Teens Teaching Tech: Writer Encounters a Fabulous Find at a Favorite Place
I recently encountered a fabulous find at a favorite place. Thus, I discovered “a match made in heaven” at a haven that provides peace, hospitality and beauty.
It was, in fact, more than one match made in heaven.
One of those matches spans the digital divide – a chasm that separates the tech savvy from the tech tangled. I count myself among the latter, a late adapter to the computer, the cloud and the ever-expanding universe of hand-held devices.
Another pairing bridges the generation gap – disparate ages separated by years, history, values and life experiences.
The third mating creates a connection between the community and an incredible building that serves it and belongs to it.
It doesn’t take much for me to veer into one of my favorite places on Earth, the Ronald H. Roberts Temecula Public Library.
The view is spectacular, the art is incredible and Ron Roberts – a five-time mayor of Temecula who almost single-handedly won the state funds needed to build that amazing facility – was a dear friend.
Roberts was a legendary public servant who died a tragic death in February 2019 after a fall left him with severe head injuries. To me, that library is akin to holy ground. Two items that I purchased and subsequently donated to the city – a poster and a painting – still anchor wall space there.
This visit to the library came as a result of an invite from Kaden Han, a senior at Chaparral High School and the president of the Heart of Temecula Leo Club.
Leo Clubs are an offshoot of Lions Club International, a service organization that was founded in 1917 in Chicago and has since grown to more than 1.3 million members in about 200 countries and territories.
Leos are the club’s youth affiliates. There are more than 7,600 Leo Clubs and about 180,000 members who oversee approximately 40,000 projects.
The Heart of Temecula Leo Club sponsors Teens Teaching Tech, an effort launched in 2016 by Maddie Lascola, who at the time attended Linfield Christian School in Temecula. Maddie Lascola recently graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in data science. Her mother, Beth Lascola, is still active with the tech teen program.
The program provides free individualized tutoring on computers, cell phones, laptops, iPads, websites, video software, tablets and other technical things. I dropped in on the Tuesday, Oct. 17 session, when 18 high school students clustered around eight adult “clients” – who ranged from their 40s to their 90s and brought a range of concerns, questions and quandaries.
The teens were expert in their advice and exceedingly patient with technoidiots like me who have barely mastered email and are still struggling to graduate from flip phones to smart devices.
“It’s really fun,” Beth Lascola said as she described the enjoyment that the teens derive from teaching. “They’re very patient. They’re kind. They get a lot of satisfaction out of it. I’ve never seen a single eye-roll here.”
The program asks prospective clients to register by calling 951-331-8861. Future sessions are scheduled Nov. 21, Dec. 19, Jan. 16, Feb. 20, March 19, April 16 and May 21 from 4-6 p.m. each night.
The adults seem eager to learn and thankful for the help they receive.
Sharon Mack, a 67-year-old Temecula resident, got the technical help she needed to start organizing a nonprofit group she’s launching. She vowed to return when she starts offering services to needy women.
“You guys were amazing,” Mack told her teen tutors as she gathered her belongings and headed for the door. “I really feel confident now.”
Oscar Murdock, 91, has repeatedly sought help from the students since the program began.
“They show me a lot,” he said. “I have no one at home to teach me.”
Lisa Boonstra, a 73-year-old Fallbrook resident, was appreciative of the advice she received on how to handle her misbehaving iPhone.
“I had to have three young men help me with it,” she said. “They really worked it all out.”
The Temecula Unified School District said its students must provide 40 hours or more of community service to at least one nonprofit group in order to graduate. Most of the Leos exceed that obligation many times over.
Jonathan Tafoya estimates that he’ll accrue more than 400 hours by the time he graduates from Great Oak High School. A junior, Tafoya is the president of the technology program and he’s involved in a wide range of other school and community activities.
He said it is emotionally rewarding to share his technical skills with others.
“It’s a great program,” Tafoya said. “We do seemingly small things that have a very big impact. I’m so proud to be part of it.”
Beth Lascola said the city and its librarians love the program and the free services it provides to the community. In turn, the amazing city of Temecula offers the group free use of its library meeting room.
“It’s a match made in heaven,” she said.