Editor's Note: Antoinette Johnson is a Casa Santa Marta resident who helps inform senior residents of important information about Sarasota. She also helps coordinate the Casa Santa Marta newsletter and serves on several senior advisory boards and committees for Sarasota County.
"I, too, was completely thrilled at the program's success. I look forward to what may come! Cheri, thank you for your dedication." — Michele Lubrano, Casa Santa Marta Services CoordinatorAs I entered the community room at Casa Santa Marta senior housing, Cheri Coryea of The Patterson Foundation (TPF) stepped forward to greet me with warmth and confident enthusiasm. Over the last several weeks, residents, including myself, had signed up to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and engage with the Digital access for All (DA4A) initiative in an enrollment event that afternoon. We were all quite excited.
The DA4A team, Digital Navigators, and Lead Technical Support were already assembled and eager to begin. Michele Lubrano, CSM Service Coordinator, and Sue Berger, Sarasota County's Aging System Policy Coordinator, both present from the beginning and throughout this process, supported and cheered us on! There was this amazing sense of community, ready to be fully engaged and unified in purpose. Clearly, something quite wonderful was about to take place!
Kiarra was next to greet me -- providing thoughtful input concerning my technology needs and assessing my information. I felt fully supported by her calm, professional manner in guiding me toward the next phase of today's technology journey. What a joy it was meeting Maribel Martinez, my Digital Navigator. Our conversation flowed easily as she skillfully worked to finalize my application process. Lauren Turner also stopped to chat with us briefly as she circled the room, offering assistance when needed. While Maribel was busy on the phone with my service provider, my attention again became focused on the activity around me. More residents arrived to take part in the application process. The atmosphere was vibrant and alive with language and connectivity! Conversations drifted throughout the space, reflecting the ease of camaraderie. Digital Navigators offered their patient assistance; some conversed seamlessly in English or Spanish. At the station next to me, Jake Strawn (our lead tech support) listened attentively while addressing the technical concerns of one of my neighbors.
The bell chimed once again, signaling the success of another applicant's approval! Moving toward Lauren and the exit process, my thoughts lingered on the different kinds of connectivity that we had shared throughout that day's journey:
- Our needs as aging seniors to form meaningful connections
- How our capacity to thrive and maintain those connections directly intertwines with having the ability to obtain and successfully navigate modern technology.
Throughout the event, the talents and combined efforts of many truly awesome individuals who presented themselves selflessly made me so glad to have had this opportunity. On behalf of myself and many others, I thank all of you for a thoughtfully planned and beautifully orchestrated event.
See Our Numbers: (24) Residents Scheduled, (23) Residents kept their appointment, (7) Residents approved for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), (2) Residents Pending, (5) Residents Received Tech Assistance.
DA4A's special thanks to Michele Lubrano for assisting with the registration of our guests and serving as the main contact; Casa Marta maintenance staff for the room set up; Antionette Johnson for helping to spread the word among residents and providing valuable feedback to us on what the group needed; Sue Berger for making the initial connection with Michele, for the additional resource materials, and time spent with us that day; Jake Strawn for being our Tech Support Lead for the day; Sandra Beltran for stopping by to learn more about the ACP program and how it can be a resource to your literacy clients; Shantel Escobar for your Digital Navigator expertise and working with patience and grace; Pavel Terreros-Reyes for assisting those who spoke Spanish using your Digital Navigator skills; Neirda Thompson-Pemberton for stopping by to assist when we needed extra Digital Navigator help; and the Full DA4A team for your support and expertise in planning, supporting, and executing our first enrollment event.