CATONSVILLE, MD – Charlestown's Tech Tutors, a free, resident-run service, is helping people each day become more computer savvy. The service helps people select an appropriate device, get it up and running and troubleshoot solutions.
Howard Nixon and Jack Harrison started Tech Tutors three years ago. "I remember my dad once attended a computer class, and it was confusing to him," says Nixon. "At the time I thought, 'We need to figure out a way to help seniors learn how to use technology and computers.' So after I moved to Charlestown, I was looking for something new to get involved in, and that's how Tech Tutors was born."
Nixon works one-on-one with Charlestown neighbors on all kinds of devices, from laptops and tablets to smartphones and printers.
A former Towson University sociology professor, when it comes to computers, Nixon is mostly self-taught. Through trial and error, he learned the basics of how computers operate and became proficient in office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
"I have always had an interest in computers, although I'm far from being a computer scientist or IT specialist," he says. "Every time I go to an appointment I learn something new. The fact that it is challenging is what makes it so much fun. I don't like to give up easily, so I will just keep plugging away until I solve the problem."
Jeanne Mewshaw called on Tech Tutors for help with her MacBook Pro laptop and printer.
"Howard spent three hours one afternoon helping me," says Jeanne. He is patience personified. With his teaching background, Howard exudes the enthusiasm that makes you to want to learn more about computers and how they work. I've learned a lot just from watching him."
Nixon averages three appointments a day. When his calendar fills up, he relies on Harrison to assist with the workload. To-date, Tech Tutors has logged more than 1,230 visits.
"For me, it's as much a social thing as it is a technical thing," says Nixon, who moved to Charlestown with his wife Sara from Town, MD. "I talk to people and teach them what I'm doing. I try to relate to them and make them feel comfortable. When I walk around the campus, a lot of people know me as the Tech Tutor guy and will ask me questions. I don't mind at all. I enjoy it. People have been incredibly gracious and appreciative. I've had them bake me cookies and other things.
"I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile," he says. "At the end of the day, I really get as much out of it as the people I'm helping."
About Charlestown: Charlestown, one of 19 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 110-acre campus in Catonsville, Maryland. The community is located in Baltimore County and is home to more than 2,000 residents. Additional information about Charlestown can be found at CharlestownCommunity.com.