Michael Smith, a volunteer pitchman for a low-cost internet service for lower-income customers, was recently recognized for his efforts by his employer with a medallion, an award and a special title — all of which, he said, was nice.
But there’s more to this story.
While Smith said his efforts make Comcast, the telecommunications company he works for, look good, volunteering also makes him feel good.
He volunteers several hours a week, he said, because growing up his family couldn’t afford home internet access, and he wants kids who are living in a high-tech world — like his 3-year-old son, Michael III — to be digitally connected.
“When I heard about the program, I immediately was excited about it,” he said. “That’s because I was recollecting on my own childhood. I had to go to the library — or be a recipient of someone’s benevolence.”
On Thursday, the 32 year old Ypsilanti resident is set to be recognized by Comcast, and later will participate in an event at Southwest Solutions Piquette Square for Veterans at 6221 Brush Street in Detroit.
Smith has been named Comcast’s Internet Essentials Ambassador of the Year.
Expected dignitaries include Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan; Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II; Olympic ice hockey champs, and twins, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando; and a top Comcast executive.
Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia, has been offering programs for years to increase wireless internet access to customers who can’t afford it for about $10 a month, along with options to buy low-cost computers.
In 2017, Comcast expanded its program to include Detroiters who are 62 and older. At an event in Detroit, Comcast gave away about 100 computers to seniors and school-age children.
David Cohen, Comcast’s senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer who is set to be in Detroit on Thursday, said the aim of the Internet Essentials program is to offer people most in need of Internet service the chance to get it.
“The internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in history,” he added, “It is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource.”
The company also holds volunteer events, and gives organizations grants.
Since 2011, the program has connected 8 million low-income Americans through the program, and while in the 30 years since the World Wide Web debuted, the divide between with technology lower and higher income Americans has narrowed, there is still a gap.
In May, more than 40% of households with an annual incomes of less than $30,000 didn’t have home broadband services or a traditional computer, and a majority didn’t own tablets, the Pew Research Center found.
In contrast, these technologies are now nearly ubiquitous among adults in households earning $100,000 or more a year.
Smith, a New York native, said he grew up in Brooklyn.
“We just had the very basics,” he said, “and internet was not considered the basics.”
Without home internet access, he struggled to do his homework — especially in high school.
After graduating, Smith said, he met his wife, Alexis, who lived in Flint, at a church convention in St. Louis. He fell in love, moved to Michigan to be with her and take a job at Comcast.
Now, he said, he wants to be a good role model for his son.
Smith said he volunteers after this regular job and on weekends, often speaking at community events designed to help people understand what the Internet Essentials program is all about.
“When I see people embrace the internet — and learn how to use it — they actually improve their quality of life,” he said, extolling the virtues of home internet access. “I believe I’ve improved my quality of life using the internet.”
Contact Frank Witsil at 313-222-5022 or [email protected]
Comcast offers low-cost month-to-month WiFi home internet access to people eligible for public assistance programs including, the National School Lunch Program, Housing Assistance, Medicaid, SNAP and SSI.
For $9.95 a month, customers receive in-home WiFi, 15 megabits download and 2 megabit upload speeds, 1,024 gigabits of data a month, access to free online and in-person training, access to Comcast WiFi hotspots, and an option to buy a discounted computer.
A laptop or desktop computer can be purchased online or by calling 888) 234-4272.
Program applications are available online at: https://www.internetessentials.com/
Read or Share this story: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/08/14/internet-comcast-low-income-computers/1996521001/
- [LLODO] Michigan state Dem pepper-sprayed, charged with DUI, resisting arrest, weapons possession: report
- [LLODO] Head of NYC’s posh Dalton School leaving at the end of 2021
- [LLODO] Chilling video captures moment a love triangle erupts in murder, revenge in NYC
- [LLODO] NYPD officers hit with Molotov cocktail and liquid chemical in face, police say
- [LLODO] California group files federal civil rights complaint over San Diego school district’s ‘racist’ teachings
- [LLODO] Podcast helped in hunt for 1996 killer of California student
- [LLODO] National weather forecast: Parts of Northeast could see more than a foot of snow
- [LLODO] Cuomo boasts he ‘invented’ NYS-scented hand sanitizer, faces no questions over scandals
- [LLODO] Teacher who decried NYC school’s ‘indoctrination’ put on remote work: ‘Feels like punishment’