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The school of Facebook

Maris Grove gets educated

Created date

February 23rd, 2010
The social networking website Facebook has proven to be a great way to stay in touch with friends and family members; in fact, it s a way to discover what s going on in loved ones lives without having to write letters or make phone calls. Maris Grove Senior Community Services Manager Jenn Allen wanted to show residents of the Delaware County community that there was a new and different way to stay in touch with those they loved, and it just so happened that this tool would also allow them to reconnect with people they d shared their lives with in the past. No longer would distance or time keep people apart. Allen taught three different classes focused strictly on using the Facebook application in fall 2009: two beginner classes and one intermediate. I think Facebook is especially relevant for seniors as their kids and their grandkids are using this tool to communicate, Allen says. I wanted them to see they can be involved in this communication as well. The neatest part of the class for Allen was when one resident found an old classmate from years ago.

A sign of the times

Larry Lembo attended all three of Allen s classes because he wanted to learn something new. We can t go to the people who did this before us and ask how they did it, and in that way, we re pioneers, he says. Advancing technology can be intimidating, and there is so much information out there, it s easy to get lost in it. That s why Lembo and others appreciated Allen s classes so much. Facebook is a whole new way of communicating, Lembo says. It leaves the world wide open. Lembo s grandchildren friended him on Facebook, where they wouldn t even friend their own parents. Out of his nine grandchildren, he s in constant contact with four of them. His one granddaughter is in Paris, and when he sees her written word along with her picture, Lembo doesn t feel that distance between them. The magic is that it s instant knowledge, he says, and instant connection.

Facebook for fun

Carole Henrich started using Facebook strictly for fun. Though she only took one of Allen s classes, she met with Allen privately for a refresher course. Facebook has allowed her to connect with her grandson and her great-nephew in a different way. Even though his mother protested, I sent a friend request to my grandson, and he friended me, says Henrich. He just started college, and following him on Facebook allows her to be more involved with his daily life. She gets to see what matters to him in this moment, like the ball games and classes. Just a few months ago, when it was her birthday, she got messages written on her wall from her grandson and great-nephew, and it made her day. I feel like I m in today s world, she says. Like Lembo, she looks at Facebook every day and uses it as a tool to follow up with friends who are in other states. Some people are trepidacious about Facebook because they are scared about their personal information being out there on the Web for all to see, but I m not finding that s the case, she says. What s on the horizon for Facebook and the residents of Maris Grove? A club? Possibly some more classes? Only time will tell.