PRC Computer Program Celebrates 15 Years
On April 8th, 1997, Frank Goetz began teaching PRC’s first computer class – with just 3 computers set up in a classroom at the Marian Park Apartments in Wheaton. Over 15 years this program has made a major impact toward bridging the “digital divide” for low-income DuPage residents.
Frank Goetz teaching a class in Wheaton
Well over 9,000 refurbished home computers have been distributed to low-income families and more than 7,500 people have taken computer classes to learn everything from basic computer skills up to advanced Excel. PRC’s classes help people build their skills to thrive now that computer technology is everywhere and computer skills are required.
PRC computer student, Sheela, described her first day in the computer lab in a letter she sent to People’s Resource Center last fall:
“No sooner I entered the computer lab I was greeted by friendly computer staff that informed me about all the classes including ‘Open Training.’ There, I saw persons of all ages, all nationalities and different religions in the class trying to learn different aspects of computers. Some trying to move the mouse for the first time, some doing clip art in Power Point and some auto filling in Excel work.
“What I admired most was the staff guiding the students with different problems from Word, Power Point to Excel with equal enthusiasm, knowledge, confidence, utmost patience and eager to teach. The students are also less threatened because of teacher’s willingness to guide them through their problems. The students are also given computers for their homework, additional step to better their lives. I am deeply touched. Therefore, I can’t help but appreciate and thank the computer staff, teachers as well as volunteers and of course, PRC organization which is doing such a noble work of helping students to excel in their lives.”
Sheela’s words sum up the vision People’s Resource Center set out to accomplish when it broadened its scope of work beyond basic services by adding its Empowerment Programs in 1997. People of different ages, nationalities, religions and knowledge bases come together to learn and teach. Adult learners overcome their hesitation to return to the classroom, with the support of their neighbors. Community volunteers identify and share resources that can be of help to others. Sheela, in fact, plans to become a PRC volunteer once she’s finished her own training so that she can help others learn computer skills.
In the last 15 years, People’s Resource Center has worked together with community partners and volunteer tutors to make the program a success. Nearly a dozen community partners across the county work with us to host classes and 175 volunteers annually teach classes, staff our computer labs, and refurbish and repair home computers.
Cadence Hospital, College of DuPage, Community High School District 99, Baird and Warner and the Northern Illinois Food Bank as well as many other local businesses and individuals donate hundreds of computers and monitors each year to support our computer refurbishing team.
People’s Resource Center thanks everyone past and present who have supported this endeavor and made it what it is today.