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ConnectHome Continues to Expand in Macon-Bibb

by Tanya Womack


The 2nd Convening for the Macon-Bibb ConnectHome initiative was held on Friday, February 12, at the Buck Melton Community Center. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Macon-Bibb County Housing Authority (MBCHA), Macon-Bibb County, Everyone On, Cox Communications, and Quality Computers gathered with local partners and stakeholders to discuss the opportunities and challenges.

June Parker, CEO of MBCHA, welcomed attendees and spoke of the importance of the program for public housing residents. "Many of the children living in public housing do not have access to the internet due to low or no income and this program makes it affordable for them to connect and stay current with their homework and classroom assignments," said Parker.

Ed Jennings, Southeast Regional Administrator of HUD, explained that as an initiative of the Obama Administration, "it is important that this program is successful" and if successful, "it will be a leader in paving the way for other cities and states to follow." Jennings emphasized that the ConnectHome program can have a far reaching effect on millions of children and families around the nation because if children are able to do their assignments and stay in school, they are able to become productive members of society and more likely to continue their education.

Mayor Robert Reichert said he was honored that Macon-Bibb was chosen as a host city for the ConnectHome initiative. He explained that the program will help combat the high number of dropouts in Macon-Bibb County because "students are more likely to stay in school when they have the ability to get their school work done and have access to the internet the way the rest of their schoolmates do." He further stated that "when you don’t have what you need to move forward you have a tendency to fall back and give up." Mayor Reichert said he is looking forward to seeing the progress of the Macon-Bibb County ConnectHome initiative.

Karen Middleton, Chief of Resident Initiatives for MBCHA, gave a presentation on the status of the current goals for the program and an update on the progress since the original announcement. "We are focusing on families with K-12 graders living in Tindall Heights, Murphey Homes, Davis Homes, Mounts Homes, Willingham Court and Scattered Sites public housing developments." Middleton further explained that the goal was to have at least 188 of the 535 families connected to in-home internet services, "but we’re going beyond that."

Jessica Walden, with Everyone On, and Chris Howard, with Cox Communications, gave the partners an overview of the many ways they can help the initiative by donating funds to help purchase the tablets for the families via Crowdfunding.

Travis Blackwell, with Community Partnership, gave a presentation on community resources and online/classroom training that would help families participate in the program.

MBCHA partnered with The Listening Post, a Cox sponsored company that offers a texting service through Ground Source. Middleton said flyers were mailed to each targeted housing development for residents to text their site name to be entered into a drawing to win one of two laptops donated by Quality Computers.

Burgess Brown of The Listening Post introduced their service as a means to help increase communication with families via text and give them an opportunity to engage families and obtain measureable results. Once they enroll in the service, they can receive periodic text messages to inform them of events, participate in surveys, and join community-wide conversations.

For more information about ConnectHome, contact Karen Middleton at 478-752-5097.

© Copyright 2016 by The Middle Georgia Informer
P.O. Box 446, Macon, • GA 31202 * Ofc:  478-745-7265 * Email: gainformer@yahoo.com

 

Gwenette Westbrooks
Karen Middleton