Voices From The Field
Here are some recent examples of National Cristina Foundation partner organizations and schools that have benefited from donated computers and related technology. We will share these stories regularly to highlight the hard work they engage in to provide training and support to people in need, and to encourage you to donate computers to enable us to continue the types of projects described here.
The Capital Area Corporate Recycling Council
I am the Director of The Capital Area Corporate Recycling Council, a nonprofit electronic refurbisher/recycler committed to e-waste reduction and the use of recycled goods by educating corporations, policy-makers and the public concerning e-waste, by reducing the stream of e-waste to landfills, and by providing recycled computers and equipment to schools, nonprofits, and low income families. The CACRC is able to refurbish for reuse the working equipment that comes into our various programs and recycle the rest using qualified vendors in the country (http://www.cacrc.com
). The CACRC was incorporated as a non-profit in 1997 and has been recycling electronics for the past twelve years. The CACRC receives donations of used computer/electronic equipment. Samples of the material that the CACRC accepts are: PCs, monitors, scanners, printers, fax machines, keyboards, mice, phones, phone systems, cell phones, and cords/cables.
Located in downtown Baton Rouge, the CACRC collects material from around the state. In 2007-2008 we did 783 pick-ups of corporate and state equipment. We went to 85 cities and towns for corporate pickups and 43 cities and towns for state pick ups. Many of these are in small rural areas that have no other alternative for e-recycling. In Baton Rouge, the CACRC is a drop off center for residents and businesses and we receive drop off material every weekday: sometimes one computer, sometimes an 18 wheeler full of used equipment. In 2008 the CACRC recycle and reused over 1000 tons of equipment. The employees of the CACRC are the green collar jobs of the future working today.
A cornerstone program of the CACRC is our Computers for Louisiana Kids Program (CLK). The CACRC provides computers to schools with designated teachers and classrooms to train students in computer hardware. Currently there are 75 schools in the program with ~ 1000 students. In December 2008 the top CLK schools agreed to join with the CACRC to design a service program for the CLK students. CACRC agreed to refurbish computers and deliver these to targeted schools, the CLK students agreed to work on these computers and load operating systems. These computers will then be placed in Head Start programs in the state. CACRC contacted every Head Start program to determine needs in these schools. Most Head Start programs had no computers or outdated ones. To date the CACRC has delivered 64 computers to Head Starts, reaching 576 kids. We have set a goal of 500 computers for this semester (before the end of May) which will reach 9,000 kids. And the scope of the program is to install 2 computers in each classroom (average of 5 per program) of the 357 Head Start centers in Louisiana before the end of 2011. On average, 10 computers will be given to each center, reaching 81 kids, for more than 28,900 Louisiana pre-school kids.
The reuse of 1000 computer systems for this project in 2009 is the equivalent of saving the electricity to power 356 US house holds, greenhouse gas reduction of removing 258 passenger cars from the road per year, reduction is air emission of 17,090 tons, and an environmental cost savings of $358,725 (EPA environmental calculator).
The final project will reuse 3750 computer systems over the next three years.
This project is unique in that it combines environmental recycling benefits with important social benefits--educational/service opportunities for middle and high school students in the Computer for Louisiana Kids Program as well as supplying much needed technology to Head Start schools throughout the state of Louisiana. An individual recycling a computer system with the CACRC can reduce their carbon footprint while knowing their used computer will train students and be one of the first computers used by underserved preschoolers.
Many of the computers used for this project are state government surplus computers. The CACRC collects the computers from agency locations throughout the state. Monitors and computers are tested/refurbished by CLK technicians at the CACRC, and distributed to the schools. Any computer equipment that does not go to Head Start and needs to be recycled again, is picked up by the CACRC and finally recycled in an environmentally sound manner. The CACRC carefully selects the downstream vendors of our electronic material. One of our main vendors is Synergy Inc. of Mayodan, North Carolina. Synergy maintains quality and environmental management systems and is ISO 14001:2004 Certified. Every year they undergo a rigorous audit of their material by Dell. Materials are checked and weighed upon arrival and placed in secure holding areas until time to process them. Synergy has two main deconstruction areas where the bulk of materials are disassembled into component parts. Additionally, Synergy has two work areas where computers are tested and rebuilt for reuse.
