KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Kingsport Senior Center was awarded a digital literacy grant combating isolation in older Americans.

The Senior Trust Consortium divided $3 million dollars into grants for 28 senior centers across the nation.

Kingsport Senior Center Manager Shirley Buchanan explained that pandemic isolation for seniors became deadly for some, but the reality was, that connection is important for information gathering as well.

“They wanted to put out a grant that would help because they realize that during the pandemic, there was social isolation and a problem with some seniors being able to get on the internet and get around and find out information important information that they would need, and perhaps even maybe making a tele-visit for a doctor or anything like that,” Buchanan said.

The grant provides the center with 100 Google Chromebooks and three interactive boards. It also provides funding for seniors to be trained on cyber security and how to use the technology.

“We want to teach them to get to all the right places and stay away from all the wrong places. And we don’t want any one of our seniors that is able to go through this program to be scammed on the internet and it’s so easy it so easy for people to get scammed,” Buchanan said.

She added that the new technology would be an amazing catalyst for making virtual learning possible.

“We’ll be getting a commercial Zoom account so that we can zoom instructors from other areas. So let’s say we know somebody in Asheville has a really good glazing technique, and we want to learn that so we can zoom that into our classroom into the classroom, and then also, should we ever have to close down again, we’ll have that Zoom account so our people can get on Zoom and take that class so we can keep the senior center virtually going,” she said.

Northeast State Community College will be partnering with the center to offer classes for seniors to use the internet.

“Teach classes on cybersecurity connectivity and getting them signed up to places that they would need to go to get information vital information that they might need,” Buchannan explained.

Mary Underwood has been a member of the Kingsport Senior Center for 19 years.

“When I don’t come for a week or two when something comes up and I don’t come, I can tell the difference. I think it’s the best bargain. And it keeps us in shape,” she said.

If you’re a Kingsport resident, it only costs $25 a year to be a member.

“Some seniors aren’t very tech savvy and think this will be a great opportunity. And also it’s good communication,” Underwood said of the grant funding helping seniors use the internet.

To learn more about the center, CLICK HERE.