On May 5th the Masonic Angel Foundation formally launched its Laptops for Seniors project, a technology access program for low income senior citizens. Laptops for Seniors (LFS) is a spin-off of the Masonic Angels’ successful Laptops for KidZ project.
Working in partnership with the professional staff at area senior centers, Laptops for Seniors delivers refurbished laptop and desktop computers to the senior center to be sent home with low income seniors who need home computer access. As with other MAF programs for children, the Masons never learn the identity of those who receive LFS computers.
Computers are donated to the non-profit Masonic Angel Foundation and then refurbished by the MAF’s team of volunteers. Most machines are configured with either Microsoft Windows 10, which MAF receives as a non-profit member of the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program. Less powerful computers are configured with the Google Chromium operating system and operate much like a Chromebook. Computers that are not viable to refurbish are dismantled for parts.
“This program is a win for everyone,” says project director Mario Meré. “The donor receives a tax receipt letter from our non-profit and the senior citizen receives a free computer. Better still, this type of program keeps computers out of our landfills.”
Businesses often donate several computers at one time and the Foundation welcomes donations from individuals. The hard drives are wiped and overwritten on all donated computers. If the hard drive cannot be accessed it is physically destroyed.
The Masonic Angels launched Laptops for KidZ in 2010 and have provided over 1,700 refurbished devices to schools across Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts. Laptops for Seniors has its own stream of computer donations and funding to cover the cost of replacement parts and software licenses.
The Masons have been field testing Laptops for Seniors in partnership with senior centers in Orleans, Eastham and Dennis. “The program really took root in Orleans,” said Masonic Angel Foundation (MAF) president Robert Fellows. “Orleans has distributed six laptops, received four donations of machines and has a waiting list of ten seniors who need a device.”
After a six month field test, Laptops for Seniors went live on May 5th when the first machines donated by Orleans residents were delivered to the Orleans Senior Center.
“It is nearly impossible for a senior to navigate the health care or social service system today if they do not have computer access,” says Mr. Meré. A home computer also provides socialization for a senior that is largely home-bound. Social media and other websites help them reconnect with old friends, commiserate with their grandchildren, shop online and more.
The Masonic Angels developed the concept of Laptops for Seniors after observing the experiences of their own elderly members, parents and friends. Several MAF volunteers mentioned one member who moved to the “Masonic Home” in Charlton but stayed connected with his friends through Facebook and other sites he accessed on his Chromebook. “That laptop became his lifeline to the outside world,” reports Mr. Fellows. Through social media, that particular man was able to connect with childhood friends and folks he knew when he lived in other states before settling on Cape Cod.
The senior centers’ professional staff determine who receives the refurbished machines. The Masons have no contact whatsoever with recipients nor do they learn anyone’s identity. Many seniors who live in HUD-funded housing may qualify for Comcast’s $9.95 per month Internet Essentials broadband access program.
At this time the only way Laptops for Seniors are being placed is through local senior centers. Please do not contact the Masons directly.
Both Laptops for KidZ and Laptops for Seniors have ongoing needs for computer donations.
The accept Windows laptops, Chromebooks and some desktops. Minimum specifications are a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM and a 20 GB hard drive. LFS/LFK does not accept Apple products. Those wishing to donate a desktop should contact [email protected] prior to donating to go over specs.
If you have a machine you’d like to donate, you may contact the Foundation via [email protected] or leave a voice mail at 774-274-0910. All donors will receive a tax receipt letter from the Masonic Angel Foundation, Inc. once their machine goes through the intake process.