Each year, the entire cable industry joins together to celebrate, promote and enhance our businesses during the Cable Show. However, this year we are looking a bit beyond business to make a difference.
When the industry rightly committed to return to New Orleans for our annual convention for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s Board felt that we should lend a hand to rebuilding the city. Cable Cares — an industry-wide community service initiative — was born with a notable focus: educating children. The legacy of Katrina will surely live on in the memories of the city’s people, but it is the younger generation that will make the city thrive for decades to come.
Many of New Orleans’ schools have yet to fully recover from the devastation of Katrina and the flood that followed. Entirely new schools have been formed from mobile classroom units, while others are suffering from shuffled students, storm damage and missing equipment and books. Working directly with the local school officials, Cable Cares identified needy schools to be beneficiaries of cable’s goodwill.
Before many of us were even to land in New Orleans this week, hundreds of cable industry and local volunteers expected to be hard at work on several projects around the city. Two brand new playgrounds were planned for elementary schools where children previously had no place to play. Another school was to be wired for advanced cable services, complete with new televisions, digital video recorders and more. Industry volunteers planned to lend their muscle to painting and landscaping the grounds of a high school. And school libraries throughout the city will receive thousands of new books, through a massive book drive due to culminate on the Cable Show floor. Most importantly, all of these projects have been made possible through the generous support of many industry partners.
While community-service activity during the Cable Show is new, cable has a history of helping to educate students. Next year, Cable in the Classroom will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Most U.S. cable systems utilize CIC’s educational programming, providing students and teachers with cable TV and high-speed Internet access, along with teacher and student study materials. For our part, Mediacom offers free cable service to schools and libraries across 1,500 communities in the 23 states we serve.
Though Cable Cares is an industry-wide effort, Mediacom is stepping up with our own education-focused contributions to help communities we serve just up the coast from New Orleans that were decimated by Hurricane Katrina. In nearby Waveland and Bay St. Louis, Miss., Mediacom will provide much needed money to fund field trips for local elementary school students.
Back in November, we asked the entire industry to join this “give-back” effort to New Orleans. Our call was heard loud and clear. While everyone who has donated their time or money to this cause deserves a big thank you, I’m certain that students throughout the city appreciate this more than we’ll ever know.
This week, we will all see the fruits of our labor. Fortunately, New Orleans will see our contributions for years to come.