By Carol Palcic, Executive Director, YWCA of Westmoreland County
Nowadays, accessing the internet and knowing how to use it are basic needs necessary to keep up with daily life. Without access, skills and devices, people may find themselves stuck: unable to access telemedicine, online classes or apply for and keep jobs.
“Can you help me? I’m stuck.”
At YWCA of Westmoreland County, we work directly with individuals who need help accessing, understanding and using technology.
Our team is used to receiving “I’m stuck” calls because one of the most challenging issues facing individuals in Westmoreland County is the lack of digital access and literacy.
We’re doing everything we can to change that, but the barriers are real.
YWCA has regularly scheduled programs to increase digital access. Many were born during the pandemic when older folks were longing to see their families, needing to make telehealth appointments, ordering groceries online and so much more. These seemingly ordinary tasks can be unbelievably overwhelming and scary for those who don’t understand or have internet access, or who don’t have a tech-savvy family member or friend to provide support.
Luckily, our new partnership with United Way of southwestern Pennsylvania and PA 211 Southwest’s Digital Navigator Network, supported by Comcast, will equip us with the tools we need to help even more people access the internet.
United Way’s Digital Navigator Network will empower residents across Southwestern Pennsylvania. Specially trained Digital Navigators who work for the YWCA are ready to help residents in our community sign up for affordable internet, use their devices and acquire skills.
How do people find us? When they reach out to PA 211 Southwest, their Resource Navigators will connect to the staff Digital Navigators at YWCA, or those at Literacy Pittsburgh or Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Being part of the Digital Navigator Network means that we’re now able to make a bigger difference in the lives of others. As someone who has been in the nonprofit arena for nearly my entire life, it’s opportunities like this that solidify that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.
Our partnership will enable YWCA to support so many more people and move them forward in life. Whether it’s to finish school, have a Zoom call with their grandkids, find better jobs or re-enter the workforce, we have opportunities and resources to give them the basic training and skills they need to be successful.
“Can you help me? I’m stuck” might still be a part of our routine, but now we have even more hands on deck to answer the call. If you need help with digital access, dial 2-1-1, text your zip code to 898-211 or visit pa211sw.org.