SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Kathleen O’Dell with the Springfield-Greene County Library District recalls reading a statistic about a year ago.
“[It said] up to 30 percent of people who live in Greene County don’t have internet connectivity,” O’Dell said.
But, thanks to three organizations in Springfield, a community need will be met in the Ozarks. The Springfield-Greene County Library District received a federal grant to buy Wi-Fi hotspots.
Also, UScellular donated plenty of hotspots to the Boys and Girls Clubs (BGCS) of Springfield.
UScellular donated 175 hotspots, which Club members can use for two years. Retail store manager David King says it’s a donation worth more than $200,000. In addition, the mobile network has had a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs around the country. King says his company also donated 20 hotspots to the Jefferson City location and 80 to Columbia.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been even more necessity for people to stay connected outside of school,” King said. “These hotspots are going to help the Boys and Girls Club stay connected while they’re at the club and also while they’re at school.”
Didem Koroglu with BGCS says it’s a timely gesture.
“Much of learning is now happening online,” Koroglu said. “Just having that opportunity to be able to do their homework when they’re not at the Clubs and staying connected. Parents as well; as a family approach, we are not only serving our Club members but our families as well.”
Turning to another group, the Springfield-Greene County Library District bought 200 hotspots.
“A lot of people need internet service to apply for jobs or to pay their bills,” O’Dell said. “We were inspired to do this by our former IT Director David Patillo, who passed away a couple of months ago from COVID. He was inspired by an FCC Emergency Connectivity Fund project.”
O’Dell says the library received a $71,400 grant from the Federal Communications Commission.
“[Patillo] unfortunately didn’t see the result of his work, but we feel the hotspots are here because he was inspired to start it,” O’Dell said.
As long as you have a library card and sign a form saying you don’t have internet, a library hotspot can be checked out for a year.
“One woman said it’s a great thing for people who, while they’re waiting for the three-week hotspot checkout from the library, it’s great for them to not have to sit in the parking lot of the library and use Wi-Fi service that the library extends out to parking lots.”
O’Dell says only a small supply of hotspots are left to check out. But, her District will consider bringing back this option next year. BGCS says it will probably start giving out hotspots next week.