VOLTS - Volunteer Tech Support

VOLTS endeavors to be a nonprofit organization that helps to bridge the technological gap between the older and younger generations.

Photo of VOLTS Volunteer Tech Support
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Technology

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

August 31, 2003

Help us stay in touch!

607-427-6693 27 Stratford Place NY: Binghamton (13905)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

voltsgold.com @voltsgold (Instagram) @volts (facebook)

Date You Started Your Project Started

8/15/19

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The technological gap between the older generation and youth (Gen Z) is growing, especially regarding smartphone use. While more Seniors are transitioning from flip phones to smartphones, grasping the functionality and multitude of uses presents a challenge. In addition, societal interactions are increasingly becoming more reliant on electronic media platforms. By not being actively engaged, Seniors are being left out of the conversation.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

My mission is to create VOLTS - Volunteer Tech Support for Seniors. VOLTS will be a nationwide, volunteer network dedicated to helping Seniors resolve smartphone issues one-on-one. Volunteers will be certified on the VOLTS website. The website will also list workshop locations where Seniors can find help as well as featured Youtube videos that explain basic smartphone usage in simple and clear terms. For example, there will be a video on how to hold a smartphone so that you don't turn down the volume when you talk. (This is a common problem with my own grandfather.) Workshops for Seniors will start off being held at public libraries and Senior Centers. I hope to expand this network by creating a "workshop in a box" - a place on my website where youth anywhere around the world can find the resources to easily and quickly host a workshop where they live. As a Girl Scout, I hope to create a patch program to encourage other Scouts to hold workshops as well. By creating a tech-savvy older generation, I am working to better include Seniors in society with the additional benefits of combating loneliness and retaining independence through smartphone usage.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I was inspired to start this journey by after seeing how much my own grandparents struggle with their smartphones. My grandmother lives with me so I am able to assist her in person. However, my grandfather lives alone in Toronto. He calls almost daily with questions about his iPhone which are hard to fix without showing him the solution in person. When he texts, it's always sent with balloons. Visits are filled with questions such as how do you forward a text message, or turn the volume up, or access photos from an app. Fortunately, he lives near an Apple store so he can get his questions answered. There are millions of Seniors that do not have family close by to assist. These Seniors may have mobility issues and/or may not live near a mobile phone or Apple store that can provide free assistance. Finding someone to ask for help is huge challenge for Seniors.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

VOLTS is just coming out of the idea stage. Different groups, such as libraries and Girls Scouts, can get involved. For example, the first workshop was set up with the Vestal Public library in New York. The staff helped promote the workshop to Seniors. I promoted the idea to fellow Girl Scouts who volunteered for the workshop. At the first workshop, 8 seniors attended and 3 Girl Scouts volunteered. Over the course of the hour, several tech support issues were solved one-on-one. In addition, Seniors were able to socialize and engage with one another, another added benefit. The Seniors left the workshop feeling relieved and empowered and asking for additional workshop dates. They commented about how there was a technological gap and that this workshop easily filled the gap. (Pictures of happy Seniors were included above.) Future workshops have been scheduled for the Autumn.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Currently, few tech support services that cater to Seniors. For example, Teeniors in Arizona, Happy Grandma tech services, and Geek Squad, are all fee-based services. In addition, few videos on Youtube address issues that face Seniors. TechBoomers explains some concepts but they are mainly related to social media apps. VOLTS aims to have a national network of volunteers that provide free in-person help so that Seniors around the country (and hopefully the world) can find volunteers at libraries, hospitals, grocercy stores etc. VOLTS videos will also be simple and senior-friendly.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Since I am just starting with VOLTS, only one workshop has been held so far. I've helped 8 Seniors so far and engaged 3 volunteers. As time goes on, I hope to expand this number exponentially. I will measure the impact according to Youtube views, the number of workshops held and attendance.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

I hope to find corporate partners willing to work with VOLTS. For example, if a major pharmacy or grocery chain can partner with VOLTS, then Seniors would be able to find a VOLTS volunteer at places that they frequent. I would like to advertise this idea nationally as well to attract volunteers to participate and host their own workshops across the country and the globe. Working with Girl Scouts will also help with national engagement. In addition, I hope to create an app for Seniors to help them find solutions quickly. Lastly, I would like to establish a National Senior Tech Support day.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Web/Mobile Development


10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Family support

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)
  • Other

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Girl Scouts

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Photo of Sarah Loughran
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Wonderful project, Kynzee! Like many others, I’ve spent countless hours on the phone trying to help my senior mother with tech issues. I find the lack of senior-friendly devices/tech support really surprising, given the need. We will all be seniors someday! Good luck!

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