Cape Coral Computer Club keeps members connected

Randy Kambic
 |  Special to Fort Myers News-Press

Prior to the pandemic, if the word virus came up, it probably involved a computer’s health.

And while the term often references COVID-19 these days, relying on a computer to connect with friends and family, work from home, stream entertainment and conduct a variety of other online activities is even more important than ever. 

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It’s in this environment the not-for-profit Cape Coral Computer Club relaunched its weekly meetings in a virtual manner last month. Wednesday afternoon sessions during busy season include social time, presentations by members on key topics and Q&As. Member benefits include being able to access resources and archived materials, and obtaining discounts on computer products and software programs. 

The club immediately adapted when COVID-19 hit, holding its last end-of-season meeting in April via Zoom instead of in person at the Lake Kennedy Center. Club President Gary Eidson said they are looking into expanding their capacity for potential new members and their virtual attendance at meetings by increasing the number of hosts. The club, which has 70-plus members, also provides advice on many digital fronts including operating iPhones, tablets and notepads, and using new or upgraded products and software. 

Nate and Donna McClure, originally from southwest Michigan, were looking for assistance in migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 soon after joining the club last year.

“Members showed us how to do it,” said Nate who had IT support for much of his 30-plus years as a public safety practitioner, including running a 911 call center, and then as a consultant in the same field before retiring. “They’ve also filled in some holes on how to use some other Microsoft products. We work together to expand our knowledge.”

“I fell out of the technology loop the instant I retired, and the club is a great source to help me catch up with the latest developments,” said member Pat Barsse.

Eidson, a retired sales executive originally from the Boston area, said he had a working knowledge of computers when he moved to the Cape in 2016 from North Naples and joined the club a year later. 

“I wanted to learn more,” he said.

While members miss in-person meetings, plenty of pleasantries are exchanged across the online platform and some members put themselves in virtual backdrops ― like in outer space or framed by happy faces ― or alter their appearance with digital hats, moustaches and more. 

Eidson particularly credits the club’s program chairman Ron Ross; Dave Henderson as “the linchpin, our head guru” for “technical, structure and communications for our operations”; Tom Klein who “makes sure we’re set up for Zoom”; and Barsse as “our chat manager.”

“We help overcome frustration,” said Henderson.

They hope to begin conducting online classes in January. Eidson added they’d like to return to in-person meetings someday, maybe in combination with Zoom events, and to establish a scholarship program to assist Cape youngsters.

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