An unspoken testimonial to any nonprofit organization is when an employee also serves as a service delivery volunteer! CTN’s Dale Thompson is one of those superheroes who works quietly in the background and then transforms into a frontline volunteer helping local residents in need.
Although Dale has been employed as CTN’s part-time financial manager for nearly three years, her commitment to digital literacy goes back to 1998. That’s when the City of Austin first funded free community computer labs. Through Austin Free-Net, labs were first established in libraries and then expanded to low-income neighborhoods. Dale was an employee of Austin Free-Net for 13 years as its financial manager. “From the very beginning, I’ve had a passion for digital learning,” she says. “I knew the internet was going to change the world and that the people who could not access the internet were going to be at a tremendous disadvantage. The ability to access and leverage the power of the internet would be the great social equalizer.”
Dale serves as a CTN volunteer at the Digital Device Drop-in Center at the Terrazas branch library. Eddie has been her most faithful learner, coming every week. Eddie has a phone previously provided to him by another social service agency. He could make phone calls but was unfamiliar with the other features on the phone screen. The first time they met, Dale found out Eddie loved jazz, old movies, and British comedy. She introduced him to Google, and they found sites from which he could download music and movies. Dale also helped him leverage the Wi-Fi in the library to maximize his limited data plan and stretch his tight budget.
Dale and Eddie’s shared experience is one that is replicated by CTN volunteers thousands of times a year. To all volunteers (and donors), thank you for what you do! You make a huge difference for those whose lives you touch.