As the father of two, I know how important it is for my kids to have access to high speed internet. All children in Maine are completing their school year from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a parent, I’m responsible for making sure they complete their classes, stay in touch with their classmates, communicate with their teachers, and feel part of their school community as much as possible during this difficult time. My family is fortunate to live in an area where high speed internet is readily available and my kids can keep up with their studies and not fall behind. Too many children in Maine don’t have this opportunity because they live in areas with little to no internet service.

I’m also an occupational therapist for children with developmental and physical challenges. Until the outbreak of COVID-19, I met with my young clients in person, working to establish a strong rapport so they felt safe. Anyone who works in this field knows how important it is to build and sustain trust with each child as well as their parents or guardian. Due to the coronavirus, I am now conducting my sessions through video chats. For many of my clients, this is a startling new world. Some of them don’t recognize my face or my voice over a computer, but together, we’re slowly becoming more comfortable.

Unfortunately, some sessions have been disastrous because of a client’s poor internet service. Sessions abruptly ceased, or my face froze on the screen, or all they could see was “snow.” If the kids cannot see and hear me, I cannot provide the services they need and deserve.

I urge all Mainers to support the referendum to expand high speed internet service to unserved and underserved areas in Maine.  Please vote yes on 1.

Ray Smith

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