BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The COVID-19 pandemic has proved the importance of reliable internet access.

Now, members of Baltimore’s Ashburton community can connect to WiFi for free.

It’s thanks in part to a local church that hopes to inspire other places of worship to do the same.

On the roof of Liberty Grace Church of God in Ashburton, an information highway is being paved.

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Free WiFi will now be broadcast to all those within a 1.5-mile radius.

“This is just a really exciting day for us as a church,” Terris King II, of Liberty Grace Church of God, said.

It’s all thanks to a partnership between the church, Digital Harbor Foundation and Project Waves, an organization that’s working to provide internet to disenfranchised communities.

“Our goal is making the internet available and accessible regardless of social economics statues,” Adam Bouhmad, of Project Waves, said.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Project Waves has connected more than 120 families with free in-home internet service and set up 73 public WiFi hotspots throughout Baltimore.

“Everyone deserves a free public education and internet connectivity should not be a tax where folks are essentially paying for a public education when essentially this is something that should be afforded to everyone,” Bouhmad said.

It’s a project the church has been working on for more than a year.

“Today is huge for us because we’re going to be able to provide this, not just for learning experiences, but to people in the community in need right now,” King II said.

The church said it hopes to become a model for other places of worship in an effort to eliminate the digital divide in Baltimore.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Sean Streicher