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I first heard about Connecting for Good while attending a summit within the stone and marble walls of the downtown Kansas City library. I was there to learn about non-profits in the area and what they were doing to ‘bridge the digital divide’. I found more than that.

Passionate individuals from all over the country spoke from a podium in suits or groups of matching polo shirts; Pew Research Center, Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion – the mayor even spoke. It was an exciting couple of hours.

Over a bagel and a cup of free coffee, I realized what most of us don’t: my life would be impossible without the internet. So many families and communities in this very city do not have access to the internet or don’t know how to use it. This moved me and I wanted to know how I could help.

Helping is hard for some of us. Sometimes the answer to a question like, “What do you do?” is not a simple one. Volunteers are needed for organizations for all over the city, but the most needed skills are in medicine, carpentry/labor, and in social work. I am a digital marketer, when you break it down. What could I offer? And then, who do I offer that to?

We can all collect canned goods for the local pantry and buy Christmas presents for underprivileged children, but wouldn’t it be even more fulfilling to use my area of expertise to give back? In this crazy season of billable hours and paychecks and bonuses and holiday door-buster sales and Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays – I want to use my powers for good. Don’t we all?

I contacted Tom that same week. Tom Esselman is the CEO of Connecting for Good and his office is in their KCMO location – a corner of a church on the corner of Linwood and 71 highway. I pulled into the newly-paved lot and sincerely did not know what I was in for. I came to listen.

Tom found me wandering through the halls and shook my hand enthusiastically. He told me, as we found our way to his storage room office, that he used to work for Hallmark but found his way to working for non-profits as he grew older. He told me the story of Connecting for Good like he was telling me a story about his grandchildren. I could tell that he loved what the organization did and he was happy to be a part of it.

Connecting for Good

Connecting for Good does many things for the Kansas City area. It builds computer centers in areas where people that might never have touched a computer otherwise can have access to the opportunities that digital connectedness provides. It works with other non-profits to build computer centers and provide digital training. It works in communities to teach parents how to stay connected with schools. Connecting for Good also refurbishes donated computers, sells them at a very affordable price, to individuals who go through their training courses, and then uses the proceeds to continue connecting.

Anyone with computer-related skills could help them. They need volunteers to train groups of people in communities on digital skills. They have curriculum, all they need is time. Your time. My time.The funny thing is, if I hadn’t reached out and made the effort, I might still be wondering what it is that I do? What do I have to offer?

It’s Giving Tuesday, so here’s my gift to you: I’ve done some of the leg work for you. Get involved! Teach a parent how to email their child’s teacher. Give your old computer a deserving new home. Help a job seeker update their resume. Contact Connecting for Good via their volunteer form: http://www.connectingforgood.org/volunteer-form/.

Tell Tom I sent you.

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