Teenager Helps the Elderly with Their Tech Questions

Luke Igel works with Cathy Pass at The Lodge.

Luke Igel, an 18-year-old student at Providence Academy and the founder of the Advice for Your Device initiative, has always been the tech guy at his home. “My grandpa always comes over when there’s an issue with his iPad,” he says. Noticing the popularity of The Lodge (located next to the Chaska Community center, serving folks ages 55 and over) and aware of the broad applicability of his grandfather’s demand of technical assistance, Igel decided to extend his service beyond his family.

In the spring of 2016, he approached Joan Seedorf, recreation supervisor of the Chaska Parks & Recreation, about his idea. Seedorf recognized the value in Igel’s proposal and collaborated with him for a trial program. “I started visiting The Lodge every week with a laptop and my grandpa’s printer in hand and did one-on-one sessions with anyone in need—typing and printing the instructions, so they can keep track of everything,” Igel says.

While the joy of problem-solving and the practical benefits for his “clients” inspire Igel, the connection forged with the participants is what Igel cherishes the most. “Once you become part of the community at each location, the actual tech side is secondary,” he says.

After almost two years, the program has made inroads in bridging the digital divide between the younger and older generations, having addressed common problems, such as downloading apps, keeping track of passwords and sending messages.

Igel’s efforts are appreciated. “Luke is fantastic.  I really admire him,” Cathy Pass says.

“The program is a great resource for us seniors. I did not feel intimidated at all in this environment, nor did I feel a generation gap,” Frieda Olin says.

The program is available at The Lodge, Summerwood of Chanhassen and the Chanhassen Senior Center every Wednesday during the summer with some additional sessions during breaks in the school year. Igel and five other volunteers, who he recruited from his school, cycle among these locations to provide assistance. For more information and scheduling, visit adviceforyourdevice.com.