I grew up in a subdivision outside of a medium-sized city in Indiana, and today have a home with my own family in that same subdivision. We’re not big city by any stretch, but definitely have access to many of the amenities enjoyed by those who live in more urban settings.
For 17 years I’ve developed messaging strategy and information related to everything Team Midwest does to deliver value and solutions to our members and customers. I always tell my daughters to find a job that combines your natural talents with something that brings you joy and passion. I’m living that dream!

Most recently I’ve focused much of my writing time and attention on the rural digital divide. Yesterday I emerged from behind the computer to spend some time with one of our newest fiber internet customers, and gained some great perspective about how we really are changing the landscape of opportunity for our members.

Laura and Larry live in Mendon in a home they built nearly 20 years ago on 40 beautiful country acres. I drove from Cassopolis to Three Rivers and north on 131 before turning east onto a county road. I continued on that path for miles through farmland (a lot of tall corn!), then turned onto a country road that led to a gravel road and finally onto a dirt road. I was thankful for the ever-dependable Google Map app as I ventured further and further out of familiar territory and into the very heart of rural space.

The beautiful home with the welcoming porch was surrounded by acres of stunning countryside. It was still and peaceful, and in that moment the significance of what we’re doing really hit me. I was literally miles and miles away from any of the amenities that I’m so accustomed to, and yet I was there to talk with this lovely couple about their brand-new fiber internet service.

Crazy dichotomy! Laura and Larry now have access to the ultimate communications solution available, and they are buried deep in one of the most rural parts of our electric service territory. When they were hooked up earlier in July, Laura sent us this message:

“When you live out in the country, you learn that not all things are easy, not all things are accessible at a moment’s notice. The country teaches you patience and understanding. Today, with a blink of an eye, something that was told would never happen to the rural people happened. We have internet, not by a tether of a phone, or an air card with an astronomical price tag on it. Thank you Midwest Connections for being the stand-up people that you said you were.”

The previous internet experience was an air card with data limits. They had about a third of the speed at more than twice the monthly cost, not including the data overages they saw most months. With great speed and peace of mind of unlimited data, Laura now conducts some of her work as an apartment manager from home. She can also stream movies for the first time; in fact, that was the very first thing she did after our installer left her home!

This city girl got some great perspective on the importance of what we’re doing with yesterday’s visit, and made me even more proud to be part of the Utility of the Future team that is changing the landscape in rural southwest Michigan, one home and one member at a time.