An East Valley organization is short on funds needed to help more homebound senior citizens overcome isolation and depression by connecting them to the Internet with donated computers.
Community Care Connections, an Ahwatukee Foothillsbased nonprofit organization, has 75 computers and software available for a waiting list of seniors eager to go online.
But the organization’s program, Technical Assistance for Seniors Homebound, needs about $37,500 to pay for Internet service and technical assistance, said DeAnna Smothers, president and co-founder of the organization. This year, it has received enough money to help 125 seniors, but the goal is to have all 200 computers in use by the end of next year.
"It’s opened up the entire world to them, when before they were isolated with the TV," Smothers said. "Getting 75 more people this computer would make them so happy."
Evaluations by the organization’s primary benefactor, the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, have shown declines in homebound seniors’ depression levels after they were connected to the Internet. Those reporting clinical depression dropped from 41 percent to 10 percent, and those with borderline depression dropped from 16 percent to 4 percent, Smothers said.
"This result is greater than that achieved by a course of antidepressant medication," Wayne Parker, director of research and evaluation for the trust, wrote in an evaluation of the program. The impact, he said, "would be characterized as large and effective in reducing the depression of homebound seniors."
Dorothy Young, 75, said getting her Internet-connected computer through the organization two years ago has changed her life. She stays in touch with her daughter in New York with e-mail and puts together a calendar of events for her senior housing community in Phoenix.
"It’s really lifted my spirits," she said. "I’d be lost without the computer."
The organization works with senior care homes to identify homebound seniors who could benefit by having a computer and online service. Once chosen, seniors receive computer installation, training and 24-hour technical assistance. The services continue as long as funding is available.
Find out more
For information about Community Care Connections or to make a donation, call (480) 785-8889 or visit www.4ccc.org.