By Chris Matzen - Bremerton, WA
Posted December 13, 2002, 11:07am
Chris Matzen is a long time dBug Member who is making creative and generous use of his time and money by refurbishing older Macs for people who have very little access to the means to become computer literate.
I am shepherding the transfer of donated old Power Macs to persons now enrolled in programs for drug abuse and alcohol abuse recovery. Many persons who develop addictions dropped out of school. These persons are now often penniless and only some are able to work reliably. Most, but not all, of the people I am reaching are enrolled in programs run by the Agapé treatment people.
When I get an old Power Mac, I clean out the dust, run Norton Utilities on the hard drive, then install the Macintosh Basics tutorial and a few pieces of shareware like a Solitaire game for practice using the mouse. Sometimes I may install a hard drive, CD drive, or some more RAM. I make it clear to prospective beneficiaries that I am not giving away a turnkey Internet machine, but rather a way to gain basic computer literacy.
I have been seeking out donations of old SVGA monitors and Power Macs, preferably with CD drives and compatible printers. But pieces of same can often help. At the start of this venture, I was accepting 68K machines but soon decided that machines that old were barely good for hard drives, CD drives, and a few bezels to fit.
dBug members have been very generous with their Olde Mac collections. The donations have often been organized by our Volunteer Chairman Karen Lindner, but many have come just from responses to my posts in WaterCooler. This project was also given a carload of obsolete equipment from the dBug Resource Center, including the old overhead projector gear.
John Kincaid bought a vanload of old PowerMacs and 17" color monitors at a surplus auction for a sinfully low price, then gave most of it to this project. If you have been to John's apartment, then you know his philanthropy is also motivated by a need for between-the-Macs space to walk in!
Cherie Nickell has filled most of my 1987 Subaru wagon several times. So have Sandy Wing, Sam Herschbein, Gary Dufresne, Ben Werner, and several other persons. Dana Klein has channeled old Macs from his clients. Joyce Schowalter donated at least a Laserwriter Select 360 with only 28K page count, and I forget how much else. Bill Sullivan donated nearly a car full of Mac stuff and also helped me carry it all down the many steps from his front door to the street. I know I am likely forgetting some persons, but be assured that your donations are appreciated.
Along the way, I have been steered to good deals like ten 15" SVGA monitors, all tested and delivered to my place for $40 by a guy here in Bremerton who was cleaning out his garage. I tried buying pieces like bezels and RAM or CD drives on eBay, but soon decided that was too expensive even if I sold some of the donated stuff and used the money to pay for buying pieces. Shipping cost was often close to cost of the part. So I am pretty much cannibalizing some Macs to save the rest.
This project is taking a lot more time and money than I ever imagined it would. I started it back in July. Part of the delay has been caused by my fear of lifting more than 15 lbs because of hernia surgery clear back in April. Sometimes I lifted the monitors or computers anyway. Somehow, a new bulge has developed alongside the hernia repair mesh area. Maybe it was from going down the water slide at Green Lake's Evans Pool in mid-September during a family birthday party?
I had ten persons on my list for Macs as of late October. So far I have delivered only a few complete systems, but yesterday I did manage to get another person started on the MacBasics tutorial. She is now convinced that she can learn to use a Mac and returned home intent on figuring out what to throw out of her small apartment to make room for her computer.
Many thanks to all the dBug volunteers for their donations and efforts in getting all these Olde Macs and printers to this project. It will be a happier Holiday Season for at least some persons who can use a hand up.