SAN ANTONIO – Organizations across the county are offering families basic necessities during the pandemic: food, masks, gloves, and toiletries.
But a major necessity many people don’t think of, is the Internet.
Most of the COVID-19 resources disadvantaged families need right now are online, and out of reach.
That’s why a local nonprofit and community center teamed up with Bexar County to offer a digital resource center.
One in four families in San Antonio don’t have access to the internet, according to a study by the San Antonio Digital Inclusion Alliance.
It’s a stunning statistic — even more worrisome amid the pandemic.
“Getting a check from the IRS, being able to apply for any kind of assistance, it all required you to go online and sign up. If you don’t have internet, if you don’t have a computer, if you don’t have a scanner, because it requires you to scan documents, how are you going to access these things?” said Beverly Watts Davis, the senior vice president for Westcare Texas.
The nonprofit has joined other organizations and the county to bring a digital resource center to the east side’s Ella Austin Community Center.
It is a socially-distanced computer lab that can be spread out in multiple rooms if needed. People can also get help there learning how to use the computers and access specific websites.
Watts Davis said many people don’t think access is an issue because most people have cellphones. While that may be true, not all cellphones are smart phones.
“You can make a phone call on them. On some of them you might be able to take a picture, but you cannot access the internet,” Watts Davis said.
So while families are at the Ella Austin Community Center picking up food, personal protective equipment, or items for their kids, they can now jump on a computer and get the information they need.
Watts Davis said the resource center will be open as long as people still need it. It’s open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Watts Davis said that was the most popular time for families to stop by to collect food and other necessities, so they decided to open the computer lab at that time as well.
The Ella Austin Community Center is located at 1023 N. Pine St. The phone number is (210) 224-2351.