By Tim Kelly
Michael Doliszny wanted to do more.
Already an Eagle Scout, having completed a technology project to earn the Boy Scouts’ highest rank and honor, Michael decided to take things to the next level.
The 18-year-old senior at St. Augustine Prep developed a free smartphone app called Plug Find, which enables electric and hybrid vehicle drivers to find locations where they may recharge their batteries. The app earned his Eagle medal.
It could have ended right there with Michael moving on to other pursuits. However, a situation came up which left him wanting to keep going.
A technology fan most of his life, Michael was surprised last May when he attended a Memorial Day event and met several veterans who clearly were not fans. They were unable to deal with technology or were resistant to it, largely because they were raised in a different era.
These veterans, who had already given so much to their country, did not possess many of the basic skills needed in today’s technology-driven society, Michael explained.
To combat the issue, Michael was able to partner with Atlantic Cape Community College and several veterans’ organizations to initiate and help launch free computer training classes for veterans.
“Some older veterans struggle with computers, and beyond that, some resent that they must use them more and more in their daily lives,” Michael said. “They feel that computers and digital technology are being forced on them.”
He realized that no matter how innovative or helpful the app, it was useless if people were unable to perform the steps needed for the app to do its job.
“I never knew it was a problem,” Michael said. “For many older veterans, it’s a big problem.”
In response, Michael initiated a collaboration with the US Department of Veterans Affairs-WVAMC; Atlantic Cape Community College; and the local volunteer veterans council (CVAC-Cape May) to create skills class.
Together, the organizations developed a program with a customized need-based curriculum. They designed it to help improve the unemployment/underemployment rates of older veterans throughout Cape May County, teach them to access their VA benefits online, apply for jobs with local businesses online and much more.
The first class will be held on Saturday, January 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the computer lab at the Cape May Courthouse ACCC facility at 341 Court House South Dennis Rd., in Courthouse. Lunch will be provided.
Registration is required. To do so, contact Nelson Gonzalez at 609-413-1451. Two other classes will be held, after which Michael’s promotional flier says vets will learn tricks, shortcuts and basic techniques to master computer use “with ease.”
When he’s not earning scouting and scholastic accolades, Michael is an avid surfer, skater and snowboarder. He’s currently sorting through his many possibilities for his college selection. His predominate interest is gaining acceptance to a college that offers a competitive program specializing in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Engineering.
“I am very proud of all four of our children who each have their own special talents,” Michael’s mom Kristina said. She and husband Robert are also the parents of a son Evan, 16, a St. Augustine junior, and twin 14-year-old girls Katherine and Lauren, Ocean City Intermediate School students.
“In Michael’s case, his specialty is technology and computer science. He wants to do something (with his tech skills) and he’s accomplished that. He has done a remarkable job.”
He’s not content for this year’s computer classes for vets to be a one-year thing. ACCC officials estimated that a minimum of $10,000 would be needed to pay salaries to professors and cover administrative costs and facilities. Michael wrote a solicitation letter to local community organizations businesses and elected officials in order to keep the program going.
“For every $500 we raise, we can help educate 10 veterans,” he wrote.
Those with questions can reach him by calling 609-425-4540, and those wishing to donate should send checks to Michael Doliszny and cite “Eagle Project/CVAC -Vet Course” on the memo line in care of Kristina and Robert Doliszny, KW Realty, 1 Atlantic Ave, Ocean City, NJ 08226. Tax receipts will be provided as well as documentation of the project’s non-profit status.
“I am grateful for the generosity and financial support of this program, as we are grateful for the service of our veterans. This is an opportunity to give back to our veterans by helping them in a (practical) way,” Michael said.