Cox Communications awarded a $300,000 grant to San Diego Oasis, a nonprofit organization on a mission to change the way people experience aging and pursue vibrant, healthy, productive, and meaningful lives through education and community service. This gift will empower San Diego Oasis to create the Oasis Innovation Center, a collaboration hub which will focus on the adoption of innovative technology for older adults, relevant to older adult wellness, healthcare, and lifelong learning needs, as well as provide a virtual technology series in the interim. This is one of the largest grant awards from Cox Communications in California to a single nonprofit.
“We know how important it is for older adults to be comfortable with technology and the internet as 70% report using it throughout the day,” said Sam Attisha, senior vice president and region manager for Cox Communications in California. “The Innovation Center is an important community collaboration between Oasis and Cox to help older adults adopt technology that will improve their quality of life, such as telehealth, enable them to successfully age in place, and continue connecting them in new ways with those they care about most.”
The Oasis Innovation Center will be among the first of its kind in the United States and the only one in the state of California. It will be located in Grossmont Center in La Mesa and will also provide distance learning and technical support virtually.
“Our goal is to create a sustainable and scalable model with technology adoption and innovation to transform the experience of aging,” says Simona Valanciute, president and CEO of San Diego Oasis. “Thanks to Cox Communications and their generous gift, seniors around the region will have access to technology training and programs to continue stimulating their minds and providing a social outlet now and when it is safe again to gather in person.”
The Oasis Innovation Center will offer technology classes and workshops, technology demonstrations, a “Tech Help Bar” for in-person and online tech support, a telehealthcare center, and research studies relevant to supporting the needs of the community of older adults. The Innovation Center will also include a Cox Smart Home education hub, which will highlight how older adults can use smart technologies in their home to live more independently, stay connected to family and friends, improve their quality of life and wellness, and lower hospital readmissions.
At the onset of the shelter-in-place orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March 2020, the leaders at the nonprofit San Diego Oasis had to make very quick decisions on how to continue to deliver their classes and workshops virtually. Until then, all of their classes were delivered in-person at more than 40 locations throughout San Diego County.
Although San Diego Oasis’ mission is to change the way people experience aging, adjusting to a 100% fully online environment was a big change and risk. The team trained and coached their professors and experts in history, humanities, language, technology, art, finance, fitness, and more to bring hundreds of presentations online. It has paid off for the nonprofit, in ways they could never imagine, and created a nationally recognized virtual senior center, replacing their physical community presence temporarily. San Diego Oasis has seen positive growth in their class attendance and this grant will allow them to further serve those who not only have embraced the online environment but also provide confidence to other older adults who are trying to adapt to technology. “Our popular Senior Tech Fair held every fall has proven to be a tremendous value to older adults in the region. The Oasis Innovation Center will allow us to expand these programs and workshops on a more consistent basis, reach more seniors, and boost confidence in technology use among older adults,” said Valanciute.
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation was already an epidemic among seniors. “Studies show social isolation can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and can cause debilitating health issues in persons age 55 and up,” said Valanciute. “Online learning and socialization are critical for mental health and wellness in the months to come. This grant from Cox Communications enables us to advance our programs and expand inclusion to San Diego County seniors, which is an effective method to combat social isolation.”