Some people downplay the important role that internet access plays in building communities and relationships, especially among older people. Many assume that the isolation of older people can’t be solved online because technology is unintuitive or impersonal.

Digital connection is different, but it is not worthless. As a board member and technology educator for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, I have seen online connections change lives.

Two weeks into a Zoom training session, a gentleman in his 80s reached out who wanted to learn and connect. It was a challenge to get him online, as his equipment was out of date, his internet connection was poor and he needed guidance. But we worked hard and found success. When my video came up on his screen and my voice came through his speakers, he began to weep. I was the first face he’d seen since the pandemic began.

This is not an uncommon story, and the challenges faced by this gentleman needn’t be the norm. By investing in internet affordability, education and availability, we can connect our communities to their loved ones and each other. Every connection begins with an outstretched hand and an open mind. Let’s not leave our older friends, neighbors and loved ones out in the cold simply because there are a few roadblocks in our path.

Cumberland County has a chance for a bright future. Let’s make it a reality by investing our American Rescue Plan Act funds in internet connectivity.

Star Pelsue

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