D. Louise Brown
A community outreach program at LDS Business College is placing much-needed computers in the homes of economically disadvantaged families.
Kevin McReynolds, an information technology faculty member at the college, and his SIFE students (Students in Free Enterprise) have reconditioned 15 corporate computers donated to the program by Albertson's. The computers are being distributed to Salt Lake families.
The computers are refurbished with a CD-ROM, sound card, speakers, and modem. The package also includes free Internet access, a word processing package, and a printer. The total upgrade results in an average-grade computer capable of filling a family's regular computer needs, according to McReynolds.
"I believe there are two social classes these days: those with technology and those without. Kids can learn about computers in school, but if a family's going to be computer literate, they've got to have one in their home," McReynolds said.
The program benefits the families and the college's technology program, he said.
"My students are being trained to repair and build computers, and to manage networks. They have hands-on exposure to fixing and upgrading computers," McReynolds said.
The 30 students who worked in the program also learn by providing set-up and training for recipient families.
"This experience makes our information tech program much stronger," McReynolds said.
LDS Business College student Jessica Mitchell who helps coordinated the project said she's learned a great deal about reconditioning computers and about the need for computers in the home.
"Being able to have a computer increases one's opportunities in all areas," she said. "I know I wouldn't be where I am today if there hadn't been a computer in my home."
The first recipient of a SIFE computer shares that feeling. The father of the family said the computer gives his children a better way to do their homework, and allows him to upgrade his employment. The man, partially paralyzed by cerebral palsy, must type one-handed.
"Without this gift, I would have never had the chance to have a computer," he said. "It's a tool of the future for me."
Although the computers are being given to families at no charge, the college must recover the $150 it costs to refurbish the computers, McReynolds said. Last year the college sold $10,000 worth of reconditioned computers to non-profit organizations. This year McReynolds and his students took on a different tact. They're looking for people to donate the $150 per computer and are asking businesses and corporations to donate old computers. The college's students jumpstarted the project earlier this year by raising $900 at a fund-raising program.
"We see a bigger need in this community, in families, McReynolds said. "We're anxious to get these placed and hope we can find the funding to do it."
November 30, 2001