Our History – updated January 2014
At the Hornsby Council owned, Epping Creative Centre in Stanley Road, Epping, a Community Meeting for seniors interested in the formation of a Computer Club for Seniors was held on 29th March 2000. Tribute should be paid to John and Joan Addison, Ian Dawkins and Keith Hinchcliffe for their unselfish work in the establishment of Computer Pals for Seniors – Epping Inc; with Ian being our first Club President. Ian and Keith were responsible for the foundations of our administrative excellence, while John and Joan set us on a path of technical merit and engendered great enthusiasm among the 170 people at this meeting. A volunteer steering committee was endorsed to administer the formalities and within ten days of the meeting, 180 people had joined Computer Pals for Seniors – Epping Inc. and it was necessary to close the membership roll and open a waiting list for other interested seniors.
During the following months regular classes were held to train club members as volunteer tutors, while second hand furniture and computers were purchased at auction. The Epping Creative Centre where the classes were to be held was under renovation by Hornsby Council at this time, so we were most grateful to the Denistone East Uniting Church for allowing us to use their Sunday School Hall for our first lessons from early in July 2000 until the 11th September when our dedicated training room was ready for use.
Classes were limited to 10 students, each with a computer; with a tutor and up to three helpers for each class. All our tutors and training helpers are fee paying club members who enjoy helping their peers to learn about computer technology in friendly 1¼ hour lessons of nine weeks duration. As new devices and programs have become available we have also adopted the running of short courses and workshops of varying lengths.
From the beginning classes were held each week day, with two in the morning and another two each afternoon, except for Friday, when a trainer’s meeting was held.
This weekly trainer’s meeting continues to be an important part of the friendly, efficient and well coordinated running of our club with the regular opportunity for discussion, tutor training and reviewing of courses provided. This way we have always been aware of changes in technology and planned for new equipment likely to be of interest to our members.
Our Management Committee has always been involved in all aspects of the club, with many also volunteering as tutors and helpers. All Committee members are also full fee paying club members. Management Committee members are subject to annual elections and hold ultimate responsibility for the overall management and operation of the Club, while a Standing Committee with members appointed by the Management Committee, also contributes in deliberations of the joint committees.
Careful management has allowed the appropriate replacement of equipment to ensure members have timely access to the latest advancements in technology. We have provided several generations of networked personal computers, laptop computers, digital projectors, scanning devices, laser and ink jet printers, a digital camera, iPads and android tablet computers and have provided constantly updated software.
We are pleased to have kept our annual membership fee of $30 unchanged since July 2003 when they were actually decreased substantially after the successful establishment of the club. At this time the once only joining fee was increased from $10 to $15. The original course fee for a nine week course has risen incrementally from $5 at the beginning to $20 at the end of 2013. From 2015 courses from 1-3 weeks are now $5, courses from 4-6 weeks are $10 and the
7-9 week courses are $15, with the exception of the Greeting Cards and Digital Imaging Courses which are now $20. In 2016 we revised our costs and have had to restore our fees $5 for 1 lesson, $10 for 2-3 lessons, $l5 for 4-6 weeks and $20 for 7-9 weeks with the exception of Greeting Cards and Digital Imaging which are now $25 due to the extra consumables used.
At the end of 2000, with the recruitment of more volunteer trainers and helpers, the first intake of new members from the waiting list was possible, lifting membership numbers from 180 to 206. Since then, it has been possible to invite 20 new members from the waiting list to join the club at the start of each term. At times the total number of members has reached 450 with more names on the waiting list. A number of foundation members of Computer Pals for Seniors – Epping Inc. continue to enjoy their membership and some have been active volunteers since the very beginning. Newer members are always welcome to take on any position and some have done so with impressive results.
With the gradual increase in the use of tablet computers and smart phones some people have recently joined the club without availing themselves of the Basic Computing Course. However, although we do not insist, even those intending only to use these devices would find it beneficial to learn as much as possible about the basic concepts of computing.
In recognition of the latest technology trends we continue to update the courses that are made available for our members and we encourage those who are able to become tutors or helpers to offer their help to fellow members.
Almost from the beginning, there have been once per month special interest groups held to promote a number of computer related interests, including; Creative Writing, Genealogy, Digital Photography and more recently, iPads, Android Tablets and Microsoft Windows 8 Operating System. Originally HELP Sessions were held regularly, but the need for these has been replaced by workshops on a particular topic if the need is expressed. These special interest groups are available free to all club members and are a source of great enjoyment for those who choose to participate.
The welfare of our members has always been of concern and a Welfare Officer is available to maintain contact with members experiencing serious or prolonged illness, either themselves, or within their immediate family. We have been very fortunate in the caring and diligent people who have always held this position.
Particularly in the early days, a number of successful applications for community grants raised in excess of $23,000, which has all been applied, together with members funds, towards the gradual upgrading of the Club's original aged second hand equipment and the purchase of items needed to improve the quality of the training provided to our members. This material assistance through grants and donations has also contributed to the comfort, well being and safety of our members.
The majority of the software programs used on our equipment has been donated by Microsoft, through its various Community Assistance Initiatives. Without this willing assistance from Microsoft, the Club would have had to divert substantial funds from its equipment upgrading projects towards the provision of the software needs of the Club.
In accordance with the Club Constitution the President can hold office for only two consecutive years, although the other office bearers who must be re-elected annually, can stand for office without such restrictions.
The incumbent Presidents
Since the formation of Computer Pals for Seniors – Epping Inc. have been: