As I (Joni Hansen) grow older, I am a little more hesitant to ride roller coasters since I am more cautious. However, now I have a different kind of roller coaster to experience.

As a Digital Navigator for Digital Access for All, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation, I experience a roller coaster of ups and downs. When we are assigned new clients, we contact them via email, text, or phone. Many folks are happy to hear from us and learn how we can assist them with the internet and their digital needs. They are glad that we called and are ready to jump in and share information.

Recently, an underserved client in her 60s was experiencing financial, physical, and public transportation issues and was without internet access. Together, we jumped through all the hoops to get her a device, sign her up for the internet, and provide some training. We went outside the box to discuss her local transportation needs and how she could shop with Amazon and have bulky items delivered to her front door instead of trying to carry them home on a bus. I taught her how to use her phone and apps more efficiently. She was so excited and renewed, feeling like the world had come to her.

So, there I was, up at the top of the roller coaster, feeling sassy, helpful, and loving it!

Next, I found myself on calls with other clients. We were halfway through their interview and getting them signed up when they would abruptly say, "Hey, can I call you right back?" only never to be heard from again. I understand that people might be hesitant or fearful about discussing their personal matters with strangers. In those moments, I felt like I was at the bottom of the roller coaster, eagerly waiting to climb back to the top.

This cycle is typical of customer service, and Digital Navigators must accept the ups and downs, the wins and the losses, and move forward. I love helping people, assisting them, and getting them up-to-date online. Being a Digital Navigator is truly a rewarding journey, and every twist and turn on this roller coaster reaffirms my passion for making a positive impact in people's lives.


To learn more about Joni Hansen's work as a Digital Navigator, listen to The Patterson Foundation's Beyond The Blog podcast, Strengthening Digital Access in the Suncoast Through Digital Navigation. In it, Joni joins Kiarra Louis for a conversation about her efforts to close the digital access gaps that exist in the Suncoast by helping individuals and families obtain low-cost digital connectivity, devices, skills, and support.


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