HOUSTON – It is a movement driving a brighter future for Houston neighbors.
“Not only are we building community, we’re painting community,” said artist GONZO247 who along with a team of volunteers from the community and Comcast Texas is building a sign of hope, brush by brush, in Midtown on what was once a pretty plain wall of the Career and Recovery Resources, or CRR Building, on San Jacinto Street.
“A lot of great things happen out of this building. A lot of support for, you know, veterans, people of the hearing impaired. Just getting people back on track with life and getting into the workforce. And Comcast has stepped up to be a partner in this mural,” said GONZO247.
The mural is called Make Your Wake for GONZO247 it is about riding out whatever life brings. “A lot of times life throws challenges at you. But you have to think yourself, as this ship, kind of cutting through the ocean. Cutting to the storm,” he said.
Partnering on the mural is one piece of a bigger commitment Comcast is making to local communities in Houston.
As our world goes leans more and more digital, access to opportunities open up however not everyone is able to reach the resources available online. Think jobs, healthcare, or education. In our digital world some neighbors are facing a Digital Divide caused by simply not having access to the online world.
“A lot of the clients that we see, specifically experiencing homelessness, if they go to the local library they have free computers to use, but they don’t really understand how to use those computers. And so we do digital literacy classes and teach individuals how to do the very basics of computer skills. So this is actually our first partnership with Comcast, once they heard about the great work we do, they decided, why not, you know, get in on it,” said Cathryn Martinez who is the Development & Community Engagement Manager at CRR.
Ten minutes down the road in Lawndale, Comcast Texas has also teamed up with SER Jobs, and the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities on a Digital Navigators pilot program.
“There’s a big chunk of our city, where people do not have the finances, or the education, or the technical skills to really make the most of the digital world that we are now in and so this program is going to help to level the playing field,” said Shannon Buggs, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities, which works to connect public, private, and non-profit partners.
Fernando Perez is Outreach Coordinator and now also the Digital Navigator at SER Jobs.
”We’re very, very excited about this new program.” Perez told Houston Life before the very first classroom full of people who signed up to either brush up on, learn more about, or get the understanding they never had about how to navigate the online universe.
“So we’ll start out with things like you know, working with emails, attachments, and that sort of thing, and then just move on to the internet. How to browse the internet, how to work with apps. One of the main things we want to teach is how to work with applications, online applications, you know, applying for jobs, applying for new programs and those sorts of things,” said Perez.
Leo Granville leapt on the opportunity take the course. Seeing it as a way to grow.
“The future is gonna be amazing, especially as everything is technology. So, if you don’t learn it now you’re gonna be lost,” said Granville.
Beyond providing access to training and partnering on the CRR building mural, Comcast also connects neighbors to free internet if they find themselves facing a choice between getting food on the table or paying that internet bill each month.
“You’re gonna make your way through and as you do that, you’re creating this beautiful wake of positive energy and that way eventually it touches other people,” said GONZO247.
If you’re interested in learning more with a digital navigator at SER Jobs, give them a call on 713-773-6000. If you would like to connect with Comcast to find out more about free internet, call 844-389-4681 or you can drop into your local XFINITY store.
The Comcast website is comcasttexas.com