"The happiness from drivers has been incredible." - Lata Ahmed, who helped identify families who could benefit from the program.

With pandemic numbers on the rise, more working families are relying on technology to complete essential tasks in their daily lives.

Kids are immersed in e-learning, families are gathering over Zoom to share a holiday meal, and a plethora of meetings, including our very own Union meetings, are now held online.

While many families are comfortably able to navigate the switch into a deeper virtual world, others face obstacles and are getting left behind. Some families have only a single electronic device that has to be shared between school-age children and their parents. Others have nothing at all.

To help break down these barriers and begin to bridge the technological divide, our Union recently worked with an area non-profit to get tablets into the hands of families that might need some extra help.

Deisha Rodgers, the Director of Early Learning at the Atlantic Street Center (ASC), got the ball rolling. She let our Local Union know (her husband Fred is a Union Rep!) that tablets were available for families through her organization.

"A lot of families face challenges with technology, especially people of color," Rodgers said. "Our goal is to help those families overcome  challenges and to remove existing barriers." 

With ASC's offer on the table, Union staff, at the direction of Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy, quickly identified member families who might benefit. In the end, we helped over a dozen families gain access to tablets through the program. 

"This is a time when everything is virtual and having a device like this is an incredible help," said Adam Burqa, father of three and one of the computer recipients. "It's important that we're supporting each other, especially now. I appreciate the effort the Teamsters and the Drivers Union are making for our community."

"At Teamsters 117, our mission is to improve lives through representation and collective action, but it is also to lift up our communities," Scearcy said. "One of the ways we can accomplish that goal is by teaming up with organizations like the Atlantic Street Center. We're excited that more working families in our region will now have access to technology through this program."