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Teeniors moves tech coaching for seniors online

In this pre-virus file photo, Trish Lopez, center, the founder and CEO of Teeniors gets the free workshop started at the Bosque Farms Community Center in December. Teeniors pairs tech-savvy teenagers with seniors to help them navigate electronic devices. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Most New Mexico seniors struggling with smartphones and other mobile devices can now access individual online coaching sessions with tech-savvy teens for free during the coronavirus.

With the pandemic isolating people in their homes, education program Teeniors has pivoted from community workshops and in-person coaching for individuals to a completely virtual format that offers live one-on-one assistance by phone or video conferencing. And thanks to grants from public and private entities, most New Mexicans can now access online assistance for free, said Teeniors CEO Trish Lopez, who founded the organization in 2015 to connect tech-savvy teens with technology-challenged seniors.

“We really want to help seniors stay engaged and connected during the epidemic,” Lopez said. “We want to empower them to connect with their loved ones and the world through the pandemic while staying healthy.”

Since 2018, Teeniors has received $85,000 in grants from Comcast and Facebook to provide free community workshops in central and southern New Mexico.

This week, Facebook approved another $40,000 grant to continue the workshops and provide all participating seniors with a free “Portal,” which is Facebook’s version of an iPad, valued at $300 each.

Santa Fe Community Foundation and Nusenda Credit Union have also approved two new grants of $5,000 each to help Teeniors transition to an online format and to extend free coaching sessions into northern New Mexico, including Española and Taos.

“All of our work before the coronavirus was through in-person individual coaching and community workshops,” Lopez said. “Now it’s 100% virtual and always one-on-one with a live Teenior directly working online with a senior. We won’t reinitiate community workshops or in-person coaching again until we get past the coronavirus isolation.”

Free coaching is not available for people out of state, or in regions of New Mexico not covered by the grants. But Teeniors has reduced its normal fee of $69.95 for one-hour individual sessions to $39.95 during the coronavirus, with deeper discounts for low-income individuals.

Since pivoting to an online format, Teeniors has provided about 60 individual coaching sessions, including 14 with seniors out-of-state.

“We lose that direct human connection, but it’s been very successful so far, with a 90% approval rating,” Lopez said. “It’s also good for the Teeniors, because isolation is always a huge problem for teenagers, and this keeps them connected as well in the coronavirus (environment).”

For more information, visit teeniors.com, send an email to teeniors@gmail.com, or call (505) 600-1297. Spanish speaking coaches are available upon request.

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