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Class aids seniors to become computer savvy

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Click to enlarge,  Hannah Hunsinger, The Sanford Herald, Freddie Bland (front) and Erlaine Harris, both of Sanford, practice their typing skills in the Wisdom Meets Technology computer class at W.B. Wicker School.

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Hannah Hunsinger, The Sanford Herald, Freddie Bland (front) and Erlaine Harris, both of Sanford, practice ... (more)

Click to enlarge,  Hannah Hunsinger, The Sanford Herald, Students in Wisdom Meets Technology, like Eugenia Foxx, learn about the parts of the computer, typing and using the Internet.

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Hannah Hunsinger, The Sanford Herald, Students in Wisdom Meets Technology, like Eugenia Foxx, learn ... (more)

05.16.2016College & CommunityCollege General

By Hannah Hunsinger, The Sanford Herald

SANFORD - Keeping up with technology may seem like a young person's game, but there are a few Sanford citizens who aren't going to let the Internet age leave them behind.

Corliss Udoema, founder of Agape Love in Action Inc., recently introduced an initiative that provides "technology training classes specifically designed for senior citizens with limited or no computer experience," according to the ALIA website.

"We had (a computer class) at our church, but there were so many people taking it, I couldn't get into the class," said Erlaine Harris of Sanford. "One day I was talking to Miss Corliss and I mentioned it to her how I would like to be in a typing class and she was nice enough to set this up for us."

ALIA partnered with Central Carolina Community College to create Wisdom Meet Technology. The class runs for eight weeks, and is held every Monday at the W.B. Wicker Learning Center and taught by CCCC Human Resource Development Instructor Torri Hopkins.

"We start off with the basics," Hopkins said. "The parts of the computer and the correct names -- monitor, hard drive, tower -- and then we go onto Internet use ... how to surf the Internet, what's a web address, what's an email address, searching versus going directly to a website and Internet safety."

Hopkins said they also learn about Microsoft Word, how to fill out online applications, pay bills and access things like Social Security information.

"Anything pertaining to life that may benefit our seniors -- we go over that," she said.

Hopkins said the hardest thing about teaching the eight seniors enrolled in the first session of the class, the oldest of whom is 89, is helping them get over their apprehension.

"I tell them they can't break it. Just take a deep breath, it's a machine, it's going to do what you tell it to do," Hopkins said, "If you put in a website on the Internet it's going to go there, if you put it in wrong, eh, you might have to back track and do it again. There's no rush, just be patient and don't get frustrated. Because even people who are computer literate get frustrated with the computers sometimes."

So far students are pleased with the skills they are learning and especially with Hopkins' teaching.

"Most of the time I think people don't have the time or the patience (to teach seniors)," Harris said, "Torri has been a dynamite teacher because she has the time and the patience. I'm 74, sometimes its kind of hard to pick up on things, but with her teaching us I think we've done really good."

Harris, who hadn't typed since her school days, wanted to refresh her typing skills and learn how to pay bills online, but she was most excited to find her church's website.

"It's really fantastic. You can go there and hear the service and all that. I'm tickled."

As the class moves forward, Udoema hopes to create a "computer buddy" system that partners more experienced students with new students to offer help and keep their skills fresh.

The class fee is based on income, but Hopkins said that most seniors qualify to take it for free. The next session beings Monday and seniors interested can register by visiting the Continuing Education Office in the W.B. Wicker Center at 900 S. Vance St., or going directly to Room 118 to see Hopkins.