Connected devices allow older adults freedom, convenience, and communication, and it’s important they have the resources to enjoy the digital world safely and securely. That’s why AT&T and Boston’s AgeStrong Commission have continued its annual Holiday Connections tradition for nearly 30 years.
On December 8, 2023, more than 300 older Bostonians visited Boston City Hall to call family and friends, anywhere in the world, free of charge. In addition to the free phone banks, specially trained AT&T volunteers presented workshops about scam and fraud prevention, cyber-safety and general technology training. We also provided guests one-on-one help with their phones, tablets and other connected technology.
“Age Strong is so grateful to partner with AT&T on our Holiday Connections event,” said Emily K. Shea, Boston’s AgeStrong Commissioner. “Hundreds of Boston’s older residents have the opportunity to connect with loved ones across the world, learn new tips for their technology, and enjoy the day together.”
This year, many other City of Boston offices joined the Holiday Connections event, with the Boston Police Department providing safety information to attendees and giving a special presentation about senior safety. Representatives from the City of Boston Department of Innovation and Technology were on hand to discuss digital opportunity, the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program and the mobile BOS:311 app. We were also joined by the City’s Emergency Management engaged attendees as well.
“We are grateful for partnerships like this one that create an opportunity for our officers to connect with Boston’s older adults about ways to protect themselves from scammers and other dangers,” said Commissioner Michael Cox, Boston Police Department. “Community policing is about building trust and connecting with people and we are happy to be part of this great event.”
Attendees were provided breakfast and lunch, as well as numerous festive holiday activities such as a photo booth and sing-alongs. Additionally, this year seniors set up tables of their own to showcase their crafts and artisan wares.
A special presentation was made to honor Marybeth Kelly, a longtime City employee who has been instrumental in organizing and planning the Holiday Connections event for decades. She will be retiring at the end of the year after 28 years of service to the people of Boston and AT&T joined AgeStrong Commissioner Emily Shea and representatives from the Mayor’s office to publicly recognize Marybeth and thank her for her contributions to this event, and the city at large.
“We’re happy to once again help Boston’s older adults stay connected with their friends and families living overseas this holiday season,” said John Emra, President, AT&T Atlantic Region. “We are grateful to Mayor Wu, Commissioner Shea and AgeStrong for their collaboration and desire to resume and grow this longstanding holiday event. We hope this event provides the warmth of connection with loved ones, the confidence to harness the power of technology, and a lot of holiday joy.”
In years past, more than 1,400 calls were made to more than 40 countries including Haiti, Cuba, China, Albania, France and others. Interpreters were on hand to assist many non-English speaking residents with translation services to Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese, Vietnamese and more.