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Microsoft in your community

Valuable technology expands across Cheyenne COMEA shelters

The Cooperative Ministry for Emergency Assistance (COMEA) in Cheyenne, Wyoming, provides emergency homeless shelter, transitional housing, and support programs for individuals and families in crisis. When Microsoft teamed up with COMEA and the wireless network consultant, HarborTech Mobility, in 2018 to create two private networks for COMEA staff and residents, the nonprofit saw valuable improvements in communication, security, and productivity.  

These networks for staff and residents provide service in a men’s shelter and a separate women’s and children’s shelter, and new funding aims to expand the broadband to a third shelter located between the two. The additional building will be staffed by the same case workers from the existing shelters, and the ability to access files and information in the new remote office will save time and money.  

“We always think that nonprofits shouldn’t have the benefit of technology, that it is a luxury, but it is such a necessity,” said COMEA Executive Director Robin Bocanegra. “The people we are helping are in crisis and we need to be able to access information quickly and give them answers quickly. If we aren’t technical and don’t have that capability, it can really set people back.”

Emphasizing security in new facilities

“The thing that is most concerning for me is all security related,” Bocanegra said. 

The third building currently provides a home for a couple residents, but eventually will house up to 20 people. Bocanegra highlights the importance of getting those residents secure access into the building without staff onsite all 24 hours a day. At the other two buildings, COMEA utilizes a video doorbell that shows who is requesting access and gives case workers the ability to remotely unlock the gate. Although the third building has a security gate, continued break-ins are costly and stressful for both the COMEA staff and the current residents. Being able to remotely provide secure access will help to improve safety.  

Bocanegra summarizes the impact. “Microsoft’s years-long partnership with COMEA has helped fund technology improvements, operational upkeep, and more. With further wireless capabilities, COMEA will be able to continue providing necessary, secure support and programming for the Cheyenne community.”