We Love Our Interns!

Analysia assists a senior citizen in one of our free digital life skills classes.

Analysia assists a senior citizen in one of our free digital life skills classes.

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Brandon and Brianna at work in our new PC refurbishing shop in Kansas City KS

 

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Sylvia, Analysia and Brianna are interns through the American Indian Council.

Our AIC interns are primarily working at our Kansas Center. Sylvia is a student at Alta Vista High School and  is involved with training and one-on-one mentoring, especially with older adults. It’s a great experience for her since she is planning to pursue a career in education. Analysia goes to Sumner Academy and has her sights on becoming an engineer one day. She appreciates the fact that she can use her love for technology to help others. She is also involved in our instructional activities and has evolved into one of our best trainers. Brianna is a student at Washington High School. For her, working in the refurbishing shop has been a great experience. Having never worked with computers before, she is learning a lot. She hopes this will give her skills that can be used in a career in the military after she graduates.

deijah2Deijah became involved with a summer internship through the Kauffman Startup Scholars program. She is a graduate of the Southwest Early College Campus and is studying Psychology at Penn Valley Community College. Because she has always been interested in computers, Deijah thought she could learn a lot by working with Connecting for Good.  And she did. In our Kansas City MO PC refurbishing workshop, she learned how to transform donated used PCs into high quality low cost computers that go to under resourced people.  This involves checking out all the components, completely wiping the hard drives and installing new operating systems and other software. Deijah says, “I learned a lot more than I expected – and it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Karita was a great teacher and supervisor.” As for any lasting life lessons, Deijah says she was reminded that nothing is so broken that it can’t be fixed and made useful somehow.  An interesting observation for a future psychologist.

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Brandon is on his way to his sophomore year in Electrical Engineering at Kansas State University.  He, too, got involved in a summer internship through the Kauffman Startup Scholars program.  Technology is his passion so working at Connecting for Good seemed like a good fit. Until he came to work in our newest PC refurbishing workshop at our NE Wyandotte Co. Community Technology Center, Brandon had never taken apart a computer.  For him it’s been a great learning experience and one that will surely help him in his college studies and career. Brandon says there have been many meaningful experiences during his internship. He mentions one in particular; having the opportunity to get  tasks assigned to him and then being entrusted with executing them from beginning to end.  He came on board just as the new shop was being developed and has contributed significantly to its success.Preheim

Instead of going directly into the workforce after graduating with a degree in Computer Science from Bethel College, Ben decided to do a year of community service with Mennonite Voluntary Services.bThough he studied programming, he had never spent much time working on computer hardware.  So, he is excited about all that he learned while working in our PC refurbishing operations. However, he didn’t stay there.  He has been involved in everything from teaching classes to installing Wi-Fi networks and computer labs.  “Never a dull moment around here” he says. Besides the tech skills he learned over the past year, he feels much more prepared to enter the workplace thanks to the many great experiences he’s had. He is especially happy to have learned a lot more about the nonprofit world and appreciates the opportunity to use his knowledge to help people

We are in the midst of a summer cash flow crunch and need 100 friends to donate $50 to help us through this challenging time. Connecting for Good needs your help now to keep our interns and staff members working with people in our community who need technology access!


 

 

26. July 2014 by Michael Liimatta

Connecting for Good Needs Your Help Now!

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At Connecting for Good, our core belief is that connectivity equals opportunity. Access to the Internet brings with it a chance to apply for jobs online, connections with family and friends, access to virtual library shelves, information about medical and health issues, online education – GED completion and college courses – and a whole lot more. These are resources with the potential to help an under resourced family move toward a healthier, happier and more secure future.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of low income families in our city who are not able to get online.  Mostly it’s because they can’t afford a computer or Internet service.  For many, especially older adults, it’s a matter of intimidation – simply not knowing how get online or how use the Internet.

That’s why we have been working to bridge the Digital Divide since 2011 with wireless networks, low cost refurbished PCs and free digital life skills classes. In the Kansas City metro area, we operate two community technology centers, one on each side of the Kansas/Missouri state line. To extend our outreach, we take our mobile training lab to sites all over the the city.  Our goal is to see that everyone who wants to get online can, regardless of their age, income or disability.

We work to lower the entry point to becoming a productive participant in the online world.In the past year, nearly 1,500 people in under served inner city neighborhoods participated in our free digital life skills classes.

Everyone who completes the sessions learns to set up an email account and to use Internet search engines to find the information they need online.  Those who qualify as low income can then get a high quality refurbished PC for as low as $50.00.

We also help people we work with to find an affordable Internet service provider. And we actually provide a free in-home Wi-Fi connection to about 500 households In three low income housing facilities.

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Learning these basic technology skills and getting an inexpensive PC truly changed the life of a young woman named Sarah. She was a 23 year old single mother who was living on public assistance with two children when we first met her. Knowing she wasn’t providing for her children, she struggled with self-esteem and hopelessness.

