Denise1 crop circle 20140617112313Now that January has arrived, many of us are learning to use the new technologies that have been gifts of the season. The cell phones, tablets, e-readers, laptops and flat screen TVs have been unwrapped, squealed over, and taken to new levels of usefulness. Is it a tool or a toy? Either way, for many of us, they have taken over our lives.

            I love the new technologies as much as the next person. I upgraded my smart phone recently, and believe it or not, it not only saves me time, but money as well. And because of my amazing MacBook Air, I was able to work from NYC when I visited my brand new granddaughter. I downloaded some new apps while I was there as well; there is even one for tracking the baby’s milk consumption and frequency of diaper changes. Who knew?

            I confess to also feeling some sadness over the new technologies. Many times in the past few months I saw people in a restaurant, having their meal and reading or texting on their smart phone, rather than carrying on a conversation. And the strange sounds that come from suit jackets and purses during concerts, sermons and business meetings have become almost the rule rather than the exception.

            The more often I hear people say, “There’s an app for that,” the more I think perhaps there are other “apps” we should consider.

            For example, I am appalled when I consider the widening technology gap that exists between those in poverty and others, and how this creates a widening education and employment gap. Contributing to causes that assist young people and unemployed people to have access to these technologies can help.

            I am saddened by the appetites unsatisfied, the frayed and thinning apparel, and the out-of-commission appliances in the lives of those in poverty, while the lines outside of the Apple Stores get longer and longer. One of my resolutions for the New Year is that I will give to a charitable cause at least the same amount I invest in new technologies.

            It is apparent that far too many cannot afford an appointment with a healthcare professional, though it may be badly needed. I applaud all who contribute to causes that can help in these areas, such as the Johnson Medical Assistance Fund, or the Volunteers in Medicine Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, and to the various other local organizations that serve this population.

            As I appraise the needs of so many of our Lowcountry communities, I offer an appeal to all who read this: Resolve, in the year ahead, to remember those less fortunate each time you approach one of the amazing technological devices in your home or office. And in remembering, appreciate not only what you have, but also the many who have so much less. Choose a cause; write a check. Live generously. It’s as easy as apple pie!

Denise K. Spencer is President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.