In order to make the virtual mentoring program at Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters more enjoyable and convenient, AT&T donated 100 smartphones to help children stay connected with their mentors.
Andy Fleischmann, president and CEO of NBBBS, contacted AT&T about the need.
“I called attention to the fact that we have lots of kids who don’t own or rent smart devices,” Fleischmann said. “We have other kids that may have had access to them in March who might lose access to them over the course of the crisis due to the financial instability that’s been a part of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters came up with a process to make sure the phones went to those with the most need.
All three children in the Smith family of Meriden received a smartphone.
“(Talking to their mentors) would be through my cell phone,” said Tiffany Smith, mother of the three kids. “It would have to be only when I am not at work or only around my schedule when I’m available...”
The donated devices have two months of free AT&T service and will help the children and their mentors use the Virtual Mentoring Toolkit that NBBBS created to help them stay connected during the pandemic. The toolkit gives kids and mentors activities to participate in together, including science, math and reading.
“For a kid who’s feeling isolated, this can be especially valuable,” Fleischmann said.
Being able to video chat and see their mentor helps.
“They will be able to sign on to Google Hangout or Zoom and they will be able to actually physically see them and communicate easier,” Smith said. “It’s so much better because you can actually see someone smile.”