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Connecting Seniors to Students During COVID

By The Yonkers NNORC and the YPIE Tech Squad

The Yonkers Office for the Aging and WJCS were given a grant from the NYS Office for the Aging to launch the first NNORC in Westchester County in January 2020. The Yonkers NNORC (Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) serves seniors 60+ in Northeast Yonkers by offering information and services from a Resource Specialist, a Registered Nurse, and virtual programs and activities.

Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE) has been in existence for over a decade. YPIE partners with students to ensure they are ready for, enroll in, and complete college. YPIE works with high school students across Yonkers to prepare them to be lifelong learners equipped to thrive in the future economy and empowered to contribute to their communities and humanity.

The Yonkers NNORC realized early on during COVID that seniors were becoming isolated and that technology was just one of the ways seniors could stay in contact with their friends and families. The NNORC joined forces with YPIE to assist seniors with a myriad of services including learning how to text and email via their phones, learning how to join zoom calls via their computers, getting on the internet, and sending pictures to name a few. YPIE also has bilingual students who are able to assist clients in Spanish.

The students have learned a great deal from working with the seniors as well. They have learned to walk step by step through processes over the phone since they are not able to meet in person. They have also learned customer service skills and have researched devices and issues to help resolve seniors’ concerns. They have learned to be patient, speak lower, be more kind, caring, and respectful, be clear with directions, and learn how to interact with others over the phone.

They meet weekly with their YPIE advisors Genevieve Thevenin and Eloy Cano as well as Sally Pinto from the NNORC in order to ensure that the students’ questions and concerns are answered as well as getting trained in the new technology

Aman Shahzad, YPIE Senior Tech Specialist, assists Joan O’Brien with her technological issues and speaks with her almost every week not only to assist her with technological issues but also to make sure she is getting by smoothly during this isolation period due to COVID-19.

Aman states, “Helping her has been the highlight of his summer and it has made him feel joyous helping someone in such a strange time. What’s more, she is always making sure to check up on me, making sure that I too am doing well.” Joan said, “Aman has been very helpful. I am not that great with the cell phone and he has taught me a lot. It has been a great experience and I recommend that others use the YPIE Tech Squad as well. Aman is a great young man.”

For further information about the Yonkers NNORC and the YPIE Tech Squad, contact Sally Pinto at or call 914-391-1323.

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