Cathie G. and Loanne S.

Digital literacy is a requirement in today’s society in order to navigate one’s personal and professional life.

Cathie and Loanne have recognized this, and thanks to their combined 500-plus volunteer hours at Bellingham’s Job Training and Education (JTE) Center, Seattle Goodwill students are able to learn digital essentials paramount to seamlessly maneuvering through their daily lives.

Cathie, for a long time, has provided instruction for computer programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint at Bellingham Technical College and sees regularly how gaining computer skills improves people’s lives, whether it be finding a job online or connecting with family across the country through email or video chat.

Loanne, on the other hand, came to Goodwill several years ago as a retired Navy veteran looking to gain computer skills. She wanted to volunteer, but found many positions required computer literacy she didn’t have.

“Unless you know Microsoft Word of Excel or something, they say, ‘No thank you. We can’t use you,’” Loanne said. “So, I became a student here.”

Loanne still remembers a form she filled out when starting as a student in Goodwill’s computer explorations class. There was a prompt that asked: “Why do you want to take this class?” Loanne wrote: “To be a better volunteer.”

The instructor, Loanne said, was struck by her answer and asked Loanne to continue on as a volunteer. So the class Loanne wanted to take in order to become a volunteer has turned into the class she now volunteers in.

And Loanne couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling volunteer role.

“I could probably get another volunteer position but not one as rewarding as this,” Loanne said. “I tell people the biggest thing we teach here is confidence. To watch people walk in (lacking confidence), and between this staff, they leave laughing and doing all kinds of stuff, because they are not afraid.”

Cathie has witnessed how impactful her time is to the students who come to her class.

Cathie works with many seniors who are retired and had computer skills while working, but since retirement haven’t kept up with the ever-changing world of technology.

“It just brings (the students) to that world where everyone else already is,” Cathie said. “They get more confident every class, and the pretty soon they are showing us how they can do stuff. And it’s ‘Look what I can do now!’ It’s pretty nice. It keeps bringing us back.”

 
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