Photo: Joni Hansen + Digital Navigator Program QR

Digital Navigator, Should I Go For It?

Posted on January 04, 2024 by Joni Hansen, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
My Digital Navigator (DN) adventure started in September 2023 when I received an email from The Patterson Foundation asking interested folks to sign up for the Digital Navigator Program. I had just started as an Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Engager and was learning my way around that part of the Digital Access for All (DA4A) initiative, which was plenty new to me. The DN experience sounded interesting and challenging. Surely, I would have a big learning curve, but I had some sort of magnetic pull to it. I decided to go ahead and sign up. I loved the idea of being on the ground floor of this new arm of DA4A.

There were many moving parts, such as working with clients, managing data, connecting with internet providers, scheduling, procuring devices in price range, training, internet speed tests, and the list goes on and on. My brain was about to explode!

Once I had a few clients under my belt, I felt comfortable. To use a country analogy, it didn't take long for the "cream to turn into butter" as I churned my way through the process, assisting clients in need.

One of my favorite clients, Tee from Arcadia, was hit by Hurricane Ian, and her family's rental home was flooded. They had to move out and live in an apartment in another county away from family and school, affecting their school-aged son. She saw the ACP engagers at the Arcadia Pop-Up Neighbor Through Laundry event and was in tears as they still had items that had not been washed since the storm. I have assisted her in following up with local DeSoto County organizations that can hopefully help her and the family. Additionally, she recently had a new internet service installed and is waiting for the service to start. Being a DN is more than just getting an internet discount for someone; we are also there to listen and point them in the direction of further assistance.

It is such a joy to assist people. I am so happy that The Patterson Foundation decided to add this component to The GAP, and I want to thank Cheri and Kiarra for their excellent leadership and guidance for this new adventure!

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