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Eaton Rapids church opens to students and their families to use the internet

Local News

EATON RAPIDS, Mich. (WLNS) — Across the state students and parents are tackling online learning because of COVID-19, but connecting to the internet isn’t easy for everyone. So, a church is coming to the rescue.

Jim Riley is the pastor of Eaton Rapids Assembly of God and he came up with the idea a few days ago. Riley wanted to help families who have spotty internet.

“I’ve been here, it’s been almost 17 years, one of our goals is to make a difference,” Riley said.

As the parent to two students and husband to a teacher, Riley has seen first had the obstacles people are facing just to keep school going.

Riley said, “I think about my family and we’re blessed and I realized that sometimes I take for granted something as simple as dependable internet.”

So he thought, why not open up the church to people who need dependable internet and he took his idea to Facebook..

Amanda Jacque said, “When he offered I immediately was like, yes!”

Getting her son started with school work has been a struggle for Jacque. She said, “My son hasn’t actually been able to start school. He’s just starting today because they opened the church.”

Riley said, “And today we got to see the boy’s face the first time he joined a zoom meeting with his class he was so excited to see his teacher and his friends.”

Jacque’s second grader is now able to get caught up on three weeks of learning.

She said their other option didn’t seem like a successful option, “Because the school’s only offering you to be able to use their Wi-Fi in the parking lot and I just don’t see eight hours in the parking lot being good for him to do his school work so I just haven’t taken advantage of that.”

If more people decided to take advantage of Riley’s offer, he said there’s room in the church for social distancing and he doesn’t mind making accommodations as needed.

Riley said, “We will gladly increase our internet, ya know, bandwidth to handle more people.”

“It’s not just for me and my son,” said Jacque. “It’s for anybody in the community.”

Riley hopes this simple gesture will inspire others, “I think it’s important for all of us to understand that we can all do something. We can all do something to make a difference. We all have something to offer to be a blessing to people around us.”

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