a camera, and if you can include a power cord, that will be much appreciated.

About Jewish Family Service

Founded 150 years ago, we currently offer more than 30 programs and services, including food security, housing stability, mental health counseling, aging care, employment support, and disability services. JFS takes a holistic approach, assessing the various needs of the individual or family and provides the appropriate services all from one organization.

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