Thursday, March 17, 2005

Computer classes geared to adults

By SUE WATSON
Staff Writer

Holly Springs area residents have access to introductory computer classes both at daytime and evening hours thanks to Northwest Community College and two class sites.

The classes conducted in the morning at Catholic Social Services and in the evenings at the city’s Information Technology Center offer adults and school age individuals an opportunity to learn how to use a computer, according to David Garcia and Anna Morrison, instructors for Northwest Community College. Some of the equipment and all the instruction is provided through the Workforce Investment Act and Northwest.

Classes are free and can be repeated as often as one chooses.

Garcia said the classes are for those without any computer skills who want to learn to use them for home use and for those who want to learn new skills to improve their job skills.

New classes start up at the beginning of each month and include introduction to the computer, wordprocessing, Internet and Excel business computing.

Garcia has been teaching the classes in the evening at the Information Technology Center for about three years. His sister, Anna Morrison, teaches morning classes at Catholic Social Services where the instruction has been available for about a year.

Folks who usually sign up for the classes are either unemployed, employed and want to improve skills, want to learn for home use and hobbies, or are retirees who sometimes want to learn how to use e-mail to keep in touch with their children and grandchildren. Some want to use the Internet for research or for genealogies, Garcia said.

“They use e-mail to connect easily and cheaply with children as opposed to writing letters or making expensive phone calls,” Garcia said. “Others want to start a business like a resume writing service or want to prepare their own resume.

“Our technology involving computers has opened up a lot of doors.”

A person does not have to know how to build a computer or fix one to use one, anymore than they need to know how to fix a car to drive one.

The technology center has about 40 computers available, a conference room and two classrooms available for evening classes. Evening classes begin at 5:30 p.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m.

Morning classes at Catholic Social Services are held from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday. The computers are available for the public to use for the Internet in the afternoons and on Friday providing the individual already knows how to go online or to use the word processor or other applications.

Jerry Hemme is a prime example of an adult who is taking classes for personal use.

“I’m out here trying to improve my education,” he said. “It helps me at home. I enjoy it and it is something to do.”

Hemme said he decided to take classes at the urging of his grandson Chris Shoffner who introduced him to the computer first.

“I decided (to take classes) to learn a little more myself, after sitting there watching him do it,” Hemme said.

He took introduction to computers, word processing and Excel and now is taking Internet classes at Catholic Social Services.

“I’m 62,” Hemme said. “Anyone my age can learn. It gives me an outlet. I can’t get out and do the physical things anymore, but it keeps me in touch with the world. It is also handy for online shopping.”

Hemme likes to keep up with the news more closely to learn more about space exploration - Saturn and its moon Titan and Mars - satellite weather pictures and other interesting topics.

“It just keeps you in touch with the whole world,” he said. “You don’t have to stay stale.”

Sr. Noel Curcio, director of Catholic Social Services, said the classes are aimed at providing a warm and friendly environment for those who may feel intimidated by computers. The classes are offered in the morning for those who may not want evening classes, she said.

Other job skills are taught at the center that help adults enter the workforce.

“We are grateful to Northwest to have this set up here,” Curcio said.

Activities at the WIN center are also useful to those who live in Holly Springs Housing, according to Tina Selman. New tenants are required to earn eight hours of community service or to enroll in some type of self-sufficiency program, she said.

Anyone interested in enrolling in daytime or evening classes may do so by calling Catholic Social Services at 662-252-1336. Ask to speak with Evelyn


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