Thunder Bay Inn offering internet training space for seniors

Thunder Bay Inn’s internet cafe is open Wednesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for seniors to drop in and learn computer basics, online safety and how to communicate online with others. Thunder Bay Inn was able to open the cafe using funds from Marquette County’s American Rescue Plan funds. (Journal photo by Dreyma Beronja)

BIG BAY — The Thunder Bay Inn is offering a unique opportunity for seniors in Big Bay and Marquette County.

Seniors are able to use Thunder Bay Inn’s Senior Information Technology training cafe to learn about computer basics, staying safe online, connecting with people and every day use. The facility is open Wednesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The idea of an internet cafe was initiated last October with 10 seniors, four Northern Michigan University instructors and one cafe host from the American Association of Retired Persons participating in the initial launch with students from NMU’s School of Business teaching seniors.

Thunder Bay Inn received $49,000 from Marquette County’s American Rescue Plan funds for the project.

Thunder Bay Inn co-innkeeper Mark Bevins said the NMU student interaction, enthusiasm and knowledge base working with the senior students exceeded expectations.

The training data collected from feedback cards, self-assessment forms and instructor inputs helped for development purposes. According to the training cafe summary report, feedback from NMU trainers validated the standardized method of training, which extends into subsequent train the trainers’ phase.

“Not by design, we’ve induced this exchange where good young smart adults can pass their information impart what is second nature to them to the seniors, and you create that natural respect for yoru elders in the whole reply and interaction,” Bevins said.

Bevins said his favorite part about the cafe is being able to provide an environment for seniors to come and learn more about the internet.

“I emphasize the word training because it’s not a bunch of classes or the syllabus where you get a certificate after forty-five credits, but it’s functional,” Bevins said.

He gave examples of someone learning to use Google Storage, Zoom with a grandchild in South Carolina or make a doctor’s appointment online.

“They (seniors) can get specific one-on-one training for and that’s gratifying in a goodwill perspective,” Bevins said.

The cafe also offers two session trainings for seniors to participate in a larger group setting. In the first session, seniors are able to learn computer basics, equipment safety and appropriate use of equipment and internet.

The upcoming sessions will focus on emails, staying safe while online, the internet as a whole, connecting with people and every day use, with most of the sessions being one on one with a trainer.

For more information regarding the internet cafe, call 906-345-9220 or email thunderbayinn@comcast.net.


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