Theron Kuntz is a superstar volunteer. For the last two months, he has spent five days a week turning the computer lab at Sala Burton Manor (a senior housing complex in the Tenderloin) into a welcoming, comfortable place for residents to learn basic computer skills.
“Many users tell me they have a computer in their room, but they don’t know how to use it, so they come here to learn,” he says.
Theron posted flyers to educate residents about the lab, set up a desk next to the computers with containers of pens and candy for the building’s residents, and even brought in a broom to keep the area clean and rags to keep the computer screens and keyboards fingerprint-free. Because many residents don’t even know where to begin on a computer, he printed out lists of things that they can learn to guide them.
He even broke up each area into different computer learning levels so that users can progress through the levels like a structured class. For example, “Computer Level 1” includes typing and how to use a mouse, and “Computer Level 2” includes how to start the computer, use the program pane, and understand the desktop. “Internet Level 1” includes using Internet browsers and how to search the Internet, and “Internet Level 2” includes using email and password and account security.
Theron, who is studying computers at City College, started volunteering with CTN because he wanted to share his knowledge. He has helped users with everything from learning basic mouse skills to formatting resumes and searching and applying for jobs online. He uses YouTube videos to help better explain certain topics to users and shows them fun games that help them to become comfortable with using a mouse.
Even though he isn’t bilingual, Theron enjoys working with seniors who speak limited English. “I think it’s a great experience,” he says. “I can listen to them closely in here. Many of them have offered other ways to explain what they’re saying, so I’ve learned to connect with them despite language barriers. That, to me, is an accomplishment: to be able to work with people who have challenges with eyesight or hearing, or who don’t have ESL training, and to be able to make it work for them.”