Barnum residents get technology help while sipping coffee

Get help with your piece of technology at this Barnum Community Education free program.

Barnum Community Ed Tech & Coffee
Marilyn and Dwayne Ehalt get advice from Roxy Olsen-Hurst and Courtney Siekert at the latest Tech & Coffee event at Chickadee Coffee House in Barnum on Nov. 5. (Teri Cadeau / tcadeau@duluthnews)
Teri Cadeau / Duluth News Tribune

Got a tech question that you can't quite figure out? If you're living in the Barnum area, there's a monthly program which might be able to help.

Barnum Community Education hosts Tech & Coffee on the first Thursday of every month from 9-10 a.m. at the Chickadee Coffee House & Deli. Community education staff teach community members how to use smartphones, Nooks, Kindles, iPads, laptops, social media and more. The free drop-by program started last fall and got rolling again recently after a break due to COVID-19.

"We thought it would be a great way to reach community members of all ages," said Barnum Community Education director Roxy Olsen-Hurst. "We have an Age to Age grant from the Northland Foundation and heard about other Age to Age schools doing this program and thought it would be fun and helpful."

At first, the program was held after school at Barnum High School. But Olsen-Hurst said they had issues using the school's guest WiFi, so they reached out to the owners of the Chickadee and got the OK to hold the event at the coffee shop.

Since they started the program, Olsen-Hurst said they've helped people with a wide-variety of issues such as adding apps to phones, organizing folders on computers, downloading books onto Nooks and helping people check their voicemail.


" Last year we had a high school student who went out to the person’s car and showed them how to sync their bluetooth," Olsen-Hurst said. "So they could listen to music and use Google Maps in the car. They were thrilled!"

Olsen-Hurst said they don't always solve the problem, but between herself and community education administrative assistant Courtney Siekert, they're usually able to at least refer the person to the right place.

"We're not professionals, we try our best," Olsen-Hurst said. "People come with their list of written out questions and write down their answers and usually walk away with a better idea at least."

That was the case on Thursday, Nov. 5, when Marilyn and Dwayne Ehalt brought their Nook to see if the community education staff could help them with a problem. Unfortunately, they weren't able to figure it out, Olsen-Hurst said, but they helped the Ehalts find contact information for Barnes & Noble, the company that sells the device, so they could seek out further information.

Tech & Coffee is free to attend and no registration is required. Face masks are required.

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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