Tech Teens: Brother and Sister Reach Out to Help Others With Technology

Being tremendously helpful in this pandemic has been as easy as clicking a button for Elizabeth and Thomas Garity – or rather showing others how to click it.

The siblings from the South End have found a lot more time on their hands recently, with Boston Latin School going online for Thomas and Elizabeth’s freshman year at St. Andrew’s College in Scotland cut short. Back in the neighborhood, they wanted to be helpful to neighbors.

The family lives next door to Norma Zack, who is tied in with the South End Seniors group. The SESs have been quick to adapt, or try to adapt, to technology to continue their weekly meetings – despite not being able to meeting in person at the Haley House.

Some have found the transition very easy.

Others have been challenged.

Enter the Garity siblings.

“At first we wanted to do something to help because we had more time on our hands,” said Elizabeth. “We wanted to help go out and get groceries for the older adults in the neighborhood so they could stay home and be protected. After we heard more about the restrictions being imposed, we decided it would be better to do something with less physical contact.”

Having been on Skype face-to-face calls with their grandmother in England routinely, they saw some of the trouble she was having. Then their mother suggested they volunteer their time to help those in the neighborhood, particularly older adults, having trouble communicating online.

“Communicating over the Internet is very important right now,” said Elizabeth. “For us, it’s easier because we’ve been doing that six weeks now for school and even before that I frequently used Facetime to talk to my friends. It’s just not as easy for people to do these things if they didn’t grow up with a computer in front of them like we did.”

So far, they have had a handful of people seeking help. Some of them needed help downloading software like Skype, while others wanted help figuring out how to do screen shots.

“They called us and we were able to talk over the phone about it,” said Elizabeth. “We can talk over the phone, but if they know how to use Zoom, we can use the screen sharing technology to be able to see what’s happening on their computer remotely.”

They have had a lot of communication with the South End Seniors, having an ‘in’ with Zack to the group, and they said they hope more folks contact them for help.

“I’ve been surprised by their humor,” said Thomas. “I couldn’t believe they called their group the ‘Geezers.’ That surprised me.”

It is something they want to do because they hope someone in England would do the same for their grandparents.

“We’re not alone in this,” she said. “We need to take care of each other and watch out for each other. Fortunately for us, we have family and are together. Many of the older adults are on their own. It can be really difficult when there is so much infection and it’s not safe to go out…Because we’re so close to our grandparents, I would hope people in their neighborhood are doing the same thing for them. Right now, it’s so important to do your part to help others at a higher risk.” Both said they are willing to help those who are in need of basic technical assistance with computers if they can. They can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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