One day out of the blue my friend sent me a message saying: “Text ‘start’ to (888) 414-
5539.” What a weird thing for my friend to send me after months of not talking. I had no idea
what to expect. Was this a prank she wanted to pull on me? Some weird scam number that
would spam my phone? I thought to myself, ‘Well what’s the worse that can happen? Even if it is a scam number, I’ll just delete it from my phone afterwards.’ So, I texted the number. The
number texted me back with a bunch of options: COVID Stats, Testing Sites, COVID Resources, etc. I messaged my friend back asking what exactly this was, and she replied that it was a text messaging service that was just started to update the local community about COVID-19 information. For a lot of us, myself included, we take our technology for granted. I’m able to ask any question I have to Google, and I’ll have an exact answer in a matter of seconds. If I want to read news articles, all it takes is turning on my TV and switching to a News channel.
But what CovidSMS seeks to address is the gap in technology literacy and access that
exists in society. There are so many people who lack basic technologies like TVs and computers at home. And therefore, they struggle to keep up with the latest news and trends. That is the exact problem we wanted to tackle with this service. Especially during a pandemic like COVID-19, it is so important to keep up with the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the disease. Knowing where to get tested, where to pick up food and medicine becomes so essential. We wanted that information to be available for those who may not have access to it otherwise.
I was so happy to be given the opportunity to hop on board and be a part of the
experience, being able to watch this service grow first-hand. While we still continue to adhere to the original goal of addressing technology literacy, the service and name has expanded beyond that. And it is this aspect that has been my favorite part about CovidSMS. Seeing the widespread potential and change that our service can have on the nation gives me and the rest of the team hope. It pushes us to work even harder to tackle these issues every day. Every Sunday night, during our team meetings, I’m always eager to hear the new ideas that we bounce off of each other. We have been blessed with the opportunities working with other organizations such as Covaid, the Family Rescue Center, UCLA Against Covid-19, as well as partnering with the Cities of San Marino and San Jose. Working directly with each communities’ leaders, we’re able to address key issues on how to better their communities. It has been an unbelievable experience to see how far this service has come from when it first started. But by no means are we even close to where we wish to be. We know how much more work has to be done to grow even more so that our service can reach and assist more communities. And I, along with the rest of CovidSMS, are excited to do so.