CINCINNATI — In a growing digital age, one group of people is being left behind. But thanks to a program with Meals on Wheels, seniors are learning to be digitally savvy.

What You Need To Know

  • The Digital Connect Program is the first of its kind in the area

  • The program not only provides digital support but also free or reduced cost of the Internet, tablets, or support depending on income level

  • For Donna Kinney, the program allowed her to stay connected over the last three years

  • Right now, there are almost 200 participants and a waitlist for the program

Donna Kinney doesn’t go anywhere without her tablet.

“I’m on it every day!” Kinney said

The Cincinnati native said she always wanted to learn how to be better with technology.

“I didn’t have a computer or anything, and that was my promise: I was gonna get a computer, gonna get a computer," she said. "Then I got this, and all I need now if I want to print something out is get a printer.”

Now, thanks to the Digital Connect program with Meals on Wheels, she can. The program provides technical support, tablets, and the Internet either at a reduced cost or for free based on your poverty level.

A weekly calender with Digital Connect programs is sent out every month. (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

“I say it’s a Godsend because I can see my friends on here," Kinney said. "I can talk to people. I can look at movies. I can order groceries.”

Doing all of those things are key in an ever-changing digital world. According to the Pew Research Center, 25% of adults 65 and older are without internet connectivity and 39% without a smartphone, which makes it difficult to do things like digital couponing, keeping seniors from saving on basics at the store.

Kinney sometimes orders her groceries on her tablet. (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

It's one of the many reasons Shelley Goering with Meals on Wheels in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky decided to start the first-of-its-kind program

“It is a way to keep that growing segment of older adults connected to programming that’s essential and that they need to keep them connected to their communities and in their home," Goering, the chief business development officer for the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Meals on Wheels, said.

Shelley Goering poses for a picture on Kinney's tablet. (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

The program has had major success, with nearly 200 participants and a waitlist.

“There’s definitely a need to grow," Goering said. "We are looking for ways to efficiently grow the program so we can serve more and more people.”

For Kinney, the program has been a way to stay connected over the last three years- with programming from book clubs to tai chi.

“This was a lifesaver in a tumultuous scene," Kinney said. "I had something that I could see people, talk to them and it was like they were sitting in my living room.”

Keeping her tablet always at the ready, to make the most of connecting.

“You get to meet some phenomenal people," she said. "People I would have never met otherwise.”