EDMONTON -- What started as a good deed by a Spruce Grove family has shown a growing need for technology in seniors homes.

“It came about by accident and I’m so happy it did because now we have helped hundreds and hope to get that technology into any hands that need it,” said Emily Jenks, founder of Project Joy.

‘Project Joy’ provides long-term care facilities with devices to allow residents in isolation to connect with their families.

“It’s been great to hear the stories and how it’s helped all of them really as well as the families that have been able to be in contact with ones that they’re worried about,” Jenks said.

They’ve donated 30 devices so far. It may not seem like a lot, but Jenks said one device goes a long way.

”Each device helps between 20 to 40 people,” she said.

Project Joy is now expanding to help seniors in Red Deer and Calgary.

”We have our first appointment in Calgary at one of the hardest hit centres over there,” said Jenks.

They have helped residents in four facilities and are ready to drop-off devices at two more this week.

“We have more nursing homes on our wait list and we need devices desperately this week to fill all of the requests,” said Stephanie Camilleri, a volunteer with Project Joy.

Project Joy

They’re looking for tablets or phones, not older than 4 years old. They can be dropped off at several different locations in the area.

Visit our website and look for the address and see which one’s most convenient for them and they can bring their used devices to these locations, put them in the donation bin,” Camilleri said.

Only about a third of the devices that have been donated so far have been able to be used in seniors homes.

“Because of what the software is and what we need to be able to get the seniors Facetiming or messaging or Google Duo-ing,” said Jenks.

However, most of the unusable devices have also been put to good use. Project Joy has donated them to an organization that helps foster children.

“Two young boys were not able to do school and it was, they were living in a hotel with their great-grandmother and entrenched in poverty so we were so happy that we had some that could meet their requirements,” Jenks said.

Although Project Joy started in response to COVID-19, Jenks believes there was always a need for access to technology.

”Whether they are isolated because of mobility issues, because of distance where family is, even just the fact that a lot of people don’t get an opportunity to see their loved ones in care homes.”