Robin and Sharon – Digital Inclusion Graduates

Robin and Sharon are sisters graduating from Vantage Aging’s Senior Community Service Employment Program. Funded by the Department of Labor and Ohio Department of Aging, SCSEP provides paid, hands-on training to job seekers age 55 and older who are trying to re-enter the workforce. By empowering older adults with the skills and confidence they need to reach their career goals, the program contributes to healthier local economies and more independent, self-sufficient community members across the state.

While participating in SCSEP, Robin and Sharon had the opportunity to grow their digital skills in Vantage’s Digital Inclusion program. The initiative aims to improve digital access and computer competencies of older Ohioans through access to digital devices and personalized, one-on-one coaching sessions from trained digital navigators in partnership with the Ohio Department of Aging.

See how sisters Robin and Sharon gained the digital skills and access to computers they needed to start their next chapters.

Meet Robin and Sharon

Where are you from?

Robin: Lucasville, Ohio.

Sharon: Chillicothe, Ohio.

What do you like to do for fun?

Robin: I like gardening and working in my yard.

Sharon: I also enjoy gardening and going on drives.

What made you decide to apply for SCSEP?

Robin: I enrolled in Vantage’s SCSEP program first. I was a volunteer at a food pantry when a supervisor invited me to apply for the program. I was not able to find employment at the time because of physical limitations, so this was a good way to get back into the community and grow my skills. I love meeting new people and helping them at the pantry. Vantage provided me with an opportunity to contribute while accommodating my needs.

Sharon: I had not worked long before the pandemic. I enrolled in SCSEP after seeing how well my sister was doing in the program and how much she was enjoying it.  

What did you think when you were asked to try the Digital Inclusion program through SCSEP?

Robin: At first, I said no because I didn’t think I could learn computer skills. But I eventually said yes and I’m glad that I did.

Sharon: I decided to try Digital Inclusion after my sister agreed. I ended up starting the program first because Robin did not have access to internet services where she lives. I began the program while Vantage worked to solve that issue for Robin.

Sharon, did you also face some challenges when you started Digital Inclusion?

Sharon: I had a sore developing on my hand. It turned out that I had to have several fingers amputated on my dominant right hand. I had to learn to use a mouse with fingers that weren’t used to those kinds of movements. It was hard at first, but I got pretty good at it. I’m surviving and getting better every day.

How much access to digital tools and skills did you have before the Digital Inclusion program?

Robin: I’ve never owned a laptop or had home internet. In fact, I’ve never used a laptop and had limited computer skills. I did not graduate high school and the last grade I attended was the ninth grade.

Sharon: I did not have a laptop, but I did have home internet. Once and a while, I played games on an old computer but didn’t know anything beyond that. I also finished attending school in the eighth grade and did not graduate high school.

How did it feel to receive a laptop from Vantage Aging?

Robin: I was excited and very proud of myself for deciding to start this program.

Sharon: I was excited and watching the mail for it to come. I didn’t know if I could do this program totally on the computer without meeting anyone in person, but I did it and was very proud of myself.

How did you feel about having a Digital Navigator and working one on one?

Robin: My Digital Navigator guides me through the lessons. I wouldn’t have gotten through the program if it weren’t for her. She is a teacher, coach, and friend.

Sharon: I loved having a Digital Navigator. I can call her for help, and she guides me through decision-making. I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate in a group or classroom setting.

What was your favorite Digital Inclusion module?

Robin: I zoomed through PowerPoint and I’m really proud of myself. I stayed at it and kept practicing. I realized that I could keep learning and going with my digital skills.

Sharon: I enjoyed it all. I loved learning all the computer tricks and knowing where things are. I’m learning more and more each day.

How did it feel when you knew you were graduating from the program?

Robin: I was overwhelmed because I didn’t think I could do it, but so proud of myself.

Sharon: I was so excited. I’m proud of my sister and myself.

What do you want to do with your new digital skills?

Robin: I would like to get a job at the Dollar Tree. I’m confident now that I can use a modern cash register. Vantage’s Digital Inclusion program has helped me get closer to achieving my goals.

What would you say to other older adults who are scared to try learning computer skills?

Sharon: Go for it. If I can do it, you can do it. Once you get into it, it’s fun and you’ll be proud of yourself.

What would you tell the program’s funders about continuing Digital resources for older adults?

Robin: People are learning skills that they don’t have but need.

Sharon: People need you and they need this program. It has helped build so much self-confidence.

 Interested in participating in Vantage’s SCSEP program to receive paid, hands-on training? Apply today!

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