Cyber-Savvy Grandma, Microsoft Bring Technology to Colorado Seniors

GREELEY, Colo., Aug. 11, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today dedicated the Carlyne Orr Workforce Development Lab at Aims Community College, Greeley, Colo., in honor of a Colorado resident and winner of the first Microsoft Technology Award for older adults. In March, Orr, 74, from Lakewood, received the award in recognition of her commitment to lifelong learning and to the use of technology and the significant impact it has had on her life.

Microsoft established the computing lab as part of its continuing effort to help bridge the “digital and generational divides” and provide seniors with the technology skills needed to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. The state-of-the-art computer classroom was made possible by a grant to Aims Community College of computer hardware and software and curriculum support worth over $65,000, including multimedia computers and Microsoft product libraries. In addition to re-employment training, the college will offer computer literacy and multigenerational learning programs that will allow seniors to share their knowledge and skills with their community.

“Carlyne’s story is just one example of how technology can positively impact the lives of people of all ages,” said Craig Spiezle, director of the Microsoft Senior Initiative. “Through this lab, more Colorado older adults will be able to realize the benefits that technology can offer to enhance their community, creativity and employability.”

In addition to the Carylne Orr Workforce Development Lab at Aims’ Greeley campus, a second facility will be created at Aims’ Loveland site. Through this effort, Aims will offer a selection of computer classes to seniors at a variety of skill levels. In addition, Green Thumb, a national nonprofit organization that provides computer technology training to older and disadvantaged adults, will select seniors to attend a free seven- to eight-week training class where they will receive computer and re-employment training. Including both locations and the commitment by Green Thumb, Aims hopes to train hundreds of seniors in the first year of the program.

“It’s important to establish computer programs specifically geared toward older adults, supporting and encouraging their interests so they can realize the benefits of technology,” said Dr. Paul Thompson, president of Aims Community College. “We’re proud to be part of this effort to celebrate Carlyne’s achievements, proving that learning and growth can happen at any age.”

After a debilitating head injury in 1980, Orr was unable to walk or talk. She was forced to give up her greeting card company and enter Social Security’s Disability program. After 10 years of rehabilitation, at the age of 63, Orr re-entered the workforce when most people leave it.

Since 1990 Orr has worked with the USDA Forest Fiscal Team, where she works a minimum 32-hour week dealing with advanced software systems that account for millions of dollars annually. She received special training under the Department of Labor’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), enabling her to meet the technological challenges of the position.

“I never thought my personal experiences would affect so many people,” said Carlyne Orr, winner of the Microsoft Technology Award. “I’m excited and honored that Microsoft has created this center to help other seniors in Colorado gain the same skills to stay engaged and employed at my age.”

In addition to the Carlyne Orr Workforce Development Lab, Microsoft today announced a similar initiative, furthering its commitment to provide work-force development training to seniors in Colorado. Through a grant of computer hardware and software worth over $20,000, Microsoft, in conjunction with the City of Colorado Springs (CCS) Neighborhood Services, will create a job skills and multigenerational program for older adults.

Between the computing lab and the CCS initiative, the total value of Microsoft grants to benefit older adults in Colorado is over $100,000. The Carlyne Orr Workforce Development Lab at Aims Community College will be equipped with 18 Dell multimedia computers with 17-inch monitors that will include the Windows® 98 operating system, Microsoft Office 2000 Premium, the Microsoft Encarta® multimedia encyclopedia, Microsoft Natural® Keyboard Elite, the Microsoft IntelliMouse® Pro pointing device, Microsoft Works Suite 99, and a selection of Microsoft Press® training, curriculum and reference materials, including the newly published “Grown-Up’s Guide to Computing,” co-authored by Spiezle, and the instructional video “Opening New Windows on the World.”

In March, Microsoft was the major sponsor of the Green Thumb Prime Time Awards, an annual event that recognizes America’s outstanding older workers. It was during this ceremony that Orr was recognized as Colorado’s outstanding older worker and received the first Microsoft Technology Award for older adults.

The Microsoft Senior Initiative is a program aimed at bridging digital and generational divides by providing access to PC literacy training technology and tools for people of all ages worldwide. The initiative’s Web site, Seniors and Technology, is a resource for seniors, their families and communities about the exciting possibilities that can be realized through the use of technology.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Windows, Encarta, Natural, IntelliMouse and Microsoft Press are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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