What are the qualities that define a community? Unity, commitment, and adaptability – all values, when woven together, describe the values our teams work hard to uphold, in and outside the company.
As 2020 comes to an end, we remain steadfast in our commitment to be there for friends, families, coworkers and neighbors. Whether it’s addressing social and economic barriers or empowering those particularly affected by the pandemic, we continue to collaborate with civic and non-profit organizations to provide our communities with the resources they need.
It is vital we continue to support each other through the COVID-19 pandemic to emerge stronger than ever. From opening opportunity’s doors to closing technology gaps, I invite you to read below and learn more about our journey to building a resilient community.
AT&T supports First Responders in opioid addiction crisis
Despite the many challenges presented by COVID-19, we pressed ahead to help first responders in their efforts to combat the opioid crisis in West Virginia. From providing new mattresses for fire stations to tearing down nuisance properties and writing thank you cards to police officers, we found new and innovative ways to show police, firefighters and EMS workers how much we appreciate what they do for West Virginia.
Mattresses for Firefighters
While repainting a fire station, AT&T employees noticed that the mattresses in the sleeping rooms were in poor condition. We made an $11,000 donation to purchase 32 new mattresses for Huntington fire stations and $8,000 for fire stations in the city of Charleston. Joe Blake, an engineer at the Huntington Fire Department said, “Sleeping is a life-or-death situation. If I'm not rested and I wake up, I pull out of here and turn left when I'm supposed to turn right, those two minutes, even 30 seconds, it takes to get back around the right way could mean life or death for somebody in that house.”
Wellness Center for First Responders
The extra challenges caused by the opioid crisis has made a tough job even tougher for West Virginia's first responders. That's why we were so pleased to donate $20,000 to the city of Huntington to construct and furnish a wellness center for the exclusive use of first responders. The wellness center will be used by officers and firefighters to provide training in self-care, physical fitness and mental health resources.
When we asked first responders what we could do to support them in their fight against the opioid addiction crisis – they had a surprising answer – “help us tear down these abandoned properties.” Such properties serve as places to sell and use drugs, cause fires, and lower property values in the community. Building on our successful effort in Huntington last year, where we tore down three abandoned structures, AT&T donated $32,000 to the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation to tear down an additional four houses in the city of Charleston.
Operation Gratitude shows support for Huntington Police
AT&T employees wrote over 100 thank you cards and created individualized paracord bracelets for Huntington police officers as part of its AT&T Believes at Home initiative. The AT&T Believes at Home program was designed to allow AT&T employees to support their communities during the COVID-10 pandemic. They complete at-home project kits to show support for those whose jobs and lives have been made harder because of the pandemic.
“Police officers put themselves on the line for us every day, and COVID-19 has made it even harder.”Andy Feeney — President, AT&T West Virginia
“With Thanksgiving approaching, we wanted to show Huntington's police officers how much we appreciate all they do for us during these challenging times,” said Andy Feeney, president, AT&T West Virginia. “Police officers put themselves on the line for us every day, and COVID-19 has made it even harder.”
Pagett Dusic, Women of AT&T West Virginia Chapter president, who organized many of the volunteers, said, “this project was a great way to keep our employees connected while doing something positive for our hard-working police officers. We gathered online together to learn how to make the bracelets, afterward, each employee mailed their completed projects directly to the police department.”
AT&T supports West Virginia foodbanks
Recognizing the extra need created by the COVID-19 crisis, AT&T stepped up to provide much needed support for two West Virginia Food Banks, with 205,000 meals for West Virginians in need during these challenging times.
In June AT&T presented a $10,000 check to provide 75,000 meals to residents of the Tri-State area of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. AT&T's contribution came in response to the foodbank's 50% increase in demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Congresswoman Carol Miller, who has long been active with the Facing Hunger Foodbank said, “AT&T has been so supportive of Huntington in general, as well as the food bank. This will feed so many people, and southern West Virginia is really hurting right now, so it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.”
Mountaineer Food Bank is an emergency food network serving over 460 feeding programs in 48 of West Virginia's 55 counties. In October, AT&T made a $13,000 contribution to provide 130,000 meals to West Virginian's in need. Gabriela Bonazzo, communications coordinator for Mountaineer Food Bank said, “The COVID-19 crisis has stretched our resources like never before. We’re extremely grateful to AT&T and to all those who have stepped up to help us meet the increased need caused by this virus.”
AT&T expands FirstNet Network, adds new cell sites across West Virginia
West Virginia's first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites and other network enhancements statewide. This new infrastructure is a part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place across the state, bringing increased coverage, capacity and capabilities for public safety.
New FirstNet cell sites have launched in the following counties:
These sites were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations. With FirstNet, it’s about where first responders need connectivity. That’s what is driving our FirstNet build. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 has also been added on nearly 300 existing sites as part of the initial FirstNet build across West Virginia.