Exposures: I Care: At 82, he’s seniors’ guide to digital world

Navigating through a crowded classroom, his voice resonates through speakers for those hard of hearing like a beacon guiding ships through the darkness.

With patience and humor, Joe D’Alexander, 82, teaches basic computer skills to a silver-haired audience eager to bridge the digital divide. After the death of his wife 16 years ago, he looked for a way to keep busy and began volunteering at SeniorNet, an international nonprofit aimed at helping older adults transition to the digital world.

With a background in computers, he quickly became an instructor and the site coordinator. For a $30 fee, adults 50 and older can take a six-session course on computer fundamentals. Those wanting to continue can take a course on using the Internet or $5 workshops on topics like buying and selling on eBay, making greeting cards and using a digital camera.

D’Alexander says it’s rewarding to see the students at the Sacramento training site near Rio Americano High School filled with confidence at the end of the course. “As they’re learning things, you can solely see the enlightenment on their faces,” he says. “That’s a real good feeling.”