He was stationed in Papua, New Guinea near the Coral Sea, the site of many epic battles in 1942, and John Hubert, 97, has been able to share his stories in a powerful way, thanks to tech prowess he’s gained by taking computer classes offered by San Antonio Oasis and the City of San Antonio.
“Mr. Hubert proudly wears his WWII cap to the ‘Intro to Computers’ classes he takes through our Connections program,” says Brenda Schmachtenberger, executive director of San Antonio Oasis. “Like many of the countless other older adults who take these technology classes, he’s using his skills to do everyday things like paying bills online and he’s also making a difference by serving others in the community.”
One of the skills that Hubert learned through Oasis Connections classes was how to use Google Earth software, which allowed him to give his classmates and instructor a virtual tour of exactly where he was stationed so many years ago.
“Older adults across the country who grew up in the age before the internet are improving their confidence in using technology through Oasis Connections digital literacy classes designed just for them,” says Amy VanDeVelde, Technology Education Manager at The Oasis Institute, a national education organization that promotes healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement. “Many older adults perceive technology as a barrier, but by taking our classes, we know that technology can be a powerful tool to fight social isolation and allow continued independence and engagement.”
To date, over 120,000 older adults in 120 locations across the country have enrolled in Connections classes, which cover a variety of topics, including instruction on personal computers and the internet, Facebook, tablets and smartphones. The curriculum is updated regularly and available in Spanish.
Veterans across the Oasis network making an impact through Oasis
Hubert is not the only U.S. veteran making important connections through Oasis programs.
Volunteer Connections instructor Eddie Dextraze shares a similar story about a “wow” moment that took place in one of his Oasis classes at the Broward County Library in Hollywood, Florida.
“I looked up and noticed this man in the class who seemed overcome with emotion,” he recalls. “Naturally, I went over to see if I could help and then discovered what he was doing. He was a veteran of World War II and had been a prisoner of war in Germany. All that time, he’d never been back to that town and here he was, thanks to learning this new technology, able to stand right in front of the place he’d been imprisoned, right there on the street at the front door. Everyone in the class was moved as he shared the moment with us. It was really something.”
A U.S. Navy veteran, Dale “Woody” Woodard was presented the Missouri Veterans Service Award for ten years of service as an Oasis Intergenerational tutor in 2016. He was one of 34 Missouri veterans to receive the award that year for exemplary service to their communities. He is still tutoring in the Pattonville School District in suburban St. Louis County.
“Through tutoring, the kids gain self-confidence, and I feel good knowing that I played a part in that,” says Woodard. “Tutoring helps build their self-esteem, and it leads to success in school and other personal situations. Several parents have told me that their children are now more integrated.”