Melanie Waxman Talks Tech During COVID-19

It’s all in a day for Melanie Waxman, Technology Concierge at the Myerberg Center. For the past 2 ½ years, she has managed Myerberg’s Tech-Knowledge Hub, helping older adults with their tech devices through workshops and one-on-one consultations.

Yet since the Covid-19 pandemic, Melanie has taken on an even bigger role, adapting her work to the new reality. So how is she doing? We caught up with this mother of two teenage boys who spoke about tech, the Myerberg and COVID-19.


How has your work changed?

Technology is key to getting through this crisis. On the one hand, virtual programming can help alleviate social isolation, particularly for those who are living alone. Since we closed, in the past few weeks we had to put our entire agency online, including our fitness classes, humanities and arts programs. To get there, we needed to train our instructors on how to use technology to virtually teach and interact. They are getting creative. For example, one of our art instructors recently put together a YouTube about drawing for her students.


You also added new workshops?

We want to help older adults find the resources they need. We recently held an in-depth virtual course on navigating instacart and Grubhub (Apps That Deliver). In addition to walking through how to order, we talked about service fees, showed people how to change stores in instacart, how to tip and how to navigate when there is a mistake in the order.


What is your suggestions for instacart mistakes?

The wait times can be incredibly long if you call. We discussed how to have an online conversation with instacart support. And we told them to make sure to take a screen shot of the resolution so you have recourse if they don’t follow through.


Other courses?

We held an in-depth virtual workshop about Amazon and Amazon Prime. We are also teaching participants how to sign into their apps, such as Netflix and Hulu, on their big screens. We show them  how to delineate between a free trial for a month or a week and how to cancel a subscription.

This week we are offering a Discover FaceBook class as well as general shopping on-line.

In addition, we are helping them find games to download.


You still hold one-on-one support with your clients?

Yes. One of the things many of my clients wanted were tips about how to use Zoom. Many people didn’t realize that others were going to see them and they needed to think about how they looked. We have also worked on transferring information to other devices and “How to…” questions.


Any unique programs you’ve put together?

We held a virtual intergenerational Seder between Krieger Schechter Day school and residents of Weinberg Woods. In the past the two groups got together, but this year I worked with Jennifer Osterweil, Myerberg’s Assistant Director of Programs. We delivered food and the Haggadah we put together outside the homes of the residents who were participating. We ran the Seder on Zoom. It was a huge success.


Have your clients taught you anything – tech or otherwise — during this crisis?

YES! They teach me everyday!! I was taught how to do a second type of screenshot on my MacBook this week!

On another note, my clients are the most gracious, kind and respectful people that I know. They are constantly checking on me.  This week I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the child of a mom I have been working with to help them communicate better— and alleviate the parent-child frustrations in teaching.


Have you learned any tech tips from your kids?

When I first started at the Myerberg, I was given some help from my children and my husband, more recently, they actually ask me for help.


When you are not working, what tech do you rely the most on?

I am a FaceBook girl and a texting maven.  At this time, I am utilizing Zoom and FaceTime for coffee chats, happy hours, meetings and catch-ups.


What is your best tech tip?

I actually have three:

  • If you scope out a technology you want to learn, take a class and DO NOT STOP PRACTICING! 
  • Send a text if you want to get in touch with your grandchildren and ask to schedule a call that suits them.
  • Take a break if you get frustrated.  Come back to try again…and again!

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