Bob Uses His Computer Skills to Give Back

August 22, 2018

“I’ve been retired for about 10 years, and I absolutely have an interest in computers. So when I saw an ad that said ‘long-distance learning,’ ‘computer training,’ those were the right buzzwords for me.”

Bob saw an ad on Kijiji regarding volunteering for the Neil Squire Society’s Distance Computer Comfort program. The program enables qualifying individuals with disabilities to access basic computer training for free from the comfort of their home.

Bob had already been volunteering for years at music festivals, comedy shows, and even a boating tournament. Now, he has been volunteering with Distance Computer Comfort for over a year. He lives in Nova Scotia and has tutored three individuals in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Bob, Distance Computer Comfort volunteer

“My career was in hospital administration,” says Bob. “I was in a field called health informatics (new window), although when I started it wasn’t called that. I spent 25 years doing that kind of work and grew with the technology.”

Along the way, Bob became adept in programs such as Microsoft Excel (new window) and Access (new window). Currently, he works with a company that contracts with national defence. He teaches Microsoft Office, including Access, to the armed forces.

Tutoring with the Neil Squire Society was quite different. “It’s been very basic. One of the first lessons was how to create a folder on your desktop and move icons into them. I’ve done Word with both clients. With the second client, we actually did a bit of Excel and PowerPoint. The first one was very interested in photography, so we got a basic photo editing piece of software.”

Over his years of teaching, Bob has developed heaps of patience. He is able to carry that forward to his tutoring and sense what areas clients need more help in. And ultimately, the clients’ sense of accomplishment shines through, even though they are in different corners of the country.

“There’s been some times when we had a very successful lesson,” explains Bob. “Everything went well; there were no technical problems. I felt pretty positive and they felt pretty positive. And then Gordon [Watt, Distance Computer Comfort Coordinator] would say, ‘When this client left the building, they were smiling.’ You know you did something good when that happens.”

Although Bob hasn’t met any clients face-to-face, he had the chance to visit the Society’s headquarters in Burnaby during the summer of 2017. There, he met Distance Computer Comfort team members Gordon and Khatidja. “I believe that Neil Squire’s doing very good things and I’m happy to be part of that. It’s got a great purpose, and you have people who have done some amazing things.”