Early November marked my one-year anniversary at EveryoneOn (time flies when you’re having fun!). By now I’ve spent quite some time engaging schools, community-based organizations, and parent groups, amongst other stakeholders, to introduce EveryoneOn and generate awareness about our low-cost Internet offers. Indeed this strategy has been effective. But if I can point to one thing that has made a difference in helping me help drive home Internet adoption, it would be folks I’ve helped subscribe who have become informal Internet ambassadors. This is the story of Maria Hernandez, an Internet ambassador.
In late October, Maria called my office (I’m based in Los Angeles) to learn more about EveryoneOn and the low-cost Internet offers. She heard about us from a friend who subscribed to the Internet at our “Get Connected” event back in August. Maria, a mom of three, did not have Internet service at home and was eager to subscribe so that she and her kids could get online. After a few minutes of explaining our mission and providing the details of the offers, Maria took the plunge and enrolled. For Maria and her children, this would be the first time they’d have high-speed Internet at home! Of course I was thrilled to have assisted Maria and even more thrilled to learn that this was going to help the entire family.
Since getting “connected,” Maria has referred five families who have all subscribed through EveryoneOn! Family, friends, and neighbors have called my office and said, “Maria Hernandez referred me. I’d like to get Internet at home.” Go Maria!
Maria is an example of trusted individuals who take on the roles of ambassadors, advocates and liaisons for their families and communities. Below is a brief interview with Maria about getting connected:
NF: How did you learn about EveryoneOn? How did you get connected?
MH: I was referred by Elena Blanco who was also helped by EveryoneOn.
NF: That’s great! I know Elena has also referred many neighbors and friends to EveryoneOn. What did getting Internet at home mean to you?
MH: The Internet is not a luxury anymore. It is a necessity, especially for school. I have three kids at home, one who is in college. And before being connected at home they would go to the library and stay late to complete homework assignments and research.
NF: You’ve been great at referring people to EveryoneOn? What makes you do this?
MH: I know many low-income families with students at home who can benefit from affordable Internet service. The Internet service has become very expensive and families shouldn’t have to miss out because of cost. EveryoneOn is a resource and I like helping people link with helpful resources.
NF: What message do you share with other people about subscribing?
MH: I tell them how easy it is to subscribe and set up the Internet device once they receive it at home. Also, many people are skeptical about these types of programs and I take my timing explaining that EveryoneOn is a nonprofit dedicated to helping low-income communities get connected.
NF: You’ve become an informal Internet ambassador and in the process an EveryoneOn ambassador. Do you like it?
MH: Yes. I’ve always loved helping people. I believe in the importance of linking people to resources and supporting our communities.
Like Maria, every person EveryoneOn and our enrollment partners help subscribe can become Internet ambassadors. This would create not just a ripple but a wave in home Internet adoption across the country. Without a doubt it is time to consider engaging more community members as Internet ambassadors!
Norma Fernandez is the California regional manager for EveryoneOn. Follow her on Twitter @normaestela.