The community network at Windsor Park Lutheran Church continues to improve the lives of local residents in this neighborhood on the Southeast Side of Chicago. Since the network launched in 2016 in partnership with Leave No Veteran Behind and American Wide Broadband, this community hub leverages high-speed wireless broadband and free Wi-Fi connectivity to improve the lives of all people. From the day of our “wire-cutting” ceremony in 2016, the system continues to connect the unconnected and expand opportunities for people.
“The Church has enhanced its capacity to serve both community members and partner organizations since Broadband access was granted through Cambium Networks and American Wide Broadband,” said Al Walker of Leave No Veteran Behind. “Providing a safe space for community members to access vital services remotely, particularly during the pandemic, has made it possible for the Church to live its mission as a community hub. They continue to assist community organizations in meeting their goals as service providers by sharing a space equipped with Wi-Fi. Giving youth and their families the opportunity to participate in compensated service and learning projects that contributed to a safer neighborhood and allowed for a deeper level of trust in Windsor Park as a community anchor institution.”
For young people, the connectivity is leveraged to provide a safe location for students to do online homework and assignments. To help young people to understand the technology that will be part of their lives, Cambium team members conducted a lab on how to install and configure a Wi-Fi access point with TechGirlz, a nationwide organization that promotes technology among young women.
Adults benefit as well by having access to connectivity for job searching or registering for services. Community meetings are easier to run with internet access. The location has also been used as a polling place in the recent election.
The hub also includes a food pantry, which is part of the Greater Chicago Food Depository network. Located in an area with no major food stores, this pantry is one of the largest distribution locations in the city.
This hub has demonstrated the difference that connectivity can make. Community leaders are looking to replicate this model in other locations in the city.
Connectivity is a part of each person’s life. This model community hub makes a difference in people’s lives – both in the near term and in the long run.