Oct. 6, 2004 – A new computer room in a church-based community center is catching on with senior citizens and drawing in groups from across the St. Thomas-St. John district. Both the pastor of St. Ursula's Anglican Church and the director of St. Ursula's Multipurpose Center say they are pleased with the community response.
The computer room is situated in a specially built room at the back of the multipurpose center. Church pastor, Fr. Hugh Chapman said the idea of creating a technology center came after the room was built. Donations of material and expertise followed. Support came from several sources, including Dave Rivers of the group, One Church, One People; the St. John Safety Zone and the V. I. Delegate to Congress.
By July the center was up and running. A formal dedication celebrated that accomplishment in August. By then, the curious began to peek though the doors of the technology center. At the end of September, Clarence Scipio, center director, said about 10 seniors were stopping in regularly.
"They learn quickly. At first they said they can't type but we tell them 'don't worry,'" he said. Before long the more adventurous seniors were bringing in their friends, Scipio added.
Fr. Chapman and the director also managed to recruit a handful of instructors, including Loren Abramson, a legislative aide. As a member of a close-knit family tied to the local school system, Abramson counted her St. Ursula's experience as her first time trying her hand at teaching.
That gave her something in common with her students, because, she said, the computer class was also a first for them. Students and teacher, she said, have had some fun.
"The ladies in my class aren't quite seniors yet. They weren't familiar with the computer. It's a beginning class but they're eager to learn," she said.
They began with the basics, how to properly turn the machine on and off. Gradually they made their way through changing the screen savers and got their introduction to the Internet. In the next few days, Abramson said she planned to take her students shopping online.
"They're definitely looking forward to that," she said.
Sedonie Halbert, Human Service Commissioner, said she too is looking forward to seeing the class in action. Her agency is tied to the multi-purpose center through its daily hot meal program for seniors and its Meals on Wheels service to St. John's homebound. The agency helped provide some of the resources that went into the computer room and the commissioner said she had a chance to see the room when it was first being put together.
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