On March 14, 2022, I was allowed to collaborate with Jumaanah Harris as we worked as consultants for Digital Access For All teams. The Digital Access For All Initiative Manager, Cheri Coryea and the Digital Access For All Initiative Consultant, Kiarra Louis, greeted me with open arms. Throughout the week, Kiarra and Cheri led us to DeSoto County so that we could talk with the local citizens and staff members that make DeSoto County what it is today.

On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Jumaanah, Cheri, Kiarra, and I drove an hour and twenty minutes to the DeSoto County Library. There, we were welcomed by Library Director Linda Waters. While Linda gave us a tour, she provided us with knowledge about the residents in DeSoto County and information about the library. After speaking with Linda, we headed to the Arcadia Housing Authority. DeSoto County Commissioner Ashley Coone greeted us. Ashley talked to us about what it was like growing up in DeSoto County and how she decided to come back to DeSoto County after college to make a change. She provided us with great insight into the residents' challenges and perspectives, which prompted us to speak to the Arcadia Housing Authority Executive Director Becky Mercer. Becky was able to tell us more about the residents that she serves within the Arcadia Housing Authority.

After we chatted with her, Jumaanah and I were able to lead a community conversation with residents of the Arcadia Housing Authority. The four residents shared their frustration with internet connections, transportation, and available resources. I enjoyed leading the community conversation the most because I could speak to residents. The four residents had so much to share, which allowed me to understand the area better. I also enjoyed the community conversation because when residents explained their concerns about things like little access to technology and resources, I saw Becky Mercer working hands-on during the conversation to help further assist residents. Watching Becky work efficiently to assist residents was eye-opening and gave me hope. After the community conversation, Becky took Jumaanah and me to a two-bedroom, two-bath vacant unit. When we entered, I was surprised to see how accommodating and modern the unit was.

Spending the day in DeSoto County was beneficial and eye-opening since I was given the opportunity to speak with local staff and residents. I am so thankful that I had such strong, flexible, and brilliant leaders from Monday to Friday, pointing me in the right direction to create a well-developed community assessment over DeSoto County. I could not have done any of it without the support and guidance from Cheri, Kiarra, my two professors from the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy, and The Patterson Foundation. I plan on using what I learned from my time in Sarasota to make a positive change in Indianapolis through advocacy and awareness.

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