Grant to help decrease digital divide for seniors with print newsletter


Photo by Devin Ankeney

Steve Schabl, the executive director of Oxford Seniors, said he looks forward to reading each issue of the newsletter in print.

By Devin Ankeney

Age-Friendly Oxford is adapting to the digital age–by printing a newsletter.

The Greater Oxford Community Foundation has awarded the organization, formed in 2017 as a network of organizations concerned with supporting the well-being of “residents of all ages,”  a $5,400 grant to print physical newsletters. 

“We wanted to help contribute to communication in our community across the digital divide,” said Jennifer Heston-Mullins, whose organization is part of the Age-Friendly Oxford initiative. “There are quite a few people in our community that are not as connected, technology-wise, either because of access, or comfort level or skill level with technology.”

Age-Friendly Oxford has a mailing list of over 350 people who prefer paper newsletters. Without the newsletter, many people on the mailing list would struggle to learn of events in the Oxford area, she said.

“They needed some financial help to make that happen so that they would be able to reach even more seniors,” Betsy Hope, executive director of the foundation, said. “It’s connecting seniors to the services and the programs they need.”

Many older residents don’t have the same access to the internet and computers as younger residents and prefer a physical newsletter to learn what’s going on in Oxford, according to  Heston-Mullins at Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center. 

“We are committed to trying to help keep people connected,” Heston-Mullins said.

Steve Schabl, the executive director of Oxford Seniors, said he looks forward to reading each newsletter issue in print.

“I still have a hard copy of the Journal-News!” he said, laughing. “What I enjoy most about it is the exposure to current events.”

The grant to Age-Friendly Oxford was among $34,000 in grants the Greater Oxford Community Foundation awarded to ten local nonprofits during the most recent funding cycle.

“We’re kind of like a savings account for the community,Betsy Hope, the executive director, said. “We try and help lots of different segments and to help to solve problems in the community.”

The largest grant of the cycle, $10,000, was to Family Promise of Butler County.

According to Linda Smith, the executive director, this grant will enable the organization to prevent homelessness for families in the Oxford area by paying for temporary housing. Without this grant, she said, it would not be possible.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever received funding to assist the Oxford community directly,” Smith said. “It’s a huge grant, it’s a huge need and this is a great way to assist the Oxford community in helping those families maintain their housing and get stabilized.”