Thanks to a community service program created by Chapman University student Jacob Pace ’20, the Orange Senior Center now offers free tech help from college students for people over the age of 50 during the academic year.

“It was all on his own that he did this,” said Katherine Connaghan, executive director of the senior center on Olive Street in Old Towne Orange. “He said he wanted to put together a program. We said, ‘Well, OK,’ and oh my gosh, he just went with it.”

Pace was a high school student looking for community service hours when he came up with the idea of pairing students, who are digital natives, with seniors and started a program at Sea Country Senior Center in Laguna Niguel.

It was such a success he decided to duplicate it at Chapman last fall, reaching out to his fraternity brothers at Beta Theta Pi as well as other students and Greek organizations. What usually starts as a way to accumulate community service hours often becomes a regular routine.

“I always tell the other kids, it’s something so easy for you to do that has such a profound effect on seniors,” said Pace, a business administration major who organizes about 85 Chapman volunteers.

The program operates weekly during the academic year. Senior citizens seeking tech assistance can make reservations through the senior center.

“Some seniors have difficulty with their cell phones, but they want to have one to be able to call someone in an emergency,” said Gretchen Snyder, director of operations at the senior center. “Some are trying to learn to text. Some are figuring out social media.”

Skylar Singer ’19 has helped regular visitor Kathryn Lillard learn how to use her laptop to watch movies through services like Hulu and others.

“It’s just fun for me,” Singer said. “I got to be friends with Kathryn, and I’ve kept coming in.”

(Photo/Amanda Galemmo ‘20)