On Tuesday night, 62 students at Adams School got connected ... to the World Wide Web.
Thanks to Computers for Families, the flagship project of the nonprofit Santa Barbara Partners in Education, 62 families of students in grades four through six received newly refurbished computers during the distribution, held in the school’s auditorium.
For the past 13 years, Computers for Families has been providing students from low-income Santa Barbara County families with computers, Internet access, and technical training and support. Through ongoing donations and its recently completed $4 million sustainability campaign, as well as the magnanimous efforts of countless volunteers, CFF has placed more than 7,000 computers in the homes of school children from Carpinteria to Goleta. Since the project’s inception, however, rarely has it hosted a giveaway as big as Tuesday’s.
“The largest one we ever did was 70 computers at one time,” CFF coordinator Kristine White told Noozhawk, “but this is certainly one of the largest events we’ve ever had.”
Each week, used computers are delivered to Los Prietos Boys Camp, a Santa Barbara County-managed residential treatment program for adjudicated youth. These teenagers, who have been given the chance to take vocational technology classes as a part of their rehabilitation, take the donated computers and install upgraded components, clean and refurbish them, and finally certify them for delivery to a family in need. Between August and January, the kids from Los Prietos Boys Camp get to be a part of these heart-warming deliveries every Tuesday and Thursday, providing an integral component in their eventual assimilation back into their community.
As for the 62 lucky students at Adams School, the excitement was written all over their faces as they perused the aisles of computers like customers on a used-car lot, trying to guess which one they would be taking home. In the end, every family in attendance received not only a computer but a 20-minute introductory seminar about computer operations, courtesy of White and the 20 CFF volunteers on hand, as well as an application for a subsidized, affordable Cox Cable Internet connection. CFF also guarantees free technical support for all families up until the time the child completes sixth grade.
Outside the auditorium, one grateful parent approached attorney Joe Howell, a Partners in Education board member and longtime leader in the Computers for Families program.
“I just want to thank you,” said the single mother of two daughters. “My daughter, Yesinia, was so excited last night that she couldn’t sleep. She told me, ‘It’s better than Christmas!’”
Adams Principal Amy Alzina also expressed her deep gratitude for the generous efforts of Computers for Families.
“It’s just amazing,” said Alzina. “Every student grades four through six who didn’t have a personal computer at home — not a shared family computer, but a personal one — was able to get one tonight through CFF.”
That proliferation of student Internet access comes at an opportune time for students, parents and staff alike at Adams. The school at 2701 Las Positas Road recently received a major influx of new technology, thanks to Title 1 stimulus funding, and each classroom was subsequently fitted with a digital projector, document camera, and a new laptop computer with Internet and a larger sound system. Now that all the older students will have the ability to connect to the Web, that technology can really bridge the communication gap between home and classroom.
“The combination of the infusion of technology, and the computers donated by CFF is going to create an amazing opportunity for the school, and allow parents to stay more in the know as well,” White said.
Click here for information about donating time, money or used computer equipment to Computers for Families.
— Kevin McFadden is a Noozhawk contributor.