One Employee’s Mission to Uplift Chicago

AT&T Blog Team
August 4, 2023
Broadband Access and Affordability, Community Impact

One Employee’s Mission to Uplift Chicago

Ivory Gwin, a Senior System Engineer, is one of AT&T’s most committed employee volunteers in Chicago, Illinois. To learn more about Ivory’s passion to help others, we caught up with him at AT&T’s Connected Learning Center at New Life Centers in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Ivory was helping AT&T distribute free laptop computers to students and families in the community.

Q: You’re volunteering at a laptop distribution event at an AT&T Connected Learning Center at New Life Centers on Chicago’s southwest side. Why did you decide to volunteer today?

Ivory Gwin: I’m here today with AT&T to hand out 100 laptops, which is very important for the community. It’s my choice because somebody did it for me. I feel passionate that I’m doing something that’s going to change somebody’s life or make a difference. Of course, it only takes that little bit of something to help the community. And I want to be that person that helps Chicago.

Q: How has the AT&T company culture inspired your willingness to volunteer? 

Ivory Gwin: Since the day I walked into the AT&T office, they’ve said, “Go out and volunteer!” and “Hey, we have this volunteer event!”

I got the bug right away, and I’ve been doing it since I walked through the door. And it’s everything from the shoe [giveaway] project to Thanksgiving turkey giveaways, whatever it takes. If AT&T asked me to go and do something in the community, I’m willing to do it, because it makes a difference.

Q: The Affordable Connectivity Program is something you’re proud of, can you share more? 

Ivory Gwin: During the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw these kids not having internet, and that bothered me. And when AT&T [participated in the Affordable Connectivity Program], I was 100% on it, because it’s helping. We’re giving away free internet service.1 That’s a big plus.

Q: What reaction do you get when you’re training people in digital literacy workshops?

Ivory Gwin: When I’m training somebody [on] something new that they don’t know – especially the seniors – and I see the spark come into their eyes about the computers or their cell phones. I feel good about that. Whenever I teach the kids and see them excited about computers, it makes me feel good. I can stand proud, and I’m happy because I know that I did the best I possibly could do.

Q: You really love Chicago. Why is it important to you? 

Ivory Gwin: I came up here from Arkansas, a small little town in Arkansas. And I fell in love with Chicago because it has a lot of opportunities. And it’s the friendliest city I’ve been in. People have been kind to me, talk to me, and just embraced me as a person. And I love Chicago. Whatever I can do to bring Chicago up, I will do it.

Q: What does the company’s Believe Chicago® initiative and helping underserved neighborhoods mean to you?

 Ivory Gwin: It means everything to me because I was there when it was in its infancy state. When we were coming up with ideas, “What should we do?” And when it spread, it spread across the country. I was thrilled. When you have a Believe St Louis, Believe Dallas, Believe Indy. I was like, “That is something else.” To see that it started here in Chicago. And the support from leadership was awesome.

1Plans up to 100Mbps. Limited availability/areas. Free internet subject to household’s continued ACP eligibility and application of the ACP benefit to Access from AT&T plans.