Prevalent Geek

Stuff that matters

Seniors who are social distancing to stay healthy during the pandemic are now gaining much-needed companionship, thanks to ultra-loud, easy-to-use devices that connect them directly to loved ones.

The Dreamweaver Foundation has provided 300 free Facebook Portals to seniors in nursing care homes in Nebraska and Iowa—and the grateful reactions have ranged from “tears of joy” to an overwhelming sense of relief.

Most seniors who received a Portal were connected to loved ones with a clear picture and sound for the first time in months.

The eight-year-old Omaha-based nonprofit usually grants wishes to seniors, like hot-air balloon rides or race car driving, but all that stopped when COVID-19 hit.

“We still wanted to serve seniors in a special way” said Cheri Mastny, Dreamweaver Foundation executive director. “Many families had been resorting to window visits or calls on smartphones which can be both expensive and difficult for seniors to operate.”

With a Portal, the buttons are super large, so it’s very easy to touch and use. It has a big subwoofer speaker in the back, so the sound is much better for someone who is hard of hearing. Calls can be made seamlessly to and from smartphones and tablets.

“My grandma was a lucky recipient of a Portal and I could Facebook chat with her. It was the first time I had seen her in months,” said Jill Sauser Hamilton. “I can’t tell you how happy this gift has made her. Her daily video chats with our family give her something to look forward to.”

“Residents are definitely missing their families,” said Teala Ward, a certified nursing assistant at Lincoln’s Sumner Place. “I set them up and add every family member possible.”

Since seniors began using them, Dreamweaver has been overwhelmed with requests for more, so they launched a fundraising campaign to purchase more of the Portals. Help them deliver family connections at DreamWeaver.org, and watch the local news coverage below…