LYNNFIELD HIGH’S HELPDESK MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL BY ANNE MARIE TOBIN| November 22, 2019

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Rita Calamari receives technical support from Robert Higdon. (Anne Marie Tobin)

LYNNFIELD — If you are a senior citizen struggling with your electronic devices, there is a better way to get the answers to your tech questions than waiting in line at your favorite Apple Store. And it won’t cost you a dime.

Once a month at Lynnfield High School, the members of the school’s Helpdesk team volunteer to work one-on-one with seniors in need of technical assistance. From how to turn on a GPS to how to set up notifications for an email account, to getting the most out of a smartphone or tablet, no problem is too small or too large for these whiz kids.

“This is a great opportunity to have a fun and exciting experience on a monthly basis,” said librarian Janice Alpert, who started the program three years ago and also founded the Helpdesk program to provide technical assistance to the high school community. “I was looking for a way to increase the use of the MakerSpace area in the community, so we came up with this idea and it has been extremely popular. We focus on specific technology needs, sort of our version of the service you get at places like the Apple Store in that it’s one-on-one.

“People have a chance to learn about technology, but even better is they are also forming multi-generational relationships, so it’s great for the kids and great for the seniors.”

One of the Helpdesk volunteers working the latest session on Nov. 12 was junior Emily Goguen, who joined the Helpdesk team as a sophomore.

“I didn’t know much about technology when I first started, but my knowledge has really grown,” she said. “But it’s much more than just helping people, it’s so much about meeting new people. Together, we teach each other, which is great because everything revolves around technology today.”

Rita Calamari had two helpers at her disposal, freshmen Robert Higdon and Colin McCormack.

“These young men know everything about anything you plug in,” said Calamari.”They were incredible and we even exchanged numbers after Robert said to call him anytime whenever I needed help. I’m so lucky because as a freshman, he will be here forever.”

Alpert said one of the regular participants is Frank Walsh.

“I come whenever I can because these kids give us the answers to what we want to know,” he said. “But I also feel that the benefits are mutual as we are giving these kids a chance to interact, which is such a good life skill to have.”

Alpert said she is planning another program survey.

“I won’t be at all surprised if the response is that, for both kids and seniors, that their favorite part of this program is having a chance to interact with each other and build meaningful relationships,” she said. “All you have to do is look around the room and all you will see are kids and adults smiling and having a great time.”

Anne Marie Tobin can be reached at atobin@itemlive.com.

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