Keeping Tabs on the Digital Divide

The LinkAge

A Disconnected Family

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In Dover, New Jersey a middle-class family has fallen on tough times. With two parents out of work, a high school sophomore struggles to keep up with his peers. Over the course of the last two weeks his father and I have been working to get a computer and Internet to his son. During one of our conversations I asked him if it was okay for me to write down his story to share:

When I lost my job, we went from having a “normal” life to not having the funds to support my son’s education. When the bills started piling up we could no longer afford Internet in our home. To apply for jobs and in order for my son to keep up with his school work, we go to the library on a daily basis. But what a lot of people don’t understand is that libraries close.

During Thanksgiving break the library was closed for four days. That’s four days of not looking for and applying to jobs for me, and four days of not doing school work for my son. It doesn’t just affect his school work, either, but also learning about his passion, cars. His passion, his love, is cars. He thrives on knowing how to take them apart and build them back, the Internet gives him the knowledge he needs to do it. It allows him to see others do it through videos and message boards. For me I can take it, I can take the library being closed, but for my son, it pains me to see how far he is falling behind his peers.

This year he enrolled in a CADD class and loves the technology aspect of the class. The school recently bought a $7,000 program that’s free for all the students to download on their own personal computer. My son came home upset that he was unable to get the program because we don’t have a laptop. He was the only student without one, and the teacher couldn’t understand how he didn’t own his own laptop.

Computers are not a luxury for a sophomore in high school; they are a learning tool all students need to have. I’m not looking for any handouts, I’m looking for a way to provide my son with what he needs. What your organization, JerseyOn, does is give us hope. We would go from having nothing to something. That’s a Mitzvah; in my religion you are a miracle benefiting another person.

We are currently working with the business community in Dover to secure funding for this family and many others in similar situations. We are confident that a laptop and Internet connection will be with them shortly.


Kurt Peluso is the director of JerseyOn, a project of EveryoneOn.