CPUs are inspected to determine whether they warrant further testing. All hard drives are either wiped or shredded in-house to remove data. Synergy sells re-useable parts and systems into the national resale market to extend the life of components. Materials are sold into the secondary metals markets for recycling. Circuit boards are sent to US refiners for recycling. Power supplies are sold as copper bearing to domestic and international buyers.
Technology Resource Center Provides Free Classes in Ohio
Easter Seals Technology Resource Center in Dayton, Ohio provides
refurbished computers to special education classrooms in 5 Miami Valley counties. They empower people with developmental or acquired disabilities by providing services using assistive technology; including voice recognition, specialized input and output devices, augmentative and alternative communication devices.
The Resource Center offers individuals, families, and professionals a place to learn about and experience assistive communication devices for children and adults who are unable to speak, read, or write. They have been a National Cristina Foundation partner organization since 2002. Their coordinator, Kevin Leonard of the Resource Center recently told us....
From his letter:
The National Cristina Foundation has allowed us to refurbish computers and give them to people with disabilities. We have become a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher and load Windows 2000, learning software and include a 17 inch monitor, mouse and keyboard.
We are also providing free computer classes so that people can receive basic computer skills on how to use their computers. We are giving out 10-15 computers a month. These computers are giving people with disabilities computer skills so that they can become gainfully employed.
We recently gave six computers to individuals at an Habilitation Center so that they can practice the skills they learn during the day on their own computer when they go home in the evening.
Two Computer Labs Created in Detroit
The New Beginning Full Gospel Church in Detroit, Michigan has worked to provide computer access and training to low income residents of their community. As they describe for us in the letter below, their computer labs serve many needs.
Years ago, we connected with The Cristina Foundation while searching the internet. During our relationship with The Cristina Foundation we have received so many computers that we now have one complete lab and working on our second one. Our laboratory is filled with computers along with scanners, printers and also a copier.
We were able to implement a computer program that ages from 4 years old to Senior citizens could take advantage of to develop their computer knowledge.
We have an open lab, where students are allowed to come in after school to complete homework assignments when computers are not available to them at home. We also have handicapped youth and adults to whom we were able to loan a computer for their homes.
Our senior citizens are so excited about their new knowledge of computer technology. The project encourages the exchange of the of technology information with and among adults, children, the handicapped, families, and community.
All of the donors have been so cordial and gracious when we either pick up or they deliver the computer equipment. If it were not for The Cristina Foundation none of this excitement would be happening. Thanks goes out to the Cristina Foundation for their continued support.
Pastors Roosevelt & Sharon Davis
Donated Computers Aid Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury
The International Center for the Disabled was founded in New York in 1917 as the first comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation center in the United States. Over the past 86 years, the agency has served more than a quarter of a million individuals with every type of disability and from all walks of life. They have been a National Cristina Foundation partner for more than a decade. A recent letter shares both the utility of a donated computer --and the power it can have to transform people's lives.
The International Center for the Disabled (ICD) has received numerous equipment donations from the National Cristina Foundation. One very exciting project that benefited from a recent donation is our Center for Brain Injury Rehabilitation, which provides comprehensive treatment to individuals recovering from traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI- whether from stroke, motor vehicle accident, fall, brain tumor, or other cause- affects millions of people each year in the United States alone. Even the mildest forms of TBI can result in life-altering impairments, including loss of cognitive functioning, loss of memory, difficulties with speech and hearing, mobility issues, and others.
Last year, with the help of computers donated by NCF, we introduced a special computer lab component to the program. For most of us, computer usage has become a part of our daily routines that requires minimal thought. But for people with brain injuries, even basic computer tasks (turning the machine on, logging in and out, maneuvering a mouse or typing with a keyboard) can present daunting cognitive challenges.
Studies strongly indicate that using computers in a group setting like our lab has an important “normalizing” effect for people with brain injuries: they are able to build their communication skills while working with one another, and their self-esteem and self-efficacy also thrive.
