Voices From the Lab: Meet the Comeback Kid of Pecan Park

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“I was computer illiterate—never been exposed,” says Tim, a Pecan park native dressed in slacks and a tie. Tim’s illiteracy doesn’t mean he’s never worked with a computer—just not in the way you’d think. Back when computer servers required a full room, he earned an income by taking apart computers for Boeing, and would make clocks and miniature trains out of motherboards. In fact, Tim constantly creates as a skillful mechanic, painter and more. It’s this love of handiwork that makes computers fun for him, “…because I’m learning to how boost my creativity. I can make anything.”

“I work on all kinds of things, but never took a computer class until now.” He wishes he’d done it decades ago, saying, “I come from the Dark Ages. But now I feel confident if someone needs me to do something on the computer, I can do it.

“Word is especially interesting. Ken says I took to it like a duck to water.” He even uses even uses a digital camera at work to scan and send pictures as updates on vehicles, keeping a customer updated without making them drive to the mechanic shop. “That’s stuff I wouldn’t know how to do. And I probably wouldn’t have tried it before. This class makes me want to learn more.”

Tim learned of the Texas Connects Coalition basic computer class through Crossroads, a ministry of Servants of Christ serving food, clothing and supplies to 250 of Houston’s homeless. “Since I came to Crossroads, a lot of things have changed for me,” Tim says. It’s true: Tim was unemployed and living at the YMCA. Since trying drugs and alcohol at 13, Tim has dealt with substance abuse, homelessness, prison and more. Now, he shares an apartment, never misses work and is training for a marathon. “I’ve done a 180,” says Tim. “I owe a lot to Crossroads and Mission Milby. Seems like overnight things started happening for me.” And when Program Specialist Ken helped him set up an email account, he found with his daughters in Belgium. “We were separated for 25 years,” he says. “I’ve reconnected with my family.”

His past has led him to youth counseling, where he stresses education and making sound decisions, regardless of peer pressure. “I have a lot of advice to give, because I’ve been there and one it. I have a Master’s degree in what not to do.” It’s not just drugs; he dropped out of high school when his girlfriend became pregnant. “If I’d had some counseling, I wouldn’t have struggled through life. And I’ve struggled way more than I needed to, if I’d just done what I should have done.” Counseling is his purpose, he says. “If I can keep one kid from making the same poor decisions I made, I’ve done my job.”

It seems to be working: young adults have written letters saying they would never forget what he said. “It’s important to get them now, because if they start making mistakes at this age, their percentage of success gets cut by half.”

But it’s not just good for the kids; Tim’s purpose helps his humanity to flourish too. “Before, I was selfish. All that’s starting to change. I’m really caring about people, especially the youth, and how quickly something can go wrong for them.” He often shares a story of a friend who lost her son to pills when he was 21. “It can happen like that.”

He sees computer class as a necessary step in his transformation, and plans to buy a computer of his own and take Mission Milby’s GED courses. “Taking [computer] classes was something I thought I needed to do. Now that I’ve taken the class, I can see where I could have used it in the past, especially Internet access. It’s opened up a whole new world for me.”

Mission Milby Community Development Corporation is a nonprofit serving Houston’s Pecan Park and Greater East End neighborhoods. It offers classes on exercise, computers and more. For more information, call (713) 454-6464 or visit 2220 Broadway.

Source: Technology For All

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