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Tech Buddies

Russ Goerend and Megan Wadsworth help Phyllis Watson learn how to better use her laptop.

As today’s world rapidly becomes more and more technologically advanced, it can get overwhelming for anyone to keep up, especially the elderly. This last January, a program by the name of Tech Buddies started up in the Waukee School District. Tech Buddies is a volunteer program in which teens go and teach local seniors about everyday technology and the vast world of the internet, with most students coming from clubs such as Hyperstream.

“Seniors are a very large population of people that are often forgotten about. It’s important for them to know how to use technology,” explained project coordinator, senior Justin Sindelar. “It’s important for them to know how to use technology, whether it’s to stay in touch with their loved ones or play FarmVille,” Sindelar continued.

Although some seniors were timid toward the technology, Tech Buddies opened up their curiosity by easing into the learning. Once the intimidation settled down, interest among the seniors sparked. The seniors became eager to learn, asking plenty of questions, always wanting to know more, and taking notes on even the smallest details taught to them. “[Technology] definitely improved information,” said one of the seniors, Phyllis Watson. She continued to explain  her fascination, “I can go on the internet and search for just about anything.”

Jessica Durbala and Judy Juhler listen attentively as Justin Sindelar speaks to the group.

Although Judy Juhler has had minimal knowledge coming into the class, the volunteers have have helped her more than she could have hoped for. “I’ve only been at it for ten years … and I’m still trying to learn,” stated senior citizen, Judy Juhler. This type of learning is what Tech Buddies hopes to provide for senior citizens.

Many volunteers agree that the main objective of the group is to help seniors better communicate using technology, while also knowing how to stay safe. “[They] can be really fearful about the internet and are quite worried about getting their information stolen or getting their technology hacked,” explained senior Holden Sinnard. “A lot of what we do is try to inform them about what is safe on the internet and to familiarize themselves, so that they can be more connected with the world,” he continued. “It creates a way for them to have a better relationship with their children and grandchildren,” added senior Zoie Green.

Tech Buddies is not a program exclusive to Waukee, as  many other schools in the Des Moines area have started their own versions. At Waukee, the program is run through Hyperstream. If anyone is  interested in volunteering, they could get in contact with Hyperstream’s Michelle Hill ([email protected]) or the Tech Buddies  director, Justin Sindelar ([email protected]).

View Pictures from a Recent Tech Buddies Meeting Below


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