Good Neighbors: Tricia Cardillo

Each year, our Good Neighbor Awards honor some of the dedicated neighbors who volunteer their time to help seniors and people with disabilities get the resources and support they need to age and thrive in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are delighted to honor Tricia as our 2017 Good Neighbor Honoree for our Goldsmith Vision and Hearing Initiative.

Tricia “encourages participants who have never been on a computer before to overcome their fear of the unknown in a supportive and nonjudgmental way”

Tricia Cardillo shows clients at the SteppingStone Presentation Adult Day Health Center how to use the Internet. What she likes most about her task are the person she meets. “The participants know my name now and they know we’re going to work together.  They look forward to being with me, and I look forward to being with them. I make it a point to walk around and greet everyone when I come in,” said Tricia. 

SteppingStone serves older adults and seniors with multiple chronic conditions. All but one client is funded through Medi-Cal Optional Benefit program. When the government raised the eligibility requirements for the Option program, SteppingStone began serving clients who require heavier care, explained Nicole Clause, the Center’s director. “We offer medication management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, mental health services, and personal care, as well as our activities program.”

Tricia volunteers as a computer coach, coming in every Wednesday morning to help clients use the center’s one computer. They check their email, connect to Facebook, and watch their favorite TV programs. Some participants use the computer to search job opportunities.

“They want to be aware of the job market even though they know they can’t get a job. Others enjoy completing surveys, or playing word games online.  Mahjong is very popular.”

Because many participants are vision impaired, the font on the keyboard and the monitor are greatly enlarged. Though the monitor has touch screen access, some activities require typing. “I encourage them to do their own typing, although they do lean on me. I know stretching (to touch the letters) is good for them.”

Some enjoy the matchmaking sites.

Tricia usually stands ready to trouble shoot when people are on the computer, but this is one time she makes it a practice to step away to “give them some privacy and a sense of independence.”

She doesn’t step away when someone goes on YouTube. In fact, she makes sure to be on hand.

“I don’t want them to be isolated, so when someone listens to music or a program, I listen too – we have double headphones – than we can talk about it.”

It was out of concern for hearing-impaired seniors that Tricia requested the center purchase those double headphones – just one of the reasons she was nominated for the Good Neighbor Award, said LaNay Eastman, the connector for the Community Living Campaign’s Vision & Hearing Initiative. 

Tricia began volunteering at SteppingStone in April 2016, soon after she and her husband moved here from Toronto for her husband’s job. She does not hold an H-1B visa, so she volunteers. “I‘d like to work, I was the program coordinator in a long term care home, something like SteppingStone. I wanted to stay active in my field, so I volunteer here.”

In describing Tricia, Center Director Clause wrote “she is patient, kind and respectful to all.  She encourages participants who have never been on a computer before to overcome their fear of the unknown in a supportive and nonjudgmental way. … We appreciate and applaud Tricia’s faithful volunteer service here every Wednesday morning.”

Community Living Campaign’s Goldsmith Vision and Hearing Initiative works to reduce isolation for seniors with hearing and/or vision challenges by providing accessible technology training, neighborhood outreach, and increasing accessibility of meetings and events. The initiative is supported by a generous grant from the United Way of the Bay Area and was developed by CLC Connector LaNay Eastman. For more information or to volunteer, contact LaNay at  or by calling 415-821-1003, ext. 111.

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