Our Answer to the Digital Divide

March 2021

Three participants of our first Virtual Services for Older Adults cohort, along with some of the team who make the program possible.

We just passed a significant calendar milestone: one year of sheltering in place. While this has been a psychologically and emotionally taxing time for all of us, take a moment to think about how you would have fared this past year without the benefit of virtual connectivity to family, friends, medical services, banking and having basic needs delivered, like food and household essentials. No Zoom, No Facebook. No Amazon. No ability to connect with loved ones and essential services other than a telephone.

Social isolation was already one of the biggest challenges facing our older adult population. COVID-19 and the Digital Divide -- the gap between those able to benefit from the digital age and those who are not -- exacerbated this problem significantly, leaving many members of our community virtually shut out from the rest of society.

Worse, many of our seniors live on fixed incomes, struggle to make ends meet financially, and cannot afford the technology required to keep them engaged socially and connected to critical social services that ensure their basic needs are met.

Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), a subsidiary of Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, in partnership with Ashbury Senior Community Computer Center (ASC3), and DigitalC, is proud to announce a new collaborative program: Virtual Services for Older Adults.

The collaboration between these three Cleveland non-profits is designed to eliminate the Digital Divide in our community.

Left to Right: Mike Billnitzer of ESOP, Wanda Davis of ASC3, and Susan Porter of DigitalC. Not pictured: All of the incredible staff members from each organization who are contributing to the success of Virtual Services for Older Adults.

Thanks to the generous funding support from Huntington Bank and your ongoing support of our work, Virtual Services for Older Adults addresses all of these issues by providing:

An integral part of this design will include measuring the impact this program has on reducing social isolation.

The first class of Virtual Services for Older Adults launched on March 10.

Adults 55 and over interested in enrolling in our second class beginning April 28 should contact Antoinette Smith (216) 373-1850 or Tiffany Taylor (216) 373-1849 at ESOP.