And in my spare time …

A while ago, I had a thought. Yup, it hurt, but I thought I would share the journey that thought has taken me on. The thought was that people in Adult Care Centers want to be in contact with “family” and that they have stories to tell. Please remember that I do family research, which is what caused the thought.

Both of my parents were in one such center once we determined that they could no longer live in their house. My mother could no longer hear anything, but we were able to get her on email. I live about 90 minutes from her, so I was not able to really teach her how to use this “new fangled thing”.

I live in a town with two Adult Care Centers associated with my church and I know people who live in both. Many Sunday’s I go to one of them, to help out the local clergy person. My clergy person friend, said that they had residents who wanted to learn “computers”. Wow, that’s a very broad topic, but since I had retired, remembered the issues with my mom, I said “sure”.

So, a group of about 6 residents started to learn “computers”. Most of them had computers with access to the internet, but like my mother, didn’t have a lot of help learning how to use them. Our journey started.

I started up front, letting them know, that I thought that there are family, “out there” who wanted to hear their Story. They also know that I do family research, I wasn’t going to teach genealogy, but computers. They are learning how to use computers, how to search, how to use social media.

After we talked about searching, both on the computer and “on line”, I asked each one to tell me what they might want to search for. “An IRS Form”, a place,  pictures on my computer were the first searches they wanted. Introduced Google search and found the first two items, and showed them how to find ALL of the images on the computer.

Being a user of Google, and Google+, I showed them how I use Google+, which then offered an opening into Social Media. We talked about SKYPE, as a couple of folk had “tired it”, then I offered Hangouts. I demonstrated Hangouts On Air, with DearMRYTLE. I turned around and saw the expression on their faces, which indicated that a Hangout might be an easier way to communicate with family. I shared one of the comments from the DearMYRTLE (Google+) Community about having a family gathering at Easter, on a Google+ Hangout.

How can you talk about Social Media, without talking about Facebook? So we found a couple of their family on Facebook.

One of the future topics, that THEY want, is genealogy and THEY want to share their story with family.


As this project is moving along, I get an email from the other Adult Care Center. THEY want to start a Genealogy Club, and would I help. Our first gathering was this past Thursday, with 22 people showing up. Newbie’s, DAR Members, and folks with lot’s of experience. The activities director and I were overruled about having a monthly meeting, and will meet 2 days a month. They want to get started and/or knocking down some brick walls. The really nice thing is that they have a computer lab, that is under construction, but have computers available while the construction is taking place.


Why am I sharing this on my blog?

I am certain that there are other places “out there” that want OUR help. Both groups “get” that folks want to hear their stories, but are looking for a way to do that. All it takes is a volunteer to come in and share their experience.

What I have learned, is that I TOO can, have, and will learn from them, while I attempt to share my experience.


14 Responses to And in my spare time …

  1. You are such a blessing to so many, Russ. Way to go! I’ve been scanning my dad’s photo albums, put them in Google+ then when I visit him we go to his laptop and view the photos. He says it helps to keep his mind off himself. And of course it stirs up a storytelling time too. We both benefit.

  2. Peggy Clemens Lauritzen says:

    Russ, I applaud you! Instead of these older, precious members of our society being put on the back burner, you are helping them to still be a viable asset to all of us. I, too, work with the older ones, getting their precious memories down so they will feel someone still cares.

    It’s wonderful seeing the light in their eyes…

    • Peggy,

      The light in their eyes and the smiles on their face.

      I remind them, that they should not worry WHO sees their stories, because at some point in time, SOMEONE WILL see their story. Those readers or listeners will have a smile put on their face because of that story.

      Thank you,


  3. I, too, teach senior adults with two classes of genealogy and one of memoir writing. We meet weekly from Sept-Dec and Jan-April. I have gained so much in working with people who have so much to share.. Good to hear that others feel the calling to help our seniors connect with technology and break through their own brick walls of learning.

  4. Linda Schreiber says:

    Marvelous, Russ!

    And for some of these people, you might want to take a look at TreeLines. Specifically set up to just write your own family stories, post a photo, connect others to a story, continue stories on those people, or places, or subjects, etc. I’m not affiliated. Just a user. But it is great, and easy to use. And as long as the stories are public, the whole system is, and will be, free to use, edit, delete, etc. Developer winner at RootsTech.

    You said:
    –at some point in time, SOMEONE WILL see their story. —

    Just two days ago, I was contacted by yet another grandchild of one of my grandfather’s siblings. They had eight children that lived. I have run into, and shared information with, grandkids of four of those children so far, over the years. We have shared the family bible, and lots of photos and many stories and remembrances, but **BOY** do we wish we could have stories from the people themselves!!

    Even those who have no children of their own. Even those who were only-children. Even those who do not know who their own grandparents were. Good people, all your stories, even the small and funny ones, matter! They give us so much….

    A sense of who you are, and a hint of how things were when you were growing up, and a hint of what things were like in your life and place and time. And those things help give us perspective. And open our minds beyond our own experiences.
    They are a great gift….. And we will try to pass that kind of gift forward. (Or, 50 years from now, someone else will say **Boy**, do we wish we could read the stories they told about themselves!)

    • Linda,

      Thank you for your comments and that application. I think I saw it at RootsTech. My group isn’t there yet, but we will. I’ll go back to my trip to RootsTech and review the Vendor list and some of the information I picked up as I walked around the exhibit all.

      Thanks for the reminder.


  5. Marsh says:

    Wish my Dad was interested in his ‘assisted living home’. He won’t/can’t write (arthritis), but can type some. A great program that could help those is Dragon Naturally Speaking. If they tell the story, the program types it for them! Great for young and old alike. {not affiliated with this at all only a happy user}

  6. Jana Last says:

    What a wonderful idea! Bravo Russ, and thank you for serving these lovely senior citizens and their families.

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

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