Mundelein students find new way to help seniors: Help them work smartphones
Had she known sooner, Lucy Frett could have saved time and money dealing with her iPhone 7.
But by the time her session with Delaney Brown, an eighth-grader at Fremont Middle School was done Thursday, Frett had learned how to save storage space and hopefully future cloud fees.
"There have been five things she helped with already," said Frett, a resident at the Grand Dominion by Del Webb active adult community in Mundelein. "We just got rid of an app I didn't need. That saves space."
Delaney and 12 other members of Fremont's Junior Honor Society brought youthful energy and expertise to a group of 20 Grand Dominion residents who had signed up for help with their mobile devices.
Because there were only so many students, four walk-ups were turned away. A dozen residents already are signed up for a future session.
"This is a very vibrant community. They want to learn," said Julie McFarlin, Grand Dominion's lifestyle director.
The students earned honor society service hours and the seniors received advice and assistance with fairly basic but sometimes vexing issues involving mobile devices they may have received as gifts or just wanted to know better.
"It was an opportunity to help others in the community," Delaney said.
Looking to expand its community engagement, Margaret Van Duch from Fremont District 79 contacted McFarlin, who by chance had noticed a resident's apparent frustration with her new phone.
"I said, 'You know, those kids are so smart.' My wheels started turning," McFarlin said.
It took a while to arrange, but the connection Thursday was the first in what both parties hope is a continuing relationship.
"Rather than come over and volunteer with traditional services, this idea came up," Van Duch said.
Not that the residents are mobile device babes in the woods, but many had questions focused on practical matters, such as how to minimize annoying pop-up ads.
Sid Clark, 74, brought his iPad to learn the ins and outs of Twitter and other tips.
"If you're going to have grandkids, you better know how to Twitter," he said.
Another resident was having trouble using her new phone. Fremont eighth-grader Elle Mishler helped her access email and other tasks.
"I showed her how to search in Google, how to buy books and stuff like that," Elle said. "I know how to work an iPhone and wanted to help someone."
Lou and Neil Moore, who have been married 65 years, learned a few things about their new phone.
"Really knowledgeable," Neil Moore said of their young helpers. "They were interested, clean cut, nice kids."
Clark said he is savvy with Microsoft applications but a neophyte in other areas.
"For senior citizens, it's always good to go to a younger person who's up to date on this stuff," he said. "Be brave -- ask a young student."