Stories From the Lab: The Fantastic Four Learn and Laugh Together


The Fantastic Four of St. Johns

The Fantastic Four of St. Johns

Austin Free-Net’s computer lab at St. John’s Neighborhood Center has become quite a lively place recently. The fun-filled atmosphere comes largely from the addition of four fantastic new students. Each day these four dedicated ladies spend their mornings emailing each other from their brand new email accounts and “mousing around” with our Mousercise learning game.

Our Volunteer Coordinator Meg Kee took some time to get to know these ladies, and here’s what she discovered about Fayetta, Leslie, Shirley and Mary.

These fantastic four all had some computer experience, but as Fayetta (a former Executive Secretary for 29 years) explained, “Computers now are so different from the big box I had.” Last Christmas her son gave her a laptop, and she wants to learn more about it. Recently she purchased a mouse for the laptop, so she loved learning how to use it while having fun with our mouse fundamentals class.

Leslie, too, loves learning new things on the computer. She enjoys keeping in touch with her friends and searching for things online. She has especially enjoyed learning how to “drag and drop” and hopes to learn how to shop and bank online.

Shirley admitted that while she had used a computer before, there was a lot that she didn’t understand, and she was afraid she would break it. After being part of the Austin Free-Net classes, she now feels more confident, and she’s excited to learn new things. One of the things she’s most looking forward to learning is how to upload and share the pictures from her digital camera. She can’t wait to email them to her family and friends.

Mary, the fourth member of our fantastic four, took a few computer lessons a decade ago, but she knows that things have changed a lot since then. She wants to learn how to use computers better so that she can stay in touch with family and friends online. Being able to set up an email account and learning how to navigate around the Internet have delighted her.

The classes we provide for our elderly clients are usually full of surprises and laughs, but there’s a serious side to them too. While these four friends are having fun and connecting with family and friends, they are also forming a strong foundation of computer literacy. If there ever comes a time when these vivacious ladies are less mobile, they will be able to rely upon the Internet for daily tasks that may prove difficult – all while maintaining their independence. Additionally, communicating with family and friends using the Internet helps to overcome the feelings of isolation and loneliness that plague many elderly people.

Austin Free Net offers free computer classes to the general public at five of Austin’s neighborhood centers, as well as eight other sites around town. Adults of all ages are welcome to attend, and we’re always looking for great volunteer tutors of all ages, too. If you enjoyed reading about our fantastic four, please check out our volunteer page. You might be surprised at how fun learning and teaching can be.