Life is good for senior computer whiz

SeniorNet leader Marilyn Goodwin is helping over 50s flourish in front of a computer screen.

Marilyn Goodwin is not your average SeniorNet member. When she joined the Warkworth branch of the non-profit organisation that teaches technology to over 50s, she'd already been using computers for decades.

"I went to accompany my husband in 2011," she says. "I'd been using computers for 30 years, but I learned something new in the first 15 minutes."

Marilyn was an adult student at Massey University just as PCs were coming in and her daughter’s boyfriend was an IT expert.

"When I bought my first computer, he said 'Now Marilyn, don't try to do anything for a few days - just play. That's your best way of learning.'"

Four months after joining SeniorNet, Marilyn received a request to become a tutor and didn't hesitate.

"I joined the committee the following year, they were just such a lovely group of people. I was treasurer and membership secretary for six years. I'm still the membership secretary. I became a regional rep three years ago and then I became chair of the federation committee in May last year."

Although each of the 50-plus branches of SeniorNet is a separate entity, there is a national federation to share information and funding and unite the groups.

There are around 450 members of the Warkworth branch. "A lot of people come, learn what they need and then leave. But we also have our long-term supporters – we rarely see them, but they've been members for the 20-odd years we've been in operation."

AMI is proud to have partnered with SeniorNet to support older New Zealanders to build confidence to do more online, including managing their insurance *.

"Fifty-plus is the age we pitch ourselves at, but there is no cut off - we have plenty of members in their 40s," says Marilyn. "We're still teaching a lot of basic skills. It's amazing how many 40-year-olds have never used a computer. Sometimes it's an older couple where one partner has died, and they were the ones who did the online banking and other household admin.

"We have a very active learning centre in Warkworth with more than 20 tutors and the wealth of knowledge across that group is huge. Each has their area of specialty. Mine is Microsoft programmes. The amount I've learned in the last 11 years has really spread my knowledge tremendously. You just don’t know what you don't know. It blew me away how much I learned when I started with SeniorNet."

Marilyn's role is completely voluntary and at 79, she's busier than ever. "I do at least 20 hours a week," she says. "If you ask my husband, he'd probably say about 50."

Marilyn credits SeniorNet for keeping her brain active, but also for helping her forge relationships.

"Nowadays, nearly all of my friends are in SeniorNet so it's a very social gathering. I just love it. I'm not planning on retiring or resigning any time soon."

According to Marilyn, every SeniorNet member is a success story. "One recent example is a teacher who joined one of our four-week courses. After the first half an hour she said, 'I don’t think I can do this,' but by the end of the course, she was beaming and wanted to sign up for another."

Marilyn’s second passion is gardening. "I just love seeing a garden transform. We started with a bare patch of pebbles and now it's looking really attractive. I do have a third passion - meeting friends for coffee. Warkworth is such a friendly place to live. Life is good."

* AMI will pay the 12-month SeniorNet membership fee for any AMI customer over the age of 50 that joins before September 2022. Simply mention you are an AMI customer at your local SeniorNet Learning Centre and AMI will take care of the rest.