This article is a little different than I usually write, but I am very proud of an organization I belong to and the man who started it because the majority of its success goes to him. APCUG (the Association of Personal Computer User Groups) gives service awards each year to Computer Societies for service to their community. The Tulsa Computer Society received the prize for the Best Short Term project this year. In actuality, it was an organization from the Tulsa Computer Society headed by TCS President Don Singleton that earned this reward. Helping Tulsa, started by Don in conjunction with Jim Erwin from Bethesda Boys Ranch in Oklahoma, takes donations of old computers and refurbishes them, puts operating systems on them, and freeware programs, and then gives them to nonprofit organizations completely free of charge. These organizations could not have afforded these computers. A stumbling block to the project involved using a Microsoft operating system legally. Microsoft has authored a program entitled, the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher Donation Program and at this time it is in a Pilot Program mode. Helping Tulsa is one of the projects that are participating in the Pilot Program, and we expect the program will soon expand to include other US nonprofit & school computer refurbishers.
My husband and I have worked with two senior citizen HUD sponsored Independent Living Centers and have set up a computer lab in each. It is really enjoyable to see how the computers are utilized. While I cannot speak for one of the centers, the computers in the one nearest where we live is maintained by one of the residents. Normally, we of Helping Tulsa try to train someone from each organization to be able to maintain the computers. Depending on the number of computers, we give them an "Imaging" machine that has a ghosted Image of the set up for the computers and teach them how to put it back on the individual hard drives should they become corrupted. More information and links to more Helping Tulsa web sites can be found at: http://www.tcs.org/ioport/dec02/helping.htm Also the main web site for Helping Tulsa is: http://www.helpingtulsa.org. This site will give more specifics about the organization and how it started.
On a personal note. When I first started working with the computer other than using it just for word processing, Don gave me my initial grounding in DOS which proved invaluable as I kept learning more about the computer. With his background as a programmer, he helped me cement initial concepts leading me to understand the functioning of a computer so I could not only work with it, but on it and troubleshoot it when necessary.