The Fairhaven Council on Aging is looking to increase its technology support for older adults thanks to a new grant it recently received.
The COA was one of 24 COAs representing 65 Massachusetts municipalities who were awarded Enhancing Digital Literacy for Older Adults grants recently, according to the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative.
“I am excited that the Fairhaven COA has been awarded these funds and look forward to helping seniors in our community gain confidence in utilizing technology to enhance their lives,” said Martha Reed, Fairhaven COA director, via email. “I am especially looking forward to the collaboration and interaction of different generations sharing ideas and learning from each other.”
The Fairhaven COA will use its $16,868 award to purchase new laptops for its computer class which instructor Kraig Perry teaches at the senior center from September to June, as well as add a large touchscreen monitor that will allow participants a more “hands-on” experience and aid those with vision issues. It also plans to acquire two loaner iPads equipped with wifi and cellular service for seniors in the community to borrow for telehealth appointments, including physical therapy/mental health/doctor’s, etc., or to allow them to remain connected with loved ones if they are isolated from the community.
“We will also be working with high school and college students to offer a weekly Tech Café for seniors to drop in with tech support questions/needs for either their laptops or especially their smartphones,” Reed said.
Grants were awarded through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs and funded by the American Rescue Plan Act Home and Community-Based Services. The $1.5 million grant program is designed to assist COAs in purchasing devices, software, or broadband for older adults; and/or providing training and support for older adults to enhance their digital literacy.
Awardees include distinctive approaches to digital literacy training and support, such as partnership models (with schools, libraries, and technology training vendors) and various types of engagement (peer support, intergenerational support, one-on-one in-home assistance, group classes). They span almost all counties, many represent rural communities and Gateway Cities. Some of the awardees plan to offer curriculum and support in languages other than English, including Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Spanish.
In addition to Fairhaven, grants were awarded to the following towns, some of whom have partner COAs in surrounding communities: Athol, North Andover, Barnstable, Franklin, North Attleboro, Berlin, Georgetown, Norton, Bernardston, Greenfield, Oak Bluffs, Burlington, Holyoke, Pittsfield, Chelsea, Medford, Salem, Chesterfield, Montague, Sudbury, Deerfield, Norfolk, and Ware.
The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is a network of community, health and wellness, government, advocacy, research, business, education, and philanthropy leaders who come together to advance healthy aging. In its announcement, the collaborative said it is looking forward to working with and supporting the awardees.