Free tech support for low-income 65+, navigating vaccine registration

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Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 6:49 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A University of Florida graduate is helping older adults better navigate technology as the pandemic continues.

Founder and CEO of Orchard, Ming Yang, was inspired to create the service in 2018 after studying computer engineering at UF. She said she was constantly helping her mother and grandmother navigate their tech devices.

“My mom couldn’t even apply for health insurance,” she said. “I ended up having to drive 300 miles back home -- back down to South Florida -- every other weekend ... and that was a big struggle. I just thought -- there definitely has to be people around here that can teach her to use the technology better.”

When she graduated, Orchard was born-- a technology support and coaching service for older adults. TV20 featured Orchard in 2019 when it was first starting up but the company has since revamped.

Tech support employees used to do in-house visits, but since the pandemic hit, they have gone virtual and they’re now serving people across the world.

“They are actually in more need of this support than ever because now technology is their only connection with the world ... with their family. So, this really shifted our focus,” Yang said.

Recently, Orchard introduced a free assistance to low-income older adults to help them with the vaccine signup process.

“With a lot of places closed down for in-person visits, they can’t even walk into a center and knock on the door and say ‘hey where can I get this vaccine?’,” Yang said. She said it is her goal to aid those who may not have other resources.

To qualify for the free service, you must be 65 years or older and receive federal aid or earn an annual income of 300% below the poverty line for your state.

“This is not about tech support or starting a company,” Yang said. “This is about a movement to close the digital literacy gap that will help our older Americans do more with technology and experience more in life.”

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