Jeanie Rubio’s cellphone died unexpectedly. “I’m a minimalist when it comes to technology,” said the longtime Harpswell resident. “I keep it at bay.” However, Rubio worried about what would happen if her 10-year-old iPad died.
Rubio reached out to Gayle Hays, with Harpswell Aging at Home. Hays, in turn, connected her with Alvin Stearns, a volunteer with HAH’s Technology Assistance program. Stearns, who works full time in the legal field, helps older residents navigate the mysteries of technology and devices. He takes a simple approach to put clients at ease. “I tell people, ‘Don’t be afraid of it. It’s a tool. What do you want to do with it?'”
For those new to technology, Stearns asks about their interests and needs. What kind of device are they interested in using? What would they like to access? FaceTime, email, social media, other applications? He helps them understand how technology can benefit them to the extent they are comfortable.
For others it may be working to bring an old device back to life. Stearns will work to make sure the operating and security systems are up to date, ensuring the client receives the optimal level of protection, and will talk with them about how to avoid phishing scams and questionable links. Furthermore, he stresses the need to write down their passwords and leave them in a secure location for later reference if needed.
He also helps retrieve photos and old files and, when necessary, transfer them to a new device. Depending on the wishes of the client, Stearns will set up their homepage with tabs that take them to their favorite sites and will try to make the use of technology an enjoyable and stress-free experience.
Stearns worked with Rubio to set up her new phone, which Rubio said took a couple of hours. “The people at the phone store kind of scoffed and said, ‘Turn it on and follow the prompts,'” said Rubio. “It wasn’t always that simple. Alvin was professional and patient. He spoke in English, not in tech terms. He’s relaxed, so you’re relaxed. Tech is not fun for me, but Alvin almost made it fun!”
Whether working with a minimalist or someone needing tech support in a variety of ways, the Technology Assistance team starts off with one question: “What do you need?”
Older Harpswell residents who have questions or would like to take advantage of the free Technology Assistance program may contact Hays at 207-522-8841 or email@example.com.