Patience Personified

MobileMentor_Esther

Esther, Mobile Mentor, Patience Personified

Quiet, thoughtful, amazing work ethic and always learning new skills, Esther is patience personified and an exemplary Mobile Mentor. She is also someone you just want to hug.

When Esther first joined the Mobile Mentor team, she always had a shy smile and rarely spoke up at team meetings. Now one of the most knowledgeable mentors, when Esther speaks, everyone listens. Tackling back office duties, mastering spreadsheets and keeping inventory and records up to date, Esther keeps the office humming.

She has also found her voice as a generous mentor to others. “Not everyone is going to be knowledgeable operating a new phone so patience is key,” shared Esther. She takes time with people to make sure they are not afraid of the technology.

Empathy is Esther’s other secret. “Always be open and caring and put yourself in their shoes so they are comfortable,” explains Esther. This is especially true when many of your customers are isolated with challenging life circumstances, like foster youth or homeless people working to get on their feet.

Esther not only found her her voice at Mobile for All, she gives back by strengthening the voices of others. Her worldly wisdom suggests “anything is possible as long as you are willing to ask.” The people she meets, along with her co-workers are what fuels Esther work ethic. She says that seeing people leave with a smile makes her job worth so much more and she is confident knowing that she serves a good purpose.

Esther is beautiful both inside and out—she is helping others, leading by example and bridging the divide one phone at a time—we couldn’t be more proud.

Mobile Mentor Profile by Rebecca Fontanilla

 

StreetConnect Alert

StreetConnect App

StreetConnect_logo

StreetConnect is a mobile app designed to create better communication between social service agencies and their clients. Using a secure online admin, organizations and case managers can send both real-time and scheduled messages—like weather alerts, event announcements, surveys and other useful information—to the clients and communities they serve.

The app is text-based, which means even the simplest cell phone can be used to access information. Users specify the type of notifications they want to receive about services that can meet their needs, and information is transmitted via text message.

Key Features

  • Web-based admin
  • SMS Text Messages
  • 1-to-1 and 1-to-many
  • Pre-scheduled messages
  • User preference settings

StreetConnect was developed by computer engineering students at Santa Clara University, under the leadership and guidance of professors Silvia Figueira and Natalie Linnell, and in partnership with the Community Technology Alliance.

SCButton

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary

On October 30th, 2014, Mobile4All, an initiative designed to end homelessness in the Bay Area and beyond, launched at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, California. On that day, 55 Downtown Streets team members—people without housing in the heart of Silicon Valley—received brand new Google Nexus 5 smartphones, training and service via Sparrow.

Program Highlights

  • Phones distributed: 250
  • Individuals trained: over 150
  • Workshops conducted: 10
  • Mobile Mentors: 4
  • Hackathons: 2 (HackfortheHomeless 2014 2015)
  • Apps designed: 24; Custom apps deployed: 2
  • Program locations: San Francisco, San Rafael, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Palo Alto and Chicago
  • Outcomes: Housing, Jobs, Banking, Family Relations, Digital Literacy

We could not have accomplished this without the generous support of our partners: Downtown Streets Team, Catholic Charities, Compass and Rush University; supporters including Santa Clara University, Google, Vodophone Americas Foundation, Citi Community Development and Twitter; and founding organizations: Community Technology Alliance and Sparrow.

Hats off to an awesome year making a difference with mobile.

Chuck Jagoda, Mobile Mentor

Meet Chuck

Introducing Chuck Jagoda and the Mobile Mentors

Field report by Rebecca Fontanilla, Sparrow – Mobile for All intern

One Thursday afternoon in Palo Alto, Chuck attended a meeting for Downtown Streets Team. Case managers were announcing a new program offering free smartphones to the homeless. Intrigued, Chuck listened closer…

“We also need one of you to be involved,” the case manager looked into the audience. “Is anyone interested?” the case manager continued. Only one hand was raised.

With Chuck as the First Volunteer, the Mobile Mentors Were Born

Chuck had been a teacher for computer literacy. Not only is he knowledgeable, he understands the importance of technology access as a basic need for functioning in today’s society. “Not everyone is aware,” Chuck stated.

“Not everyone is aware that when you give someone a smartphone, the playing field becomes more leveled.”

How well do you function without a mobile phone? Imagine how important that connectivity is to someone who is in crisis or who has very little. Without reliable mobile, it’s hard to get a job. Hard to get housing. Hard to stay in touch with family and friends. Easy to become isolated.

Homeless = Human

In addition to a teacher, Chuck is an advocate for human rights, which can be seen through his articles written for Palo Alto City Council prior to his involvement in Sparrow. In one article he addresses the issue of homeless people living out of their cars and in another commentary he voices his opinion on funding the armory. In this commentary, he questions:

“If 5 people die of exposure while the armory is present, how many people die if the armory is not funded and closed down?”

He raises a good point. Opinions matter and voices need to be heard. It’s not right to judge a book by its cover. After all, if a book is never opened and read, the stories are never told (and that’s the best part of the book, right)?

Life Lessons from the Phone Guy

One day, as Chuck parked his car alongside Fair Oaks Park, he noticed a tall, slender man poking into a truck full of metal. As he was stepping away from his car, he was getting a little nervous, because the man was making his way down the line of parked cars and Chuck’s car was approaching the man’s viewpoint.

“Hey, you’re the phone guy,” said the man to Chuck.

Instantly, Chuck’s worries diminished. This feeling of recognition transformed Chuck’s concerns. He felt connected to this man even if he didn’t know who he was.

After being a mentor for Mobile for All and helping homeless people get connected, Chuck has new insight on how to treat customers, in addition to reducing technophobia. He’s learned that some people may be hesitant to learn something new, like how to operate a smartphone. It’s important to understand people’s struggles and even more important to help them overcome them. He advises for everyone to be kind, as the world can be crueler than it needs to be. Smile and give back.

UPDATE: Chuck is now happily housed and working as a substitute teacher and Mobile Mentor. In addition to Chuck, others from Downtown Streets Team are working as Mobile Mentors, providing front-line customer service to Mobile for All clients and Sparrow customers.

Mobile for All donated phones

Our Mission

Our Mission: Bridging the Digital Divide with Mobile

We are creating doors to opportunity and pathways to more engaged lives by combining smartphones, safety net mobile, and digital skills training for underprivileged people in the U.S. and around the world.

Access to Opportunity

Smartphones + service can change a life. Just think about it… could you get a job without a mobile phone? Working with nonprofit partners, we serve disadvantaged people who are striving for a better life, such as homeless, refugees and foster youth. We use mobile to connect them with support networks and access resources like health and education, housing and jobs, banking and finance, and family and friends.