Young and older students alike gathered at Mission Milby Community Development Corporation (MMCDC) on October 24, 2012 to celebrate: they had just earned new desktop computers, complete with mouse and keyboard. They are graduates of MMCDC’s first Adult Serve & Earn class, which offers refurbished computer technology in exchange for community service and computer literacy.
The 26 participating adults were required to spend 60 hours in community service and attend computer classes provided by MMCDC and partner Technology For All (TFA). Through this partnership donated computers are refurbished and given to students for free. For many, this is the first computer they have ever owned. And because Technology For All also offers a local, secure wireless network with Rice University, some students benefit from free Internet in their own home.
“I want them to go into Best Buy, read a computer’s specification card and know what everything is,” says TFA Program Specialist Ken, who teaches the adult and youth classes. Under his instruction, students take their computer apart and rebuild, learning each piece as they go. Ken teaches terminology and function while explaining how each part fits in the big picture.
“They learn how computers are in everything, from cash registers to their phones,” Ken says. “They leave knowing that every computer device has the same components, like memory and RAM.” They also learn important software terminology and maintenance, such as disk cleanup and security updates.
The majority of the students came from the free GED and ESL classes held every week thanks to a partnership with MMCDC and Houston Community College. While Serve & Earn students could have donated their time anywhere, many preferred giving back to Mission Milby. Several completed the required 60 hours of service in after school help, feeding at-risk youth, cleaning assistance and more.
The program was created to encourage in youth and adults a sense of responsibility and involvement in the Pecan Park community while giving them employable computer literacy skills. This recognized low-income neighborhood in Houston, Texas suffers from high dropout rates and low household incomes, and many families cannot afford to own a computer. Smart phones are popular, but they are a poor substitute when writing a paper for school or applying for jobs with an online application. Now, these students have total access.
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-Houston