By: Jess Gilbert, Public Relations Manager
As the world around us continues to shift in unknown ways, one constant is MTA's commitment to our employees and the community around us. Last year, Brandi Burchett, Mat-Su Senior Services CEO, came to me with a true problem; seniors in our community desperate for connectivity. In order to help this vulnerable population, we decided to implement our first-ever employee giving campaign.
Our goal with this campaign was to help give back to the seniors in our community and get our employees engaged with and aware of new fundraising programs for the MTA Foundation, which has long demonstrated its commitment to pioneering technological growth within our serving area. Thanks to the generous effort from MTA employees, we raised a total of $30,000 in donations for Mat-Su Senior Services.
These funds have allowed us to gift the senior services provider with a high powered tech hub to stimulate technology literacy within Alaska’s senior citizen population. Our employees’ generous gift will also fund 3 years of unlimited connectivity to the tech hub. We know that our commitment goes beyond broadband, so we will also be offering regular digital literacy and cyber security classes exclusively for the members at Mat-Su Senior Services. We couldn’t complete this project without working with Brandi to design a senior-friendly gaming area in the hub, providing seniors a new way to engage.
It’s been so fun and rewarding to watch this project progress and work with Brandi and the Mat-Su Senior Services team, and we can’t wait to see the finished product. I spoke with Brandi about our partnership and this project, and you can read our thoughts below:
Jess Gilbert (JG): MTA has prioritized technology education for years now, particularly to our more senior members. Why was it important from your point-of-view to have this space in the Mat-Su Senior Service Center?
Brandi Burchett (BB): For many seniors, not just here, but around the world, they tend to feel disconnected and out of touch with their grandchildren or families. By creating a space for connection and learning, this computer center will allow the exposure of technology and kick start new passions and hobbies within the seniors – something I’m really looking forward to seeing.
JG: It’s inspiring to see the difference the Foundation is able to make for the greater Mat-Su area and this project is just one of many examples of that. What does this initiative by MTA mean to you?
BB: This project and donation from MTA really showcases the love and support of the community around us. By being able to gift the Mat-Su Senior Service Center with a computer lab, internet connectivity and tech literacy sessions, it means the seniors will feel more loved and connected. I hope that by seeing this project, people may feel motivated to give back to the community they are located in.
JG: Our hope is that this will be a relationship that continues to evolve over the years. How do you see the tech hub being used in years to come?
BB: I think the seniors will love this new space. It gives them the chance to learn, connect and play – something many of them haven’t been able to experience much of in recent years. I see this space becoming a hub for community in the center and a place where seniors get together to try new things and help each other.
JG: Why is closing digital divide important to this community and demographic?
BB: For too many in Alaska and throughout the country, the digital divide has never been deeper than it is today. The gap between those with and without reliable broadband has only continued to widen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially within the senior community in long-term care facilities. Being able to provide them with computers, tablets and learning sessions means they will be able to connect with their families and feel a sense of community.
Big or small donations, alike, let’s work together to continue to close the digital divide. You can get involved today at mtafoundation.org.