Despite a warm, spring day that often attracts many of Willow Pond Senior Care’s residents outside to the porch, Marvin Judy is in the dining room, sitting beside Shira Davis, a 22-year-old Georgia Southern University senior from Marietta.
Judy is a man on a simple mission. He has a new laptop and wants to explore the World Wide Web. But he, like many seniors, is computer challenged, and his Dell computer sits untouched in a black computer bag.
In order for this 74-year-old to embrace the world of technology, he needs someone to walk him through the process. He needs a teacher. With his needs and the needs of other seniors in mind, Willow Pond started technology tutoring for its community, and Davis, who majors in public relations, volunteered for the job.
Positioned at a dining room table, both have their laptops open, and Marvin concentrates on Davis’ hand movements. She is showing him how to attach the mouse to the USB port.
Davis and Judy have known each other since she began her internship at Willow Pond a year ago.
“Interestingly, Mr. Marvin moved in about the same time I started my internship, and he was the first resident that I met,” Davis said. “On my first day, I was assigned to interview him for our community newsletter. I found him to be quiet and hesitant to open up. Now, a year later, he is flourishing in this retirement community.”
Back in the ‘80s, Judy actually worked with a behemoth of a computer when he was the postmaster in St. Matthews, South Carolina. After retirement, his skills got rusty, and he did not embrace the boom of laptop technology. He became “unplugged” and one of the faces of the digitally deficient. According to a 2014 report from the Pew Research Center, 4 in 10 American seniors never use the Internet, and most offline seniors say they would need help if they wanted to go online in the future.
With his laptop in front of him, Judy discovers the first of many challenges — he cannot log on because he has lost his password and cannot remember it.
Davis helps him recall what it might be.
“A pet’s name? 123456?” she asks.
After many attempts and failures, Davis makes an executive decision and invites him to use her computer instead.
“What do you want to search for first?” she asks.
“ESPN,” he replies.
He pecks it in and voila, it comes to life. Marvin starts talking enthusiastically about his favorite team, the South Carolina Gamecocks.
“We hate Clemson!” he yells, then starts rattling off other sites he plans to visit to follow his beloved team.
“I want to read Orangeburg’s The Times and Democrat newspaper and The State, Columbia’s daily,” he said.
With that, Davis, the quintessential millennial, has an idea that delights Marvin.
“Why don’t we go to the University of South Carolina’s bookstore to buy something?” she suggests.
The die-hard Gamecocks fan begins eying those garnet jerseys and hats.
“Every fall, we have a contest at my son Kevin’s house when Carolina plays Georgia, and I’ve got to order some merchandise on this website,” he said.
But Davis knows better, because they still don’t have his password, so she asks him about email and Facebook.
“Yes, indeed,” he says. “I’ll email my son, his wife, Lisa, and Anne, my former wife,” he said.
Davis’ eyebrows rise, and she cuts her eyes over to Judy with a big smile.
“Nah, we’re just good friends,” he says.
Davis came to Georgia Southern to learn, but just shy of graduation, she has become a teacher. Marvin came to Willow Pond to retire, but now in his golden years, he has become a student.
And about that Google password — he’s still looking.