"Non-profit group finds new homes for old computers"
By Susan Bullard. Special To The Gazette-Journal, Saturday, November 25, 2000
Two enormous warehouses are easily overlooked on the hill near eastbound Highway 50. But inside the 40,000 square feet, there are thousands of donated computers, all ready to be torn down, recycled or rebuilt.
Who is doing this? Volunteers. Who gets the computers? Anyone who needs them.
Ron Norton is the head of ComputerCorp, a nonprofit organization in Carson City. Last month, Gov. Kenny Guinn's Commission on Aging honored ComputerCorp with its Inspirational Community Service Award.
Norton used to be in banking finance and specialized in leasing computers, but soon discovered he liked playing with the computers more than dealing with bankers.
In 1990, his wife, Judy, was concerned about her elderly father living alone with just the TV for company. They gave him a computer, even though he didn't want one. Today, he spends two to three hours a day teaching others how to use computers.
"So, Judy says why don't we do this for other people?" Norton said. Together, they came up with ComputerCorp.
Norton's experience with his father-in-law showed a great divide between younger people, who are familiar with computers, and older citizens, who often are not.
"Seniors were originally our first focus,' Norton said. "Seniors are just totally left out of the computer revolution."
The organization also focuses on low-income children, Norton said. The group is working with Libby Booth Elementary School in Reno, where 250 children are targeted to receive computers.
"We have the computers, we just need money for the parts and volunteers to put them together to make that program work," he said.
ComputerCorp's third focus is on the handicapped, people who can enhance their lives through technology.
"With computers they can enable themselves," Norton said. Half the warehouse is dedicated to classroom space. There, on brightly colored casino-style carpet donated by the Pinon Plaza, senior citizens receive computer training. Retired junior high principal Mavis Scarff has volunteered to run the computer classes.
"With the advent of e-mail, many seniors are more interested in getting a computer to keep in touch with their families," she said. "We can help them do that."
Larry Booth, a retired Volunteers mainframe computer programmer from All State Insurance, uses his expertise to help volunteers rebuild the machines.
"This is a great way to use my skills and help others at the same time", Booth said.
Norton said he has about 90 active volunteers "We have no employees, no paid staff. We rely solely on volunteers," he said. More than 600 people have donated computers to the group, while more than 300 businesses have chipped in, Norton said. Local, county and state agencies also have contributed to the program.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Volunteers to ComputerCorps can receive credit for their work, which can be used to get computers, software, printers, repair or training. Those interested can call (775) 883-2323.