The Creston Leo Club and Better at Home are the proud owners of refurbished computers, thanks to an initiative of the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce.
In April, the chamber began accepting the donation of used computers and accessories, partnering with Swift Internet to clean and upgrade the machines, with the goal of passing them on to low-income families and individuals.
“We recognize that there is a need in the community and that some non-profits share that need,” says chamber manager Vern Gorham. “We’re happy to support them, as well. Whatever the need, we want to fill it.”
The Leo Club, which has about 20 members and is a youth organization of the Creston Lions Club, will use its new laptop to manage accounting software, says treasurer and past-president Dylan Smith.
“Right now, everything is on paper,” says Smith. “If we want to apply for grants, we need a proper statement.”
Last month, the Leo Club was the first organization to receive a computer, with the East Shore’s Better At Home — an East Shore extension of the Creston program run by Valley Community Services — receiving one a week later. Better at Home, which provides non-medical supports, such as transportation to medical appointments and grocery shopping, to seniors, had been struggling with an old computer, but couldn’t justify taking funds away from the provision of services.
“This new computer will help tremendously in keeping volunteers connected and save on administration time for information storage and retrieval, and connection to provincial Better at Home resources and training,” says Better at Home co-ordinator Ashlene Chadburn.
To provide the computers, the chamber accepts referrals from the Creston Valley Gleaners Society, Valley Community Services and Kootenay Employment Services, which identify appropriate clients. Those deemed eligible are sent to the chamber of commerce, where they receive a coupon to pick up a computer at Swift Internet, where owner Kitt Santano has volunteered time to refurbish the computers.
“I’m giving back to the community,” says Santano. “It’s nice to get some value out of something.”
His business and the chamber teamed up after hearing of a similar program in Cranbrook, where the chamber of commerce has partnered with Kootenay Computer and the Salvation Army to give computers — and accessories, such as monitors, keyboards and mice — to those in need.
With Swift on board, the chamber was excited to get started, collecting used computers at the Spring Trade Show in exchange for free admission.
“We just wanted to make a difference,” says Gorham. “After seeing the success in Cranbrook, I thought it was a brilliant idea.”