We have a responsibility to our communities to give of ourselves in a positive way. When an opportunity to volunteer with Digital Charlotte came up, it was a perfect match for me. I knew that I could make a difference for individuals in my community, but it was even more rewarding than I expected.
Some people don’t feel that they have anything to offer in the way of “helping” their community. They don’t realize that some of the very simple things, like sending an email or connecting with family on social media, can seem like an impossible feat to many people. Sharing the tiniest of skills you’re familiar with, stuff you do every day without thinking about it, can result in huge changes for people in your community. The feeling you get when a person thanks you for helping them learn a new skill is one of the best feelings in the world. I’ve experienced it first hand with every opportunity offered through Digital Charlotte.
Through Digital Charlotte, I have been involved with a variety of events. Each of these experiences targeted a different segment of our community that is “digitally challenged”. It may be high school students being given access to laptops for free or for a greatly reduced price. It may be a church group that wants to learn how to use the internet to live a healthy lifestyle. Senior citizens in our area can feel left behind in this internet based world, and they benefit from classes on internet basics and safety. Teaching a senior citizen how not to get caught by an email scam is a huge help.
In every one of these situations, the participants were all extremely happy for help with bridging the digital divide. Whether it was seeing the excitement on the faces of students who didn’t think they’d be able to ever own a laptop of their own, or the excitement of church members who didn’t know how to follow their church on their Facebook page, or senior citizens who expressed genuine joy when the received the needed help with their smart phones. These individuals are truly grateful when they realize that they can be empowered by learning something new. There is no better feeling than having people thank you for helping them and expressing how much they learned during a class.
By volunteering, I have learned that the little things that we take for granted can make a huge difference in another’s life. No contribution to your community should be deemed “too small” to share. You never know what small thing might make a huge difference to your fellow neighbor. In turn, it will also be a very rewarding experience for yourself.
Mary Pitkin volunteers as a teacher’s assistant in classes around Charlotte teaching computer and internet skills.
Learn more about Mary in her Stakeholder Snapshot and learn more about how you can become a digital inclusion volunteer here: http://digitalcharlotte.org/volunteer