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Thursday, 19 July 2007 15:16

Honors Given to SeniorNet ‘Learning Center of the Year’ and ‘Online Program of the Year’

SANTA CLARA, Calif. July 9, 2007 – SeniorNet, the nation’s leading technology educator of older adults, today announced the recipients of its first annual Chairman’s Award, a new program designed to recognize SeniorNet Learning Centers and Online Programs from the past year that have demonstrated exceptional work in bringing technology access and education to older adults, and innovation in the use of technology to further adult education. SeniorNet is proud to honor the Don Weidman SeniorNet Learning Center in Huntington, New York and the online community’s Book Donation Program as the inaugural recipients of its prestigious Chairman’s Award. Created by the organization’s Board of Directors, the award honors outstanding achievement by a SeniorNet Learning Center and a SeniorNet Web Program.

SeniorNet students, Learning Center coordinators and site sponsors nominated 22 Learning Centers for consideration over a period of two months. The Board of Directors then made a selection based on the following criteria: innovative teaching/sharing methods, community outreach, Learning Center growth/sustainability planning, and participation in the national organization’s activities.

“It was a very difficult decision. All of the nearly 200 SeniorNet Learning Centers are doing exceptional work to help bridge the ‘Digital Divide’,” said Leslie M.Smith, SeniorNet board chairman. “But as the board and staff evaluated the nominees, the Don Weidman Learning Center excelled in each criteria area and truly exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding SeniorNet Learning Center.”

As the 2007 ‘SeniorNet Learning Center of the Year,’ the Don Weidman Learning Center will receive $1,000.00 to advance its technology education and access programs for adults age 50+ living in the greater Huntington, New York community.

The Don Weidman Learning Center, located at the Family Service League (790 Park Ave., Huntington, NY 11743-4516), offers sixteen different computer-related classes year-round and has served more than 4,000 students since it opened in 1999. The Learning Center continues to attract new students and volunteers by offering new classes, conducting open houses, promoting their courses at local libraries, community centers, churches and senior events and submitting articles to the community newspapers. Its website, newsletter, SNUG (SeniorNet User Group) and regular training workshops keep volunteers and students informed and engaged in the Learning Center’s activities.

In addition to support from SeniorNet headquarters, the SeniorNet Learning Center has proactively sought and received funding from its site sponsor, the Family Service League, as well as from the KeySpan Foundation, Suffolk County Office for the Aging, State Assemblyman Andres P. Raia, 18th District Legislator Jon Cooper, and the Town of Huntington. These efforts have made it possible for the center to feature the latest computer technology in its classroom.

In addition, students at the Don Weidman Learning Center give back to the community by refurbishing its older computers then donating them to local families and organizations in need. SeniorNet volunteers also take SeniorNet on the road to local assisted living facilities where they assist older adults one-on-one with tasks ranging from email and Internet searches, to photo editing, creating greeting cards and genealogy research.

Moss Rawn, SeniorNet coordinator, accepted the award on behalf of the Don Weidman Learning Center.

The Chairman's Award for SeniorNet Web Program of 2007 is presented to a team of volunteers for their innovative creation and dedicated implementation of the SeniorNet Book Donation Program.

“On behalf of the SeniorNet Board of Directors, I'm thrilled to present the SeniorNet Book Donation Program with a $1,000.00 donation for this life-changing initiative,” said Smith. “It’s amazing what has been accomplished in just a few short years of marketing and managing the program via the SeniorNet website. Additionally, the board wishes to recognize all of the volunteers and contributing organizations, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, who have donated books, time and resources to the success of the Book Donation Program.”

Inspired by the Wally Lamb book, Couldn't Keep it to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of the York Correctional Institution, the program began in 2004 as a way to help new and gently used books make a difference in the lives of the incarcerated women at the York, Connecticut facility. The program has since expanded to provide books to the libraries of the South Carolina Department of Corrections. To date, 5,086 books have been donated to these prison programs.

In response to the ‘Hope & Harmony for Humanity Initiative’, a collaborative, grant-based initiative of IBM, the Native American Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Department of the Interior and SeniorNet, designed to bring computer technology access and education to low-income and remote Native American reservations across the United States, the SeniorNet Book Donation Program expanded again in 2006 to begin collecting books for the Native American children on these reservations. More than 360 books have been collected for children of the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Montana and they’ve now expanded to include the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Cass Lake, Minnesota.

Smith presented the award to program coordinator, Ginny Anderson of Pauline, SC.

About SeniorNet

Founded in 1986, SeniorNet is an international non-profit organization that has taught hundreds of thousands of adults age 50+ to use computers and the Internet and has enriched the lives of millions through its award-winning website, With a thriving online community and a network of more than 200 locally run Learning Centers in the U.S. and abroad staffed by more than 3,500 volunteers, SeniorNet offers both offline and online destinations to a population that was originally neglected in the information revolution. With sponsorship by major corporations and foundations, private and public donations, and a backbone of individual members and contributors, SeniorNet continues to grow and offer new opportunities to those touched by its mission. SeniorNet headquarters is located in Santa Clara, CA.

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