“I don’t fully understand what you just said, but it doesn’t really sound like my kind of fun.”
– a skeptical (new) TGH participant
As a project contractor with Tech Goes Home, it is often challenging to describe (simply) what I do. As a former over-the-top English teacher, an eternal optimist, and a self-proclaimed Wonder Woman, I refer to our team as champions for digital inclusion. I suppose, however, my personal job description is synonymous with the work of a consultant. Our purpose is our people, and it is my humble privilege to help create whatever our participants and partners need.
I spend the majority of my days working from the comfort of my hilltop home, staring down at one of Tennessee’s most popular river destinations while poring over research and writing curricula and/or additional resources for the various courses TGH offers. I suppose this is the part that is not most people’s cup of tea, so to speak; however, as our mission continues to expand across the state, I also get the pleasure of conducting site visits and consultations for both new and established partners. With my role, I experience a fulfilling balance of remote-based retreat and boots-on-the-ground valley duty, which is any middle-aged Super Mom’s dream come true.
As a result of such a hybrid work balance, my view is much greater than “these hills they call mountains,” for with my position, I get to meet seniors like Ms. Norma, a January 2023 participant who arrived at her digital skills training class questioning her place in a society of digital natives. I get to witness the tears form when participants send their first email to friends and relatives across the country. I hear the audible gasps as together we customize their new device to accommodate various disabilities and/or vision impairments – as was the case with Ms. Norma, who simply needed a much larger cursor and enlarged text to allow her to engage in the virtual world.
I sit in virtual meetings and see the smiles and renewed senses of purpose as my team shares success stories from the field. I perceive the pride in our leadership’s voices when they announce an additional grant we have received because of the public’s faith in our mission. I read the emails from countless partners and potential future participants praising our efforts and reiterating Tennessee citizens’ thirst for digital knowledge and inclusion. I attend conferences and experience the magnitude of digital outreach. My heart and extended family grow with each greeting of “Hello, lovelies,” and I exit each encounter – virtual or in-person – feeling a bit taller and more fulfilled.
When an organization cannot maintain a healthy balance of brainwork and footwork, of tactics and testimonies, the numbers become the mission; however, people don’t care what you know until they know you care. At Tech Goes Home, we are not in the money business; we’re in the mankind business. With us, people are not merely a number. If anything, they are a letter; they’re our ‘Y’. From my vantage point, I’m blessed to see the forest AND the trees – a beautiful balance of the product and the people – and it’s a wonderful view.
To find out more about Tech Goes Home’s wide range of options for teachers, entrepreneurs, artists, older adults, non-native English speakers, and more, visit tghtn.org.