ECHO helps the Mission District Get Connected
A team of 5 employees from ECHO Technology Solutions recently had the opportunity to volunteer at Mission Promise Neighborhood’s 5th “Get Connected!” technology event. This free tech event, which catered to the underserved Latino population in San Francisco’s Mission District, was held at the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) May 16th. Event participants discussed job opportunities for Latinos in the tech world and took digital literacy classes covering everything from coding to managing home finances.
After the day-long affair, I had the chance to catch up with a few of the ECHO volunteers, including: Martin Thormann, Bryan Rees and Nihad Sahmanovic.
Roughly 150 people from the neighborhood attended the event, said Martin. Attendees ranged from families with teens looking to become college and career ready, to adults simply wishing to be more computer literate. “I feel that the information that was shared served as an inspiration for many Latino families,” said Bryan, noting that he had several people come up to him afterwards and thank him.
According to the volunteers, these free events have real impact because they encourage audience participation and serve as a great means of exposure to technology. In fact, an event favorite for volunteers and participants alike was the Tech Career Panel. Martin enjoyed interacting with participants, alongside representatives from other companies such as: Google, Facebook and Apple. And Nihad pointed out that such panels are very helpful because participants get to hear from experts in the field directly.
Reflecting back on the day, Martin expressed some surprise that the courses around using technology to buy a home and managing personal assets seemed more popular than the advance coding classes, suggesting Mission District residents have a real need for more introductory technology classes. That’s why it’s so important to be a volunteer, said Bryan. He continued by stating, “there are many organizations in our community that are helping people in need but that don’t have the resources to hire more people and increase their reach and impact…By offering your time to organizations that you identify with, you are helping these organizations accelerate their missions and [you are] giving back to the community you live and work in.”
So when I asked all three if they would be willing to volunteer at a similar function in the future, I received a resounding yes with Nihad adding, “I would love to volunteer at another MEDA event!” To see listings of future tech events or workshops, you can link to the MEDA event’s calendar here.
Mission Promise Neighborhood supports kids and families living, working, and attending school in the Mission District. To learn more about the organization you can link to its website here. For further reading, check out its December 2014 School Climate Survey: Understanding the experiences of students in San Francisco’s Mission District.
The goal of the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) is to achieve economic justice for San Francisco’s low- and moderate-income Latino families through asset development.