Home News Local news Not For Profit: Computer Class at St. Ursula

Not For Profit: Computer Class at St. Ursula


March 9, 2008 — The computers are practically dinosaurs, with huge yellowing beige monitors, but they're hooked up to state-of-the-art WiFi. And despite the age of the computers, St. John seniors and others are learning the ropes of exploring the Internet at St. Ursula's Senior Center's computer class.
"I enjoy doing it," Icilma Peters, who would only give her age as mid-60s, said as she showed off her prowess at the computer.
Peters, a semi-retired custodial worker, said she likes to email and is even checking airline tickets for her granddaughter in New York.
John Gagiotti, 69 and retired from the restaurant business, plans to take the classes too. "That's the newest thing going on," he said.
Celia Kalousek, who runs the program at St. Ursula's, said classes run from 10 a.m. to noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursday.
The free classes are open to anyone, but Kalousek asked that people call a day ahead if they plan to attend. She said people don't have to commit to coming certain days of the week for a designated period of time. Instead, they can come when it suits them.
However, she hopes to sort the students out by skill, with the beginners coming Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and those with more advanced skills coming Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The beginners classes start out with the absolute basics: how to turn on the computer, learning the difference between hardware and software, how to use the mouse and the keyboard, and how to open, save and close a document.
"I start out by showing them how to play solitaire," Kalousek said.
More advance students learn skills like how shop online, arrange travel plans and use spreadsheets.
Kalousek said that she'll also organize classes on specific topics like downloading photos from a camera if there is demand.
"It all depends on how far you want to go and how many times you come to class," she said.
She also helps people get over their fear of using the computer because they think they'll somehow damage it. "I say you can't mess this up unless you pick up the computer and throw it on the ground," she said.
She said that 80 people, mainly seniors, have learned how to use the computer since classes began in 2004.
The computer room currently has nine computers, all of them past their prime.
Kalousek said the program always needs more equipment, but old outdated computers aren't much help. She said that donations of newer, more up-to-date equipment would be very nice.
The program is funded by the Human Services Department. Kalousek said she worked for several years as a volunteer, but now gets paid.
She hopes that those who learn computing skills at the program will volunteer to help others.
While the seniors who participate in St. Ursula's Senior Center programs may access the computers to check their email and surf the web, Kalousek said other residents may do the same if they volunteer some time to help others learn computing skills.
To sign up for computer classes, call 693-8580.
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