ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Thelma Bruce is the vice president of the National Council for Negro Women in St. Petersburg.

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Spectrum News caught up with her at the community tech house on 18th Avenue South, where she explained why she started going there in the first place.

“We have senior members and many of them didn’t know how to use computers,” she said.

Not a big deal — until the pandemic hit.

The group used to meet in person at the historic Fanye Ayer Ponder House, but COVID changed that.

And that’s when knowing how to use the computer became a must.

“We were able to come up here to the tech house and she would give us information and show us how to do whatever it was we needed to do,” Bruce said of Lynn Johnson, the council’s secretary and also the founder of Community Tech House, which she opened early on in the pandemic.

“I was actually laid off of my job and instead of going back into corporate America, I found the need to help others in the community understand technology,” Johnson said.

At the time, Lynn also owned a hair salon, which she had to close, but she used the space to start her new venture. It included Zoom meetings, job searches and even signing up for the COVID vaccine.

“It was conquering the technology barriers, removing that fear of using the computer,” she said.

It has allowed Bruce and other members of the council to understand and thrive in their new virtual world.