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Charity donates 257 computers for IT lab

Everyone loves a good surprise and the technology lab at NyE Communities Coalition got one last week.

NyECC was expecting a few used computers and parts to be donated by Works for Life charity to help implement a fairly new part of the coalition’s WERKS Youth Program.

Works for Life is a non-profit organization started in California with outlets around the United States.

NyECC Information Technology Director David Fields said he was “more than surprised to receive 257 used computers and additional peripherals.”

The gift included only towers and not monitors or keyboards. Those can be more easily and cheaply accumulated, according to Fields, who is also the information technology resource manager, a career counselor and “anything technology go-to person.”

Fields has been searching for whole, but not new computers, that can be taken apart and put back together by students who are there to learn how computers are put together, how they work.

Students in the WERKS program attend classes where Fields teaches them how to take everything on the computer apart and put it back together again.

Then, Fields said he has the pleasure of watching their faces that say “wow,” when something they have dismantled, repaired and put back together actually works.

He said, “I keep reminding them that they can do whatever they can imagine they can do.”

The technology lab is new to the NyECC campus. Getting desks and other learning and teaching materials is in progress.

NyECC Job Developer and Communications Coordinator Tim Wigchers said, “This (the lab and class) was all David’s idea. He works with the kids teaching them how to use a computer for practical purposes and this side of the technology gives them an understanding they wouldn’t get in most schools — and it’s so important for finding good work.”

Amber Hodges is an AmeriCorp volunteer who thought of the Works for Life group as a resource after the need for computers was mentioned at a staff meeting.

She remembered an “old family friend” who was part of Works for Life charity and called the organization.

They had everything the team here needed. Hodges said, “This was an awesome thing, and so exciting that it worked out so well.”

Fields agrees.

“What we find that works, we use — what’s not workable, we fix.”

He sees the project launching now and being in full operation by December, meaning the lab will be up and running, old computers made almost new and functional for students in training, and all the peripherals they need put together into complete systems.

The team still needs peripherals and is looking to the community for donations of keyboards, cables, power plugs, monitors, mouses and other working parts that could be useful.

Fields said, “This is also about giving back to the community, and with a 17- to 18-person computer lab fully functional and ready to expand, we can do that; we can get people ready for good work and help them find it.”

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