One recent success story concerns Philip, who had suffered a stroke that caused partial paralysis of his left side, as well as significant cognitive impairments. In the years following Philip’s stroke, he battled depression, becoming increasingly socially isolated, and eventually completely estranged from his family and friends.
When he came to ICD, he was extremely depressed and pessimistic about his future. He was particularly skeptical about his ability to use a computer and resisted attending the new computer lab. Eventually, with the support of the clinical team and his counselors, he agreed to try. To his great surprise and joy, he discovered that within a few weeks he had mastered the ability to operate the computer using only his right hand. Center staff was amazed at the dramatic change in Philip’s attitude and mood. For the first time, he expressed satisfaction and pleasure in his achievements, and his outlook brightened significantly.
Staff continued to work closely with Philip, offering their encouragement. Eventually, he was persuaded to try using his left hand to operate the computer. Client and staff alike were delighted that he was able to control the hand enough to manipulate the keys while typing. Philip’s depression has decreased significantly since this accomplishment and he now attends the lab regularly. Philip has also used the Internet to reconnect with loved ones, including a relative in Argentina who invited him to visit. Impressively, Philip was able to make the international trip unaccompanied, and with limited assistance. Philip’s progress is truly an inspiration to his fellow clients as well as to our staff.
Donated Computers Lead to Special Job Skills
Asian Rehabilitation Services (ARS) is a non-profit community based agency in Los Angeles. Since 1972, they have assisted adults with disabilities to overcome personal, environmental and societal barriers to increase their employability and daily living skills. They have been a National Cristina Foundation partner organization for more than 5 years.
They wrote that:
Asian Rehabilitation Service, Inc. (ARS) is one of many non-profit organizations fortunate to benefit from donations of electronic equipment from the National Cristina Foundation. Our agency has received personal computers, photocopiers, and other technological equipment which has increased the organization’s ability to assist approximately one hundred adults with severe to moderate developmental disabilities who come to our center each day for job skills training and support services.
Due to their cognitive impairments, exceptional effort is required to train most individuals with this type of disability to work efficiently with modern communications technology. Yet, with the help of the National Cristina Foundation some of these individuals are successfully learning skills in an industry that continues grow.
An example is Euclepio who in his late teens was referred to ARS for employment services, eight years ago. His developmental disability hinders his ability to learn new information as well as impedes his ability to obtain and retain competitive employment. After spending months in our centers packaging and assembly training program staff observed his interest and exceptional aptitude for rapidly building boxes, packing, taping, shrink-wrapping and banding. He seemed to have a natural way with hand held tools.
Wanting to build upon his strengths and increase his independence, Euclepio was transitioned into a supported employment group of four persons working as a member of our custodial team earning minimum wage with benefits where he continued to flourish.
ARS began to develop its information technology (IT) unit and saw an opportunity to develop another training program. Several staff members immediately recommended Euclepio as a potential trainee. Using the equipment obtained through the National Cristina Foundation, Euclepio has learned how to install computer software, run virus checks, install hardware and hard drives, rebuild computers, and run cabling as well as becoming a tremendous asset to our IT unit.
As a direct result of the partnership between ARS and the National Christina Foundation, ARS was able to provide on-the-job training. Starting last year, Euclepio transitioned from an individual receiving employment services to an ARS employee as an Information Technology Assistant. He continues to receive technological training and mentorship from his IT Manager and is learning how to model appropriate communications practices and behavioral skills that will continue to help him advance in his career.
Other individuals, like Euclepio, with various types of disabilities (epilepsy, mental retardation, autism and cerebral palsy) who receive services at ARS are benefiting from the generosity of the National Cristina Foundation’s computer donors. Some are learning how to start programs and interact with keyboards for the first time, while more advanced users are learning office work skills including data entry, photocopying and sending fax messages.
On behalf of the ARS Board of Directors, Executive Management Team, Staff, the individuals we serve and their families we are extremely appreciative of the role that National Cristina Foundation has played in helping us achieve our mission assisting persons with severe disabilities to achieve their highest potential for self-sufficiency, independent living and community inclusion. National Cristina Foundation, WE LOVE YOU!
Ronald dela Cruz
Information Technology Manager
Asian Rehabilitation Service, Inc.