GREEN RIVER – Research shows that playing simple games on computers and tablets promotes brain health. The library at the Golden Hour Senior Center includes a mismatched mix of monitors, keyboard and towers that have been donated over the years, but they aren’t advanced or plentiful enough to meet current needs.
“Our seniors deserve new technology,” said Irish Kreis, Golden Hour activities and marketing coordinator.
Golden Hour is running a fundraising campaign to collect $10,000 to fix up the room, buy new equipment and better connect seniors mentally and socially. On Friday the center hosted A Night of a Thousand Lights dinner and dance, which put them at about 60% of their goal.
While there are multiple computers in the library, only one connects to the internet. Some have broken USB drives or other software or hardware limitations. While some entities have offered to donate their used computers, Kreis said it’s time that seniors get to work with brand-new machines.
The planned renovation will add three stations so computer users have personal workspace and privacy, which the current room configuration lacks.
“No one wants to fill out medical information with someone behind them,” Kreis said.
The center also wants to purchase iPads that can be used anywhere in the building. That will expand access and allow visitors to be more sociable.
“The senior center is a lifesaver for many of us,” Charlene Miller said. “If they don’t have it, they’ll try to get it for us.”
Miller has been going to the center for at least 20 years, stopping by to eat meals even before she retired. She started going every day after her husband died.
The center provides seniors somewhere to come where they feel comfortable doing things, according to Miller, who Kreis described as the most logged-in person at Golden Hour. She noted that those who sit at the computers regularly interact with the bridge players who share the room. Adding iPads will allow these types of connections to occur throughout the facility.
Staff also hopes to expand the reach of the internet, replace the old carpet, move the copy machine into the room, and add a shredder. WyoData Security, which has partnered with Golden Hour in the past, will provide a locked, secured shred bin.
Miller added that the library needs chairs that don’t wobble, as she demonstrated their tendency to teeter if shaken. They’d also like to repaint the walls, but Kreis admitted that’s the lowest item on the wish list.
She hopes they reach their goal by the Craft Fair, when all the rooms are cleared out for the annual event. That will allow them to add the upgrades without extra disruptions. The 2019 Craft Fair is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. Nov. 30 and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1.
CONNECTING PEOPLE WITH OPPORTUNITIES
Miller is a common fixture at the center. She spends so much time there, her time at the library was interrupted Monday when the front desk relayed that she had a call from Exxon Mobil. It couldn’t reach her at home, so it called the center.
Exxon Mobil workers volunteered to paint Miller’s bathrooms and kitchen as part of the United Way Helping Hands program. She said that if she didn’t attend the senior center, she wouldn’t have been aware of opportunities like that.
“I don’t know what I’d do without this place. I’d probably be bored and as big as a house,” she said.
Others expressed similar thankfulness for the center and its talented staff.
Charlene shared the observation of a man who stated that he had started his schooling in the building and that he is going to end his life in the building.
In the meantime, a new computer lab means people can continue their education in the old school.
PROMOTING TECH SKILLS
Not only does the center want to add more technology, but it wants to empower seniors to be able to use them. As the push increases to do more business online, some need help to make the transition.
Education can be as important as access. A survey of Golden Hour users shows that many have internet or computers, but they don’t use them at home, according to Kreis.
As part of its educational outreach, Golden Hour will host Senior High Tech from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 9 at the center to provide free technology tutoring and a free lunch. Through a collaboration between Green River High School, the senior center and AARP Wyoming, students will provide one-on-one assistance. Seniors can bring their devices and questions about using smartphones, laptops, email, Facebook and other technology. The helpful Wolves will be able to help seniors find old emails, send photos to loved ones, or add apps to their phones.
Participants do not have to be an AARP member to attend, though they must sign up in advance at the center or by calling 307-382-3223. Senior High Tech is made possible by the Microsoft TechSpark program and AARP.
Additional presentations are planned; it’s just a matter of getting the lab set up. For example, representatives from the Castle Rock Medical Center, Trona Valley Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo plan to visit the center to work with seniors to teach them how to access and navigate their accounts and websites.
Separate from the scheduled informational sessions, Miller said it’s helpful to have quick access to tech support at Golden Hour. She said there she can immediately ask for help, compared to being alone at home where “I’m pulling my hair out.”
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
The center continues to listen to seniors to identify and meet needs, according to Kreis. After upgrading the conference room, the computer lab is the next big project. She said Golden Hour is lucky to enjoy local support and the benefits of the county-owned building. Most of its funding comes from grants, and extras like the computer lab often require outside funding.
“The only way we can do it is with the support of the community,” she said.
Margene Chew, a Golden Hour Senior Center board member, said she is really impressed by community support – both from businesses and individuals. She noted that more than 100 people turned out for A Night of a Thousand Lights, which gave a boost to the project.
“I am so excited. I think it’s long overdue and will be a tremendous asset for seniors in our community,” she said.
Local business are also hosting a raffle to win over $1,500 in prizes, such as a 55-inch TV, HP laptop, Escape Day Spa & Boutique gift card, Pineda’s Karate passes, and two framed photos by A Time to Breathe Photography. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at the Rock Springs or Green River chambers of commerce. The drawing will take place Oct. 11.
Kreis said the effort has been led by Ron Wild from Rocky Mountain Power, who found other willing businesses.
People interested in contributing to the fund or hosting information sessions once the new computer lab is in place can contact Kreis at the center at 307-872-3223 or email@example.com.
“Any time we can bring more value to our seniors, that’s what we’re aiming for,” she said.