Mary has dedicated herself to preserving her family tree, creating her own Family Book. Like many Black families, Mary is only able to look back four generations to her great-great-grandparents, Henry and Isabella, who were the first generation of her family to live in the United States in freedom. Her grandparents, Henry and Ester, moved to Rochester from Texas as young adults. In 2017, Mary suffered a stroke, putting her project in jeopardy as she works through memory loss.
When Mary asked the staff at Newark Public Library about resources to learn to use a computer, she was referred to Literacy Rochester’s Digital Literacy program. Over a dozen hours of assistance, volunteers Barbara and Clyde have helped her learn to use Microsoft Office, email, and how to use scanners so she can preserve her family photos, digitizing and recovering more than 200 images for Mary to pass on to the next generation of family researchers. Through typing the many names, Mary is recovering her memory and fine motor skills.
Mary expected to sit in a computer class with other students and follow a standard curriculum; the one-on-one assistance and welcoming environment at the library has helped her learn quickly and tailor the skills to her specific goals. A long-time resident of Newark, finding a place near home makes it easy to commit and apply her skills to her passion.