Refurbished Computers, Renewed Lives

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Refurbished Computers, Renewed Lives

The Aberg Center for Literacy’s East Dallas location had a successful program teaching English and citizenship to immigrants determined to improve their lives in America.

What it didn’t have were computers. So the students had to make their way to Aberg Center’s main location near downtown for enrollment and testing, and were unable to take much needed computer literacy classes.

Then Echo Environmental stepped in. Last year the company refurbished 15 desktop computers and set up a computer lab at Casa Linda United Methodist Church, where the thriving program is held.

“The donation saved us thousands and thousands of dollars that we could put into programming instead,” said Brendan Alexander, adult program manager at the Aberg Center. “It completely changed the situation here.”

Now a former storeroom at the church houses rows of desks, computer cases and monitors used by several generations of learners, both day and evening.

The Aberg Center, founded in 2002, provides English language instruction and GED preparation to adult immigrants to help them succeed in their adopted country and help their children in school. The courses, which serve more than 200 people at a time, also include enrichment programs covering everything from health and finance to employment and citizenship.

Computers play a big role in all that. At the keyboard, Alexander said, students learn to set up email accounts, fill out forms online, utilize Web-based resources, even create pamphlets.

“Some people come with good life skills and some don’t,” he said. “It’s pretty gratifying to see how far we can take them.”

Esmerelda Patino is just one example of that.

“The computer class was very good for me because in addition to learning how to use certain programs, I learned new English words,” she said. “Since then, the knowledge that I was taught I am now using to help my son with his homework.”

The computers also contain educational programs for children attending after-school and summer programs at the church. Alexander said his staff can usually handle maintenance and software issues themselves, but occasionally will call on Echo’s IT staff for support.

“They didn’t just drop them off,” he said. “They continue to be involved.”

Echo Enviromental President Tommy McGuire, whose family has been involved with the Aberg Center for years, said the company was delighted to help.

“We tear down and recycle electronic components, but we also refurbish and remarket equipment for our clients, which is equally valuable for protecting the environment,” he said. “So when we learned about the Center’s needs, we thought we could make a difference. It makes all of us here happy to know we’re helping people build lives here and contribute to society.”

For more information about the Aberg Center, and to donate or volunteer, go to abergcenter.org. They do great and important work, and Echo Environmental is proud to be part of it.