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Community Activities

Computers for Many

PC Community has a long history (20+ years) of donating computers to those whose lives can be changed by access to technology. Many computers have been refurbished by members and donated to members of the larger community.

Most of the work was done by members who are regular participants in activities at the Clubhouse. Donated computers and certain peripherals were received there, evaluated for their utilitarian value and processed for further use or disposal.

The Clubhouse also accepted requests for computers and/or peripherals. Once the request was approved, arrangements were made for the item (s) to be picked up. In some cases, if the recipient was not able to personally pick up the item (s) someone from this area would arrange the pickup. Often, additional support in the form of set up and follow-up was provided to make sure that the recipient can make use of the computer. More than 400 computers have been recycled and given to members of the community.

Special Needs Access Project

In the spring of 1993, the APCUG (Association of PC Users Groups), an international organization of PC users groups, worked with the Ziff-Davis Publishing Company to create REACH (Recognizing Exceptional Achievement in Community Help) a series of awards recognizing the community contributions made by PC user groups like ours. Backed by such notable sponsors as Apple Computer, Microsoft Corp., Panasonic Communications and Ziff-Davis, they recognized five categories of contribution: Education and Training, Environment and Conservation, Civic and Cultural Affairs, Social Welfare and Improvement, and Medicine and Health.

At the 1993 Spring COMDEX in Atlanta, Georgia, the first annual REACH awards were presented. PC Community received a $15,000 award in the category of Medicine and Health. This was a major achievement for PCC, a relatively small users group consisting of 300 members. The other recipient user groups ranged from 1,600 to 20,000 members in size.

The REACH award money was used by PCC's SNAP (Special Needs Access Project) to support to a variety of projects for people with special needs. SNAP has been able to help several students and young adults obtain Braille ' n Speaks, a PDA-like device that uses Braille input and output. PCC provided a follow-up grant as one of the recipients increased her skills so that she was ready to benefit from an upgrade in equipment and software.

The remaining SNAP funds were used to promote other member-sponsored projects for computer users with special needs. PCC/SNAP collaborated with the Visually Impaired Program in Oakland in setting up a learning center for younger (elementary school) pupils so that the technology provides a transparent window to education throughout their entire school careers. A musician ho suddenly lost function in her hands received financial support to obtain the specialized music software she needed, as well as the hardware it demanded; in the process, PCC members provided her with expert guidance in evaluating vendor offerings.

Other Projects

In the past, PCC has worked closely with Bay Talk, a San Francisco computer user group for the visually impaired, providing computer equipment and expertise to aid their members.

PCC also aided development of the BBS for the Disabled Children's Computer Group (DCCG) of Berkeley, CA. The BBS was honored by Boardwatch magazine as one of the ten best BBSes in the U.S. (DCCG--which has since changed its name to Center for Accessible Technology, CforAT, to better reflect its range of service--is the local branch of the Alliance for Technology Access.) The BBS operated for 5 1/2 years, then succumbed on July 31, 1998, due to the popularity of the web. The CforAT web site continues to provide information similar to that available on the BBS, including articles regarding speech input technology for PC.

PCC members, and PCC as an organization, have provided surplus computer equipment and accessories to the Oakland (California) Unified School District as school funds have become increasingly scarce. Not only have PCC members made donations, they have provided countless hours of technical assistance and have also served as conduits for donations from the community to the Oakland Schools and to others, often going to remote locations and transporting equipment.

PCC has provided several Braille 'n Speak handheld computers to students in the Oakland Programs for Exceptional Children (PEC). These devices were not available through the schools, other agencies, or the families' very restricted finances. Using this appropriate technology, blind students mainstreamed into regular high school classes preparing themselves to enter the adult world as productive citizens.

PCC funds have been provided to purchase more conventional computer equipment for groups such as the previously mentioned CforAT and ROTAPLAST4, a volunteer medical group providing corrective surgery to children in Latin America.

PCC has sponsored the Oakland Programs for Exceptional Children (PEC) in becoming a partner with the National Cristina Foundation. This partnership makes students and staff in PEC eligible to receive donated computers to enhance the instructional program through the use of technology.

As you can see from PCC's accomplishments, its size has not been a constraint on the quality of its services, and we will continue to use technology to enhance the community that we all enjoy.

For more information on donations and other projects, contact:

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Vice President for Special Projects
PC Community


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