More Power to the People

Or at least to the people’s computers.

We are cleaning the lab now. Live Wire Electric, Inc. finished pulling wire and making up the receps by 10:00 this morning, just as they said they would. Kinda rare to find a contractor that does what they promise. They also donated a pile of labor to this effort, so if anyone needs electrical work done, feel free to call 260.456.1400 or email to schedule an estimate.

Right Thinking

‎”For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it.” Rene Discartes, Discourse on the method of rightly conducting the reason, and seeking truth in the sciences

As most of you already know since you are interested enough to follow us on this web site, we help a large number of American citizens who have worked mostly in factories here in Fort Wayne for maybe 35 years, then the factory closed and they were out of work, their retirement income went south in the pockets of the management of the company, and they are told to ‘go get a job’ at 60-some years of age.  This is a real challenge for anyone, but for non-technical people who have never used a computer before in their lives, it can seem impossible.

Since 2003 we have bridged that gap for those Americans, and for a few other groups (such as Burmese children and youth who were invited to live in Fort Wayne by our government, hosted by local charities) in cooperation with our governments and other charities. Last year alone we helped over 600 persons in classes. We have a 100% success rate for those who stay with the program, and we never give up on anyone.

As Descartes wrote, it is not only intellect that matters, but how that intellect is used. I have seen this over and over again as Americans written off by everyone else as too old, or too slow, grow under our patient instruction until they can in fact use the computer at least well enough to search for a job on-line, write a simple letter, make a presentation, read and write their email, and even create a simple budget using a spreadsheet. We use the free and freely available open source software Sun (Oracle) Open Office under both Ubuntu Linux and Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office 2007 under Microsoft Windows. Applying their minds to the work at hand, everyone can eventually overcome. A healthy and growing mind is important to continued overall health, and the ability to support one’s self with a modicum of dignity in society.

The feedback our Seniors get on their progress is good. This is part of an email from one program director in the largest charity in the United States, to her participants in one of our computer job skills training programs:

I wanted to take the time to tell you all I AM PROUD OF YOU GUYS!!!!! For those of you who have been there for a little while, you have gotten great experience on the computer. For those of you just beginning, please hold on tight and be ready to learn.

And in an email to me from the program director:

I wanted to thank you for the superb training that you are providing. Everyone that comes through your computer class will be a step ahead. If there are other trainings … we’d be more than happy to sponsor again.
Also, please tell (name withheld for privacy) I was especially proud of his report!
Mr. Nash, thank you for your dedication and compassion when it comes to teaching the Senior AIDES.

Occasionally detractors will arise. This last week, for example, we received a ‘donation’ for one penny from a person who wrote the following in email to explain his action:

‎‎”I donated a whole penny, because I believe your education, you as an individual, and you helping those that came here from another country taking jobs AWAY from those out there whom can’t find work is worth it. Thanks for sticking to the American dream and educating those that come over out of poverty and help taking those jobs away.” (sic)

I have labored at this mission for what, eight years now? I have never yet received a pay check from this work: I do other work on the side to try to support my family. Donations go 100% to the work, not to my own wealth. There are 11 American Seniors who have a job today because we made a place for them to train and grow, socially and professionally; the Burmese youth don’t take jobs away from anyone as they are school children; we aren’t paid one dime to help any of them, but we are glad to do so. How can anyone not recognize how much poverty we have right here in this country? Sigh. ‎”For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it.”

This individual thought that he could hurt us by ‘donating’ one cent using the PayPal button above. He knew that PayPal charges 30 cents per donation plus a bit more, I think 3.5%, for their fees. His reasoning was that PayPal would then give us no money at all and instead charge us 29 cents for his donation. I guess he does not believe American Seniors should be allowed to work — his thinking may be more along the lines of Scrouge in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol:  “let them die and be quick about it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Still, he has stirred up a good point: Adult Life Training, Inc. needs supplies to continue its mission: we need HP Laserjet cartridges, printer paper, and other things which just do not magically appear on their own. I need a full time receptionist secretary, and have identified someone who can do the job, but she needs to be paid something.

If we are ever going to complete our renovation of the computer lab to change it into a full cybercafe with comfortable furniture and modern notebooks students and business people can borrow while they are here to check their email or work, as well as for our students to use during classes, those will not magically appear on their own either.

I am willing to do the hard part: I have been since 2003: but I need your help.

I realize the economy is down — we all hurt — but even small donations right now can help make a difference.

Can you afford to skip one restaurant meal and donate the money instead to this work? The PayPal button is up in the corner — just click it and donate.

Can you afford to help with even $10 or $20? The PayPal button is up in the corner — just click it and donate.

Do you know someone who really cares about our community who is able to give more? Tell them about us and help them find a higher level of personal fulfillment by helping us to help others.

New furniture, building materials, electricians, carpenters, or even a closed coffee shop which would like to donate their counter and working equipment could help us toward the goal.

Verizon Foundation has already come forward with the most expensive part, two 55″ LED LCD Monitor screens, a new computer for the instructor, and an audio system.

And maybe you can show this one penny guy a more proper way to reason.

Good Sense

Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess.
Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, Chapter 1