Iwilei, HAWAII - Technology can help keep people connected, but there are some seniors who struggle with computer skills. A free summer class can change that- in more ways than one. 

Eighty-three-year-old Erna Cabral is happy to be here. She's sitting in front of a computer in a room full of seniors, on a break from her lessons. "We're learning how to use the computer and how to put programs in the computer and how to delete them," she says.

She's in a class that teaches seniors age 55 and older the basics of computer use. It's put on by Carole Kai Charities, using the funds raised from Great Aloha Run entry fees. They teach about 600 seniors each summer.

Volunteer organizer Rene Mansho details some of what they learn: "Whether it's opening it, or how to search the Internet for information. People tell them to sign up online. They go, 'What is that, online?'"

Volunteer instructors Allen Liang and Shane Tajima don't just show them how to get on the Internet, but also, how to stay safe from online thieves. Mansho adds, "We're teaching them cyber safety. 'Don't click on this or that. Those are viruses and scams.'"

These skills mean a lot to many of these students. Some needs to be tech-savvy, to stay independent. Mansho says "a lot of them apply for part time jobs. But they can't get the job, because they need computer knowledge."

Others enjoy the friendships. "For 17 summers, we've had friends who come back, get a refresher course, and at the end of summer we have an Aloha Luncheon," says Mansho.

"I've met different people and enjoyed their company," reflects Cabral, who is here just for the sheer joy. "I want to learn what's out in the world; to get involved I'm learning to use the computer."

No matter what the reason, people keep racing to sign up for Great Aloha Run Computer Class.

They offer other classes as well: basic cell phone classes (you must bring your own Iphone or Android phone), and intermediate computer classes for those who have completed the basic class. This is the only free computer class in the state, according to Carole Kai Charities, Inc. 

The classes are in Iwilei, at 418 Kuwili Street, Room 102.

Class times for July and August are:
July 1, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31 
August 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14
9 -11 a.m.
12 - 2 p.m.
2:30 - 4:30 p.m. 

August 15 Aloha Luncheon 

Reservations for the classes must be made by contacting Rene Mansho at (808) 528-7388 or rene@greataloharun.com

If you missed it this year, please try again next year!