Tech en la Casa celebrated another edition of what this writer calls my favorite non-profit by having a recognition night for the students who participated in the Spring classes. Also recognized were the people who help make this all happen. Founded in 2011, like many Michigan residents, when there is a problem one works on finding a solution. These are the sentiments of retired Lansing School District administrator and teacher, Andrea Rodriguez who wrote a $19,000 grant to begin a new bilingual English/Spanish computer course for Spanish-speaking parents at Cristo Rey Community Center.
The technology project offered by Cristo Rey Community Center is made possible by a grant from the Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters Resource Sharing Program. Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters is a religious community of women dedicated to proclaiming the Word of God, fostering justice, standing in solidarity with the poor and promoting the development of leaders.
Although no one qualified to graduate from the program, there were quite a few students who took time from their busy lives and schedules to attend some of the classes. The hope is that they return to finish what they started in the fall term. The program teaches basic computer skills to the Spanish community although it is bilingual. Many of the students are people who just haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to use a computer, so learning email, Skype, social media has given so many people in the Lansing area different ways to communicate with friends, family and especially loved ones who might live in other States, or even other countries.
So why is this my favorite non-profit? Because it closes the gap in those communication lines not only long distance, but within the city. I have personally met people in this program who felt left out of the community or as one named Ingrid once said upon her graduation, “I now feel like I have a voice in the community”. She felt left out and disconnected in her own city. About ten days after this Tech Night, I ran into Ingrid and her husband Chris dancing the night away on the “Salsa On the Water” that was held on the Michigan Princess. And, uh, they can dance!
The TECH Three-tiered Goal:
1. To teach parents/guardians to gain basic computer skills to support their
children’s academic achievement.
2. To connect students in elementary and secondary school to parents/guardians
and to promote confidence to improve behavior and academic achievement.
3. To motivate university students (undergraduate and graduate) to complete
their studies through mentoring opportunities and understanding the
importance of their role in serving the community.
When a program can not only teach skills, but offer a way to become more connected to family and friends, it becomes a program that offers life to peoples personal lives. It offers opportunities to grow and to share their own personal stories. And let’s face it. We all have a story to tell, these folks just didn’t have many people to share their story with and now they do. Ingrid and Chris, whose daughter dances folkloric dance with a local group, now feel like Lansing is their home. And I have never asked them, but did Ingrid really believe she only signed up to learn basic computers skills?
Or call the Cristo Rey Community Center at 517-372-4700