HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas (KXXV) -- Caseworkers and staff at the Garden of Hope Central Texas work year-round to ensure foster children have everything they need to succeed, but thanks to a recent donation, their jobs just got a little easier.
An anonymous donation of 400 MacBook computers was recently given to the nonprofit, with the goal of refurbishing all 400 computers and giving them to the kids at the facility.
Garden of Hope Central Texas is a nonprofit that specializes in securing placement for larger sibling groups in foster care to ensure they can stay together. The emergency shelter focuses on mental and physical health, as well as technology and education while children are at their facility.
Melissa Picon, a case manager at Garden of Hope, says an IT professional has volunteered to come down and show the kids how to repair the computers one-on-one. She calls it an incredible opportunity for the kids in their care.
“Some of our kids may never have had the opportunity to be introduced to a STEM program or anything hands-on. This gives us just that opportunity to provide them with something extra and hopefully maybe create that interest,” Picon said.
In the world of remote learning, it's common to see many foster kids without access to the technology needed to participate, let alone having opportunities for STEM education. Soon, both of these problems will be addressed, with a program dedicated to teaching kids the ins and outs of computers.
“Most of our kids definitely know how to use technology, but it's knowing how to fix it instead of just going to buy a new one. This will give them some of that base knowledge and make sure that when they leave, they have access to some type of technology that they can get online and communicate with,” Picon said.
“Nowadays, in every job that we see, it needs some extent of computing knowledge, even in areas of business accounting management, you name it. Even in the early stages, students can learn new software and maybe a new skill set and nurture it as they grow up,” explained Dr. Abhijit Nag, professor of computer information systems at A&M-Central Texas.
Dr. Nag feels introducing kids to technology can open up a world of possibilities and spark an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math-related fields.
“I think that's a really great initiative for our nonprofit community to really come forward, and really helps our young generation to get the first exposure on those particular areas, especially in computer hardware and software to some extent," he said.
While a new computer is great to have, it’s bigger than that. Picon says it’s another tool these foster kids can use to find their own voice.
“Whether it’s in school, whether it's what you want to do in the future, even knowing about their case. It’s all about helping them figure out how we can help them advocate for themselves,” she said.
It will cost about $60 to restore each computer.
Picon says volunteers are always welcomed.