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APCUG Reports
July-September 2007

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Community Service Ideas
by Don Singleton, APCUG President
president@apcug.net

I already announced that because I was going to urge everyone in this year's Jerry Award Competition to prepare their entries in a WebSite format like the Tulsa Computer Society's Helping Tulsa (http://helpingtulsa.org/) does, we would NOT be entering the contest this year, to be fair to everyone. But we developed a few ideas this year that I wanted to share, and since I would not have an entry to point to, I thought I would just use APCUG Reports to share them with everyone. One thing we learned in HelpingTulsa is that regardless of how good someone's idea was, someone else could improve on it, and I will be interested to see if anyone comes up with any improvements on these ideas.

Children's Image

We develop a collection of public domain and shareware application programs targeted to a specific audience, and then make a Ghost image of it, to let us install it on multiple refurbished machines. One time St Mark's Methodist Church was holding a summer day camp for children of grades 1 through 6, and they came to us for help. I had a CD of educational programs that I had downloaded, and two teachers with the Summer Day Camp program went through them and said this program is good for grades 1-3, this one for grades 2-4, this one for grades 2-3, etc. I installed all of the programs, and then put a shortcut to the program in as many of six folders as was appropriate, and fixed icons for the numbers 1 through 6 for the folders, so that a child can click on the number of the grade they are in, and it opens a folder with all of the programs they should be able to run.

We first provided it to St Mark's Methodist Church, but it then became our most popular image (if you want a CD of all of the programs or a GHO file (to use with Ghost) of the image let me know). We provided them to after school programs, day care centers, low income apartment units that wanted to set up a room with computers all residents could use, etc. We provided them to some rural schools, but Tulsa Public School was not interested, because they had so much money from a recent tax levy that they could afford to buy brand new computers for their schools.

I had one of my volunteers pull an inventory of machines we had refurbished, and out of 56 units, 37 were with the Children's image. I tried to think what can we do to find people that need these machines, and then it came to me. I called Tulsa Public School system and asked which elementary school was in the part of town with the lowest per capita income (they call them “at risk” schools), and then I called the Guidance Counselor at that school and asked if they would be interested in 10 or 20 computers to distribute to the most deserving students. They thought it was a wonderful idea. They already select a Student of the Month, and now they would have something to give them besides a certificate. They would have a computer of their own at home. I asked her to put me in touch with a couple of other "at-risk" schools, and they loved the idea too. One school is going to distribute computers based on reading scores in the standardized tests, and the other school is still trying to decide how to distribute theirs, but all love the idea of encouraging their students to excel, because they have a chance of winning a computer of their own. And just think of what that can do to improve their chances in life.