The Digital Literacy program sparked Ellen Gertzog’s interest when she was searching online for volunteer opportunities around Rochester that would allow her to be more engaged in her community.
The concept of breaking down barriers for older and lower-income individuals felt like the right fit and she knew she wanted to help with computer-related issues because she saw it as a solvable problem. From finding employment opportunities to accessing medical records, more and more resources are becoming digital. Ellen reflected on the need to provide proper support to individuals who are not familiar with the technology being used today saying, “We need to think about digital disadvantages in the way we do with other [disadvantages]. [Digital Literacy] is a focus on the capacity to use computers for necessary functions in our daily life.”
Additionally, Ellen was drawn to the program’s structure, which allows individuals to get support without having to sign up or qualify for it. “I have no agenda; I am here to accomplish their needs,” she says.
Ellen is so dedicated to the program’s mission that as she spoke, she excused herself to assist a gentleman who was attempting to access his email account. She took time to walk him through the process and then gave him space to put her advice into action.
She talked further about how she really enjoys seeing customers come back to ask for help with something new, knowing that they can trust her and work with her to get through a new challenge. As she continued to speak, she scanned the area to be sure the gentleman was able to complete his goal.
Ellen’s curiosity and tenacity have allowed her to approach each new situation and new customer with an open mind and a willingness to see them succeed. She believes these qualities are key in making sure that each interaction is a positive and productive one. Her previous experiences with other non-profit organizations have given her an understanding that people need support in order to grow and flourish. Moreover, having experience working with diverse groups, she is able to help people of all ages and races to learn and gain the access to what they need to get ahead.
Ellen recently decided to move to Massachusetts because she and her husband were looking for a quieter space to connect with nature and enjoy the “simpler things.” They fell in love with Northampton and will be enjoying the beautiful view of a conservation area from their own back yard.
Digital Literacy staff are so happy to have spent time getting to know Ellen and that our customers had the advantage of her skills and generosity over the last 21 months. We cannot thank Ellen enough for her work with customers, engaging other volunteers, supporting program events, and serving as a leading force in helping to grow the program’s resource base. Good Luck with your new adventure, Ellen. We will miss you.
Digital Literacy, a program of Literacy Rochester, helps adults become fully engaged in their community as citizens, parents, consumers, and workers. The Digital Literacy program is provided free of charge on a one-to-one, drop-in basis in partnership with OACES.