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Kent Co. Senior Millage Expansion Drives New Technology Support Program for Nonprofits

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A Grand Rapids nonprofit that provides independent living services got a boost last week when voters in Kent County extended senior services mileage to help with the organization’s recently launched tech support program.

County voters voted by a wide margin in last week’s election to approve an eight-year senior mileage extension, according to the Kent County Clerk’s Office.Millage plans to generate about $13.3 million this year to support more than 50 services. is.

senior neighborsLast month, a Grand Rapids nonprofit that helps local seniors become self-sufficient, announced a tech support program last month that includes group workshops, one-on-one support, and a tech lending library for residents 60 and older. .

Officials at the nonprofit say the program will help seniors adapt and participate in the rapidly changing technology landscape.

Senior Neighbors Program Coordinator Peter Kotenhoven said: “A lot of the services they apply for, a lot of the forms and correspondences are done over the internet, things like online documents.”

Basic technology literacy is key to independent living, added Kortenhoven.

“I think technology is the area that will leave the older generation behind the fastest,” says Kortenhoven. “I thought it would be great to have a program to fill that gap.”

The program enables seniors to use technology for a variety of purposes, including communicating with family and friends, completing online applications for services, and navigating the telemedicine system.

The program’s curriculum also includes an introduction to cybersecurity threats and Internet fraud that cost more than $3 billion in damages last year, according to AARP.

“We hope we can influence that, as long as we tell them what to look out for, who to respond to and who not to respond, and what the landmarks are for people trying to get information. There is,” Kotenhofen said.

Voters Support Older People

Shortly after Senior Neighbors announced its technology support program, approximately 71% of voters in Kent County approved an eight-year extension to the county’s senior services mileage, according to unofficial election results.

of Western Michigan Regional Agency on Aging (AAAWM) manages millage funds in partnership with 32 local agencies.

Each year, AAAWM identifies priorities for mileage funds. Technology was identified as his priority for 2021, and local authorities chose Senior Neighbors as a partner to address that need. The Kent County Senior Mirage Review Board, made up of county commissioners and community seniors, approved the Senior Neighbors proposal.

Kendrick Heinlein, Director of Contract Services and Program Development at AAAWM, said of technology programming for seniors:

A variety of support services are available to seniors in the region, but most require basic technology skills to access programming, Heinlein said.

“(Senior Neighbors) are reliable partners. We have been working with them since Mirage started in 1999,” said Heinlein. “Their proposal had a mix of at-home sessions and class sessions that we wanted, with a focus on serving all seniors.”

This program welcomes all adults over the age of 60.

“The bottom message I want to get across is that everyone is welcome. We really want to make a difference and help them become self-reliant,” Coltonhoven said. .

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