Computer tutor impacts lives

The Internet is a primary form of communication for most people today. However some people, mainly senior citizens, have yet to learn how to use this technological medium, despite the growing dependency on Internet-based tasks, such as e-mail or online banking. This is where Whitney Coleman does her CSER.

Coleman, a sophomore business and human resources management major, has volunteered at Timbrook Library on Timberlake Road for the past two semesters. Coleman found out about the library at the fall 2009 Community Service (CSER) fair.

“I met Coralee Tuck (the Timbrook volunteer coordinator) at the fair. I was just trying to find a CSER that would fit within my schedule and that I would enjoy,” Coleman said. “She asked me if I knew how to use a computer and a cell phone and I said ‘Yeah,’ and then she asked if would like to work with old people and I said ‘Sure.’ So that’s how I got started.”

Coleman works as a computer tutor at the library. She works primarily with senior citizens, teaching them how to set up and operate e-mail, navigate Web sites and show them how to generally operate a computer. She has gotten to know a lot of people through her work at Timbrook, according to Coleman.

“It’s not like your average library. It’s very tiny, so it’s like a home for people. There are regulars that come in day by day, so you get to know people in the community, their families, their interests. I guess you could say I like the experience of meeting people outside of campus,” Coleman said.

Coleman says that she has had the chance to open up more to people when working with the elderly at Timbrook.

“Outside of Timbrook Library, I’m a pretty shy person. Being that they are elderly, they come out straight with their problem or issue,” Coleman said. “They’re very talkative anyway, they want to carry on a conversation outside of what they want to learn. It’s pretty simple, just a ‘How is your day going,’ or ‘What would you like to learn today?’ and we’ll just go from there. I can be a pretty open person.”

Branch manager Judy Gerlinger works directly with Coleman and has been blown away by the library patrons’ response to her work ethic and positive attitude.

“We have had people tip her with money and ask for her specifically when they come in,” Gerlinger said. “She has always come in with just a lovely attitude. She’s very patient and polite, and she is just a real example of what Liberty University stands for, I believe.”

Coleman once helped a woman set up an e-mail account so she could keep up with her family that she had limited contact with because she could not afford long-distance phone rates. By teaching the woman how to use e-mail, Coleman “gave her the world,” according to Gerlinger.

“What we do here at Timbrook Library is almost like a ministry, and this volunteer position seemed to be tailor-made for Whitney,” Gerlinger said. “We have a lot of senior citizens who come here, and she has been so patient and loving with them as a tutor.  Whitney exemplifies what Liberty stands for — ‘Changing lives … one degree at a time.’ Whitney changes lives one person at a time.”

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