Help Montclair’s seniors close the digital divide (Letter)
The April 9 Montclair Local story “Montclair municipal tax bill could rise by 2.5%” referred to the department of Senior Services partnering with the township’s library, saying “150 seniors received laptops and technical assistance.” Montclair Township may have participated in a program to distribute enabling digital devices to older Montclair residents, but, to my knowledge, this program was not dedicated to our township alone and was actually administered to eligible seniors through an initiative within Vanguard Health. Additionally, the Montclair director of Senior Services in partnership with the Montclair Public Library obtained Cares Act funding to provide WiFi connectivity and distributed these circulating hotspots to Montclair seniors who already owned computers.
These two initiatives alone are only a first step toward addressing the digital divide between our seniors and the rest of our population. We know that there are many Montclair seniors who lack any kind of modern connectivity devices and remain outside the digital communication loop. These neighbors who did not receive timely information during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic needed help to schedule a vaccination appointment and still need services from the township.
Because of these circumstances, the Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place (GAP) stepped in to fill the vaccination gap and has begun a collaboration with Laptop Upcycle to close the connectivity gap. Residents of Montclair who are interested in helping advance this project can help by donating old computers or Chromebooks to Laptop Upcycle. For more information about how to donate your unused laptop computer for the purpose of equipping our Montclair seniors who are in need, please go to Montclairgateway.org.
Co-chair, Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee
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