Claude Ury is in a hurry. Pulling slips of paper from his pocket, Ury sits down at his favorite computer at Valencia Gardens technology lab. He begins to search the internet and check his emails.
Ury, a professional writer, reviews books for local libraries, the Library Journal, and the Journal of Personality & Society. He also writes book reviews for Sacramento and San Francisco papers. His specialties are economics, education, sociology, immigration, and early American history.
Ury writes his reviews in longhand before arriving at the lab and handing them to Judy Auda, Community Living Campaign’s computer coordinator, who enters them on the computer. “I have trouble typing, I get frustrated,” Ury explains, “Judy types while I dictate.”
An April 2015 report prepared by the Budget and Legislative Analyst for Supervisor Eric Mar found that “only 69 percent of San Francisco residents over the age of 65 have home internet access compared to 96 percent under the age of 45.” Unlike many seniors who visit the CLC lab, Ury has home internet access. He needs help with typing and likes the community atmosphere.
Computer Help and Community at Valencia Gardens
You can find CLC’s Auda at the Valencia Gardens tech lab every Monday from 9am-3pm. “I’m here to answer questions, to help where I’m needed,” she said. She estimates that about 18 seniors visit the lab each Monday – some younger people with disabilities also stop in. Most of the regulars live in the community.
Some come to do business; others catch up on email, watch videos, check medical information, or play brain games. Although the lab is usually fairly quiet – even Judy’s dog who sits by the front door, rarely barks – there’s enough back and forth to start friendships. To further that sense of community, every third Monday, Auda orders lunch for the group and they all sit around and talk.
In addition to the Monday open lab hours, Auda and other CLC tutors offer a class on Photoshop, Genealogy, Pinterest or other topics each Monday. Olga Poveda-Serrano, one of CLC’s bilingual tutors staffs the lab on Friday mornings from 9 – 11 for seniors and adults with disabilities who want technology help in Spanish.
Technology Help for Seniors and People with Disabilities
The Valencia Gardens lab is one of thirteen sites where CLC offers open tech labs and computer classes. “We begin with classes on topics of interest to seniors and the disabled – social media, photography, genealogy, etc. As participants overcome fears and gain confidence, they learn to use the internet to research health, financial or transportation information and remain connected to family and friends.” For a complete schedule of CLC computer classes, check www.sfcommunityliving.org or call Judy Auda at 415-826-3194.
The Community Living Campaign’s technology and social media classes receive funding from SF Connected through the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS). In addition to the CLC program, SF Connected also funds the free technology labs and classes offered by the Community Technology Network, Self-Help for the Elderly, and Conard House at their sites. To see a calendar of all of the classes supported by SF Connected, go to www.sfconnected.org or call 415-355-3555.