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Rose Park community members access free computers and internet as part of a new program.
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New Program In SLC Brings Computers, Internet To Residents Who Need Them

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –  Rose Park on the west side of Salt Lake City has always been a blue-collar, hard-working community.

But for many, they’re working harder just to get by.

“It’s always had some core needs,” said Carlton Christensen.

One of those core needs is internet.

That’s why Carlton Christensen, a former Salt Lake City councilman, is excited his home community is the one chosen to test a new city program.

Rose Park community members access free computers and internet as part of a new program.

Rose Park community members access free computers and internet as part of a new program.

Throughout the month of August, anybody who needs a computer and internet access can visit the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church off 760 North and 1200 West in Rose Park.

It’s a program called Rose Park Connect.

Christensen is the Rose Park Stake President and says having basic internet access is important.

“I don’t think anybody recognized the need to having an internet connection in our home,” Christensen said. “For many, as libraries closed, normal restaurants or coffee shops closed, the place to access it also diminished.”

The concern is those already struggling could be left behind even further.

That’s why Salt Lake City partnered with the Rose Park Stake and Salt Lake County to begin this program as a test to see if it would be successful – and how much of a need is there.

“It’s great,” said Allene Dotson, who visited the church building Tuesday evening to access her email.

She said she didn’t have another way to get online while libraries are still closed because of coronavirus.

“Well, I correspond with people. I do research. I belong to groups. I do family history,” she said.

For others, having internet access means applying for jobs or unemployment, taking the census, and getting health care information.

One of the biggest concerns is making sure students can do their online classwork and assignments.

“If you don’t have that internet and you don’t have good internet, it makes it virtually impossible and just puts those who are already behind further behind,” said Kevin Parke, who is a Rose Park community leader. “At my house, when the internet gets slows, people get upset. I have four kids and three of them are in school now. But there are some houses that don’t have the internet.”

Parke said having the internet is no longer considered a luxury.

Instead, with so many programs and information being moved online, especially during coronavirus, getting online has become a necessity.

Since the 2020 census has been moved online, he’s also hoping residents get on the internet to be counted.

“We don’t want to be undercounted because this community needs those census funds as much as anywhere in Utah, I would say,” Parke said.

There are staff members from the Census Bureau who are scheduled to be at the church to help answer questions and help residents to be counted.

The Rose Park Connect program is staffed with volunteers while Salt Lake City is providing the computer equipment.

For now, Rose Park Connect is available at the church building Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

At the end of August, the program will be re-evaluated to determine if there is interest in the project to continue and resident needs are being met.

There is also a chance the program could be expanded to other communities.

“Nobody has really done this before, at least not in this regard,” Christensen said. “But we wanted to give it a shot and we know it can be successful and we know the need is there.”

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