Since 1996, DACS has maintained an active program to refurbish used computers for donation to local non-profit organizations and schools.
The mother lode
In February 2000, DACS hit the mother lode. Ed Heere, president of AMSYS Computer in Ridgefield, a DACS member and former chairman of our board, learned that Danbury Hospital was about to replace some of its computers with newer technology. Ed asked the hospital to make the computers available to DACS so we could distribute them to needy non-profit organizations. In February 2000, Danbury Hospitals Information and Technology Group agreed to donate close to 300 computers for the DACS project. Most of the computers were 486 processors, keyboards, and mice.
Once the regions corporate community became aware of the hospitals donation, others joined the effort. Within a short time, Cendant Mobility donated 300 monitors; Raytheon jumped in with about 50 monitors and some additional PCs; then Praxair supplied the project with about 50 monitors and PCs.
The stacks of boxed monitors were so large we had to estimate the depth of the pile. In March 2000, when we informed Cendant that we did not have space to store all these monitors, they offered DACS the use of their warehouse for the duration of the project.
In a short time, DACS had found itself with more than 450 computers, some of them non-functioning. After evaluating all the systems, we wound up with about 300 that were usable. To-date, over 300 computer systems have been delivered as described below.
Establishing a plan
The original plan was to use the warehouse area to build the systems, but this proved impractical. At this time Ed Heere offered over 800 square feet of office space at AMSYS for the computer assembly area. Then, with the assembly resources lined up, we appealed to Microsofts regional office for software, and were given site licenses to install Windows and MS Works on each of the donated computers. Microsoft has always been generous in supporting user groups, and particularly in promoting our efforts on behalf of Voice for Joanie.
A call for DACS volunteers resulted in over 50 offers. A schedule was worked out to use the AMSYS training facility and two production teams were activated. The first team, lead by Tom McCarthy, was scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, with the second team, led by Norm Geril, meeting on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Though each team had over eight volunteers, only four could work at a time due to the limited space. All volunteers were invited to join these teams and were placed on call to help deliver machines.
The manufacturing activity included cleaning the covers and the keyboards, wiping all information off the hard drives, installing the software, checking out the systems, handling the requests for equipment, generating publicity, managing the parts supply, and delivering the systems. The teamwork has been exemplary and the quality of the finished product outstanding. Some of the systems were scrapped after removing reusable parts.
Promotion and Publicity
From its inception, the project has been widely reported in The Danbury News Times and in dacs.doc. We have also received the 2000 Jerry Award from the Association of PC User Groups. The $750 prize, established by APCUGs former president Jerry Schneider to recognize outstanding user group community service, was transferred to Voice for Joanie for its work on behalf of ALS victims.
The non-profit organizations receiving computers fell into three functional categories:
Children could learn to use a computer, keyboard, mouse and display; compose and write letters and documents; or Learn to create a spreadsheet using MS WORKS. Some schools added CD ROMS and sound cards at extra cost for running educational software.
Recipients in this class were Catholic Family Services, Childrens Center, Hartford Christian Acadamy, King Street UC School, Melrose School, St. Peters School, St. Josephs School, Ridgefield High School, St .Johns School, IBPOEofW, and Portuguese Cultural Center
Recipients in this class were: Literacy Volunteers, TBCIO, Bethel Senior Center, Brookfield Senior Center, Carmel Senior Center, Danbury Senior Center, Ridgefield Senior Center, Redding Senior Center, Heritage Heights Nursing Home, Second Home of Brookfield, and New Heights Nursing Home.
Computers donated for office work: Recipients in this class were Earth Watch, Interfaith Aides Ministry, DATAHR, Mental Health, The Volunteer Center, Danbury Regional Commission on Mental Retardation, and North Salem Historical Society,
Where do we go from here?
Over the past few years the price of PC systems has dropped by 50 to 75% and the speed of PC processors has increased 10 to 20 times. As corporations and individuals replace older systems, they have looked for a new home for their old PCs. At the present time the following organizations have come forward to offer PC distribution projects:
The World Help Foundation in Newtown (203-270-7853) will accept all vintage PC and Macintosh systems and components, for shipment to third world counties. The World Help Foundation also manufactures and ships water purification equipment to third world countries.
Computers for Kids in Waterbury (203-591-1714) accepts Pentium class PCs and distributes them in the local area at a nominal cost.
DACS plans to terminate the 300 machines project when it exhausts the software licenses donated by Microsoft. In the future, we will continue to assist donors in finding homes for their older equipment.
All the above organizations are IRS 501 (c) (3) corporations and accept donations of funds to support their operations.
|Charlie Bovaird is a former quality control expert for IBM, a member of the board and DACS Treasurer. He is a STICKLER for doing things right.|