Lowe’s grant provides updated software, furniture, for SHA computer labs
A generous grant from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation has enabled the Springfield Housing Authority to update software and furniture in computer labs at five residential developments.
The $15,897 Lowe’s grant helped to modernize computer labs at Duggan Park, Reed Village, Riverview, Robinson Gardens and Sullivan Apartments.
The software and equipment mean residents and other users of the publicly accessible labs can use the latest available methods to further their education and job skills, write and send out resumes, and hunt for jobs. For children, it means updated electronic methods to boost literacy, do homework, and gain keyboarding and other computer skills.
SHA Executive Director William H. Abrashkin said the Lowe’s grant is helping SHA residents and others in their ongoing quests for self-improvement, job skills, and financial independence.
The Lowe’s grant, close to $16,000, may not sound like a lot of money for a large organization, but our staff does a lot with a little,” noted Abrashkin.
“We all know that one cannot participate in the world of today’s education and economy without access to computers and computer skills. The upgrades to computers and associated equipment funded by this grant will help our residents as they improve job skills and apply for jobs, and help our young people as they seek to further their education at all levels,” he continued.
“It is a win-win-win all around and we are very appreciative of the Lowe’s Foundation for providing these opportunities for our residents,” Abrashkin said.
The Lowe’s-funded updates augmented another recent City of Springfield grant of $20,000 that last year brought in 60 new computers, monitors and laptops to the labs.
SHA officials worked closely with Boston Road Lowe’s Manager Miriam Krieger-Slen and ProServices Specialist Jim Miner, who gave help through the process of procuring and installing. Lowe’s employees Kevin Cabrera and Michael O’Connor also helped, along with SHA Information Technology staffers Steven Ethier, Sheila Harris and Al Mitchell.
For those who use the technology, the updated software is a pleasure to learn on and use. The new furniture also makes the process more comfortable, all agreed.
“Overall, the upgrade allows for a compatible and efficient user experience,” said Chris Trevethan, ESOL/ELA instructor working directly with residents in the labs.
“The Microsoft Office suite gets the most use in terms of software applications, particularly Word and PowerPoint. Additionally, students and residence have access to all that the upgrade provides for their individual needs and choices for accomplishing particular tasks,” he added.
The software brings students up to date in important ways as they pursue educational and career goals, Trevethan noted.
“Students need and deserve tools and resources that are standard and current with those being used in fields and industries in which they are pursuing work and careers. In addition to these benefits, the upgrade alleviates complications and frustrations that are amplified in computer literacy training and user experiences when tools and resources aren’t working effectively and efficiently,” he said.
In the Deborah Barton Neighborhood Network Center lab at Sullivan, ESOL students Edmary Velez Burgos and Ashley Rivera Garcia agreed that the updated software is adding good value to their learning sessions with Trevethan. After improving their English skills, both are aiming to get jobs to help support their families.
“I’m learning a lot of things,” said Velez Burgos, who left her home in Puerto Rico earlier this year.
“I want to speak English so that I can find a job here,” she said.
Rivera Garcia agreed, saying, “I am here so I can find a job and to help my son, who is autistic. He speaks more English.”
She left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, which closed down needed services for her young son.
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