Helping Detroit-Area Seniors Build Confidence Online

David Lewis – President, AT&T Michigan
April 4, 2023
Broadband Access and Affordability

Helping Detroit-Area Seniors Build Confidence Online

I’m blessed to work with some truly amazing people. Spread across this state and across this company are countless AT&T employees who regularly go above and beyond to make sure the members of our communities are connected to the people and resources they need to live, learn, work and succeed.

One such individual is Tammy Preuss, whom I recently had the privilege of meeting at Detroit’s first AT&T Connected Learning Center inside Jefferson East Inc.’s Neighborhood Resource Hub. Centers that provide students and families with free access to high-speed internet, Wi-Fi, computers and technical resources. As a 32-year veteran of AT&T, Tammy now works in security and compliance for the mobility network as a principal member of the technical staff—a role in which she excels and greatly enjoys.

Tammy wasn’t at Jefferson East Inc. to work that day, however. She was there to volunteer—offering her time and expertise to help educate local seniors on the basics of cybersecurity in support of AT&T’s broader commitment not only to provide access to fast and reliable internet to underserved communities, but to also supply the resources and support many need to safely and confidently navigate and use today’s technology. It’s an undertaking that couldn’t be more important in a community like East Jefferson, as it’s estimated that 25 percent of Detroit residents don’t have access to the internet.

In talking with Tammy, it became immediately clear that volunteering her time in this way is something she enjoys not only for the chance it provides to meet and interact with new and interesting people, but also for the opportunity it presents to give back to the community in a way that’s important and often overlooked.

“I think these free digital literacy workshops are absolutely essential in today’s age, and I’m proud to play a part in making them happen. If you know just a little bit about cybersecurity, the chances of getting hacked are far less. Unfortunately, many seniors—especially those in underserved communities—just don’t have that level of comfort and familiarity with today’s technology,” said Tammy. “For many, I think there’s this fear factor of using it incorrectly, and possibly breaking their computer or cell phone. So, it felt great to come out here and work through some lessons and exercises with today’s group to help build up their confidence and comfort in using technology. I really do think these kinds of interactions have the potential to change their lives for the better.”

For Tammy, workshops like this are all part of the broader effort to help close the digital divide that persists in populations around the country—an undertaking for which she is clearly passionate.

“I don’t think there’s any question that technology has the power to change our world for the better—that’s already been demonstrated many times over. Rather, my concern is with how it is distributed and utilized,” said Tammy. “I worry that we will become a society of haves and have nots if we don’t do a better job of providing both access to technology as well as training to those who have traditionally lacked access or don’t feel comfortable with it for whatever reason. Lacking that connection and savvy immediately puts people at risk of falling into the have not camp as a result of the inherent societal and cultural disadvantages that come along with being digitally disconnected. So, workshops like this one and all the other things AT&T is doing as part of its broader digital equity-based initiatives are critically important.”

It’s a sentiment with which I couldn’t agree more. Everyone needs access to fast and reliable internet service as well as the training and support to safely and effectively use it. AT&T is working to see that we get there. And after watching Tammy in action, I’m more confident than ever that we are well on our way.