It’s National Volunteer Week, a time to recognize volunteers from all over the country who dedicate their time to a chosen cause that benefits their community. From developing strategy on our board to computer tutor assistants, CTN has had thousands of people help in some way over the years.
CTN’s Changemaker Award recognizes a volunteer who has made exceptional impact on digital inclusion. This year CTN would like to recognize Michael Wiggins with the award.
Michael Wiggins has been volunteering with CTN for just over two years now. He works in the tech industry and had been researching opportunities to teach digital literacy in Indonesia. Then he stumbled upon CTN and learned that he could address the digital divide right here in San Francisco.
Michael began his service with CTN at the Western Addition Senior Center and then moved to St. Francis Living Room. The Living Room is one of our more unusual sites in that it doesn’t have a computer center! Instead, learners bring their own devices. While this might be a challenge, you would never know it by watching the way Michael works. In this unconventional space, he works with learners who often need a lot of one-on-one support. Michael told us, “I am really enjoying seeing learners develop a sense of ownership over their devices and helping them see their devices as more than a physical possession. Their phone or computer or tablet can and does exist to enlighten or delight them.”
From the start, Michael has been a strong advocate for CTN, and he has built strong relationships with his regular learners. Watching him joke around with the learners and grow their confidence is truly impressive. He told us, “Volunteer sessions are an opportunity for me to interact meaningfully with people I likely would never have met or spent time with otherwise, and also to learn about and share in (in a small way) their experiences. I feel more connected to this city as a result.”
What truly sets Michael apart is his involvement in the St. Francis Living Room iPad program. Through this program, clients are trained how to use donated iPads and are able to keep their iPad once they demonstrate proficiency in using it. Michael is critical to this program’s success and goes above and beyond what is expected of volunteers. Through a period of staff transition at the Living Room, Michael has continued to be a consistent and dedicated presence there ensuring that the program continues to run smoothly.
Michael will receive the award during this year’s Digital Leader Awards on May 9th.