A popular computer lab at the YWCA at 940 Powell Street in San Francisco is in danger of shutting down unless $20,000 can be found to keep it running. Students at the lab have reached out to the YWCA director and the greater community to try to save the program.
A VIBRANT INTERGENERATIONAL COMMUNITY
Until a few months ago, The YWCA hosted a lively computer lab Monday through Friday that was dedicated to serving local seniors and bridging the digital divide. In addition, basic computer classes, taught in Mandarin and English, aimed at low-income adults and seniors, were offered twice a week. Over 200 people visit the 12-computer lab yearly. Many have been regular attendees since I expanded the computer services in 2011.
The computer lab also has enjoyed an enthusiastic youth volunteer corps including Red Cross volunteers, MYEEP interns, and interns from various high schools and colleges in the Bay Area. Both the youth and the seniors have benefited from this intergenerational approach to learning. A vibrant community has developed at the YWCA. This community has been providing seniors and low-income adults with access to the Internet, knowledge on how to use computers, and a social network that promotes health and well-being.
A FUNDING CRISIS
Due to lack of funding, the YWCA lab can no longer offer computer classes. The hours of the lab have decreased, and the future of the tutoring program is uncertain. The possibility that the lab will be completely shut down looms like a dark cloud.
Naturally, the students were upset about this turn of events. Several of the students, fortified by their recently acquired computer skills in Microsoft Office, email, and Internet research, got together and wrote a letter to Jane Winter, the Executive Director of the YWCA of SF. The letter explained the importance of the computer lab and demanded that the lab stay open and that instruction be provided. Then the students collected over 150 signatures from the community.
A small delegation met with Ms. Winter to explain to her the urgency of providing this service. Ms. Winter was moved by their effort and is currently strategizing ways to find a new funding stream to keep this program running.
The students are currently reaching out to the greater community and to public officials for support. The students’ reaction to this situation is a remarkable example of the strength of the community that has developed as well as the incredible need for access to computers and education.
SUPPORT STILL NEEDED
Their fight is not over yet, since the $20,000 needed to provide instruction and access to computers and Internet has yet to be found. The question still remains: will this community of mostly senior women be able to continue to fight to save their computer lab and the social connection it provides? Can money be found to support their cause?
For more information about the YWCA of San Francisco Computer Lab or to offer support, please contact Huckleberry at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call (415) 434-0340. To learn more about the YWCA of San Francisco and Marin please go to www.ywcasf-marin.org
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