"Seniors Training Seniors" Volunteers and Students Enjoy Learning, Connecting and Sharing

Lead instructor Paul Garavaglia and instructor-in-training Roger Winters describe the value of volunteering with Seniors Training Seniors.

New technology appears daily, seemingly out of nowhere. If you have felt left behind and asked a well-intentioned family member, friend, or even a grandchild to help you, learning something new may have become even more challenging!

If you are over 50, there's no need to feel left behind or frustrated. Contact the Seattle Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens' Seniors Training Seniors program. It's a great opportunity to learn how to use a computer or advance current skills, with individualized instruction in a relaxed, attentive, and non-intimidating atmosphere.

Seniors Training Seniors classes include MS Windows & Computer Basics, Basics Plus (files, folders, attachments), Word Simplified, Publisher 101, How to Publish a Book Online, Photo Editing, Video Texting, Mentoring 1:1, and resources for online learning. PowerPoint, Outlook, and several others classes may be added in 2013.

Seniors Training Seniors—designed for mature adults—serves students who are at least 50 years old. Some students are well into their 90s! Small class sizes (three to six students) are taught by peers—trained senior volunteer instructors who are also age 50 or older. They share their knowledge, enthusiasm, compassion and humor with students in a relaxed, attentive, and non-intimidating atmosphere. Over the years, hundreds of seniors have registered for the low-cost classes, which are held in a variety of Seattle locations.

Whether you seek computer classes for your own knowledge and personal growth or you want to advance your Microsoft application skills for future employment, Seniors Training Seniors has a class to meet your interests and needs.

Following are comments from three program participants—a senior who is currently attending classes, an experienced volunteer instructor, and a new volunteer instructor-in-training:

"I appreciated the time the program coordinator spent listening to me so that I could take the computer classes that were right for me. I have taken classes in different places before but they were too intense and fast paced. I have been taking computer classes with Seniors Training Seniors and they have lifted my self-esteem and knowledge. The instructors [Paul and Roger] were compassionate, caring, kind and patient—assisting all students in the class at a pace which gave us time to learn and remember. I truly am thankful for this program for seniors—it is a blessing to us—I am so grateful. This experience has led me to help other people who are learning to use computers."

—Sherry Brown, Seniors Training Seniors student

"When I retired from the telecommunications industry, I wanted to find a volunteer opportunity that would put me in direct contact with new people, keep my mind active, and involve me in a subject matter that was interesting. Teaching seniors how to use a computer fits all three aspects. New people in every class provide challenging opportunities to help each one to learn about computers. I enjoy creating and updating curricula for the classes, and being front and center for a group of people who really want to learn. I'm having fun, and hopefully helping a small subset of our society cope with the ever changing world of computing."

—Paul Garavaglia, lead volunteer instructor

"I love teaching. Before retirement in 2008 from King County, my academic experience helped me to do well with adult and public education. My volunteer work in the community and my County responsibilities challenged me to improve continuously in meeting the needs of adult learners. The STS program is a great volunteer activity for me. I am excited to be able to help seniors learn to use computers and software effectively. Currently, I am 'shadowing' seasoned instructors in various STS classes. I have seen how they have developed skills needed to work with the seniors to help them improve their personal and professional experiences with computers and software...and have fun while learning."

—Roger Winters, volunteer instructor-in-training

To learn more about Seniors Training Seniors classes or to discuss volunteer opportunities in the program, contact Patti-lyn Bell at 206-684-0639 or patricia.bell@seattle.gov.


Author Patti-lyn Bell is the long-time coordinator of Seniors Training Seniors in the Seattle Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, a unit of Aging and Disability Services and the Seattle Human Services Department. The National Area Agencies on Aging recognized Seniors Training Seniors with a 2007 Aging Achievement Award for improving the lives of older adults.