With minimal education, no marketable job skills or computer knowledge she was going nowhere fast. Over a period of several months, this young lady attended our basic classes and learned how to use a computer for the first time.

Because of her limited income, it took Sarah four months to pay for her $50 refurbished computer. She did it by taking on odd jobs to earn the money. During this time, we provided her with one-on-one assistance to learn how to apply for jobs and to develop a top notch resume. She also asked for our help with interviewing skills and choosing appropriate attire.

The good news is that she did get an office job and then a promotion within six months of being hired. Besides moving from public assistance to a career, Sarah also completed her GED and is taking college courses on line. All of this happened within the span of just nine months!

Here’s a little more information about who we are reaching through our free digital life skills classes:

25% have never used a computer
75% are over 50 years old
80% are minorities, predominantly African American
75% have incomes of under $20,000 a year
90% purchased a computer from us after their taking free classes
2/3 of participants in the free classes are women
1/2 of women 60+ have a child under 18 living with them

So we can continue to provide these services, Connecting for Good needs your help now to keep our staff members working in the community!

We are in the midst of a summer cash flow crunch and need 100 friends to donate $50 to help us through this challenging time.

Won’t you take a few moments to get involved and share about our efforts with your friends?

Together, we can keep changing lives in Kansas City’s urban core by lowing the barriers to becoming a productive digital citizen.

 


 

24. July 2014 by Michael Liimatta

Dramatic Digital Divide Success Stories

A single mom from the housing project stops by our community tech center regularly to check her e-mail.

A single mom from the housing project stops by our community technology center in Kansas City KS regularly to check her e-mail.

Through the first five months of 2014, a total of 459 separate individuals have been students in our free classes, with many attending multiple sessions. This is remarkable since many training sessions were cancelled due to harsh winter weather in in the early part of the new year. Attendance in at least one three-hour class session is required to purchase a $75.00 refurbished computer.

So, who are we reaching through our basic Internet and computer skills program?

25% have never used a computer
75% are over 50 years old
80% are minorities, predominantly African American
75% have incomes of under $20,000 a year
90% purchased a computer from us after their taking the class
2/3 of the participants in the free classes are women
1/2 of women 60+ have a child under 18 years old living with them

Here are a few of the stories of lives that have been touched in significant ways through these efforts.

One 68 year old senior living in low income housing felt very alone.  All of her family members had moved to Texas and California. Because of her limited budget, after completing the classes it took her 3 months to pay for a computer on our “lay away” plan . In the meantime, we taught her how to use Facebook and it’s chat feature.  Before, she had very limited contact with her children and grandchildren and just a few pictures at holidays.

Using Facebook she now sets times to chat with her daughter and grandchildren. She is also able to see their photos in sports, school functions and family activities. She also does chat sessions with her son every week. This is so important for her because all she can afford is a cell phone with limited minutes.

Because she is now “digital,” she no longer feels unwanted, abandoned or old and unnecessary. Instead, by staying in touch with her family, she now feels loved, wanted, needed and has more fun. Getting a computer, learning how to use it and being a part of the world and connected changed her life dramatically.

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Terry, one of our trainers, leads one of the twice weekly classes at our community technology center on 3rd Street in Kansas City KS

An even more dramatic change happened in the life of a 23 year old single mother who was living on public assistance with two children when we first met her. Knowing she wasn’t providing for her children, she, too, experienced struggles with self-esteem and hopelessness. With minimal education, no marketable job skills or computer knowledge she was going nowhere fast. Over a period spanning several months, this young lady attended our basic classes and learned how to use a computer for the first time.

Because of her limited income, it took her four months to pay for her $50 refurbished computer. She did it by taking on odd jobs to earn the money.  During this time, we provided her with one-on-one assistance to learn how to apply for jobs and to develop a top notch resume. She also asked for our help with interviewing skills and choosing appropriate attire.

The good news is that she did get an office job and then a promotion within six months of being hired. Besides moving from public assistance to a career, she also completed her GED and is taking college courses on line. All of this happened within the span of just nine months!

In another instance, we worked with an unemployed 38 year old woman who could neither read nor write. She learned how to use a computer and the Internet for the first time in our free classes.  Outside of the sessions, we introduced her to educational word games. Using them, she taught herself how to read, write and spell. Because we made it fun for her, she came in every day for several months.

Once she started learning, her thirst for education was fueled, she couldn’t get enough. She had to have a computer she could use at home. Like the other two women, because of her limited income, the only way she could purchase a refurbished PC was to take on odd jobs, like scrubbing floors. Before long, she was able to get a part time job and her self-esteem and confidence have blossomed.

These are just three of the many lives that are being changed as our organization works to provide affordable access to technology and practical skills to people in Kansas City’s under served inner city neighborhoods.  We can only do this because of the volunteer efforts and financial contributions of those who share our vision. We especially need your help during these summer months.

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19. June 2014 by Michael Liimatta

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