Local teen has passion for helping seniors with technology

Jack Rice helping a senior with technology. (Photo courtesy Daniel Johnson)

Do you ever find yourself struggling with your smart phone or computer and think to yourself – I wish I had a “patient” tech-savvy teenager to help me. Well now you do.

His name is Jack Rice. Jack is a sophomore at Edmonds-Woodway High School.  Using his grandparents as his first clients, he started his own non-profit to help seniors with technology, when he was in just eighth grade. For the past year he has been volunteering at the Edmonds Senior / Waterfront Center.

In a recent conversation with Jack, I talked with him about his passion for helping seniors.

Where did your interest in helping seniors with technology come from?

My interest first came from watching my grandparents struggle with technology when I was in middle school. Both smartphones and computers were significant sources of frustration for them. With just a little bit of my time I was able to solve most of these issues and it was very rewarding to be able to help. This experience taught me that there is a significant divide between seniors and my generation and our abilities to access and interact with technology.

How did you come to start a nonprofit in the 8th grade?

My nonprofit, www.bridg.org, was my idea for creating an organization dedicated to helping bridge the technology gap between generations through outreach and education. Initially, my focus with bridg.org was on educating seniors on mastering the basics of smartphones, but I have subsequently grown the organization to include troubleshooting tech problems, setting up and educating on tablet use, and I’ve recently added two more team members from local high schools to help broaden my ability to reach seniors.

How do you feel when you see an elder begin to master their device?

I feel such a sense of accomplishment. It’s especially satisfying to help seniors with limited means who, once empowered with technology, are able to communicate with loved ones and gain access to healthcare.

Tell me about an experience with a senior you helped that really stands out?

One recent rewarding experience was helping a woman referred to me by the Edmonds Waterfront Center. She had no access to any devices and would have to walk to the library to email her family members as her only way of communicating with them. Though a project funded by Verdant Health Commission, I set her up with a tablet and trained her over multiple sessions and enabled her to communicate with her loved ones much more easily. It was very powerful to see how enabling a senior with technology was able to make such a profound difference in her life. It was also great just getting to know her and hearing about her life experiences. Getting to know seniors has been an unexpected but super fun aspect of this effort.

What are your long-term education and career goals?

I would like to attend a four-year college after high school and while I don’t have a specific area of focus in terms of a career right now, I would like to find a way to continue to build organizations that can help people.

Jack is helping seniors in many ways:

  • He has produced tech help videos he can share
  • He can help you over the phone or in person
  • He is working with EWC staff on Senior Tech Connect

His next free class is Smartphone Basics, set for Monday, July 19 from 11 a.m.-noon at theEdmonds Waterfront Center, Community Room B. To register call: 425-954-2521

Learn more about the Edmonds Waterfront Center here.

 — By Daniel Johnson
CEO, Edmonds Waterfront Center

  1. Thank you Jack. This is a wonderful article about what young people can do to improve our world.

  2. What a fantastic story about a fantastic young man. We all could use some help in this area. Those of us who were already half way through our careers when the electronic age began were behind the 8-ball to start. It’s only gotten worse as time has marched on. Thanks, Jack for your involvement in this much needed area.

  3. What a thoughtful, sharing young man! So many seniors are left out in this digital age, which is going forward whether we like it or not. Thank you, Jack, for enabling seniors to keep up in this tech world.

  4. Jack thank you for using your leadership and strengths to build others up. Leaders serve first and you have shown that by example. Thank you for the great impact you are having on the community, looking forward to seeing how you will continue to step up and flourish in the skills you and strengths you are gifted with.

  5. Jack I couldn’t be more proud of you! At a time when so many people are self-centered here you stand showing the community what a selfless care for others is all about. Focusing on the senior community is something you and the rest of us will never forget. We can all learn from your thoughtfulness and generosity.

  6. Jack, such a great article and I am so impressed with your creativity and thoughtfulness to see an area where there is a need and actually do something about it! We can all learn from you and your example of making the world a better place! Thank you!

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