Computer center to help homeless get back on their feet
Date: 3/28/2011March 28, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD A donation of four computers is expected to be tools used by the homeless to help rebuild their lives.
Friends of the Homeless (FOH) on Worthington Street formally opened its computer center on March 26. The four computer stations were donated by the W.J. Denver Chapter of the Verizon Pioneers, a service organization comprised of Verizon employees and retirees.
The Verizon Pioneers select an organization each year that makes an impact on the community and this year the group chose the FOH.
"Verizon employees understood early on that they could have an impact in the lives of homeless individuals. They regularly donate their time and talent at FOH. The computer lab is the latest way they are supporting our efforts at FOH to truly change lives," FOH Executive Director Bill Miller said.
The computers are in the FOH Resource Center, the addition to the Worthington Street campus that was opened last November. The Resource Center is the location for the shelter for women, a communal dining hall and meeting area, offices and housing.
Clients will be able to use the new computers for job and housing searches, Miller told Reminder Publications.
Staff and volunteers at the shelter will help clients with resume writing, he added.
Miller said that more than half of the people who use the shelter's services have at least a high school diploma or a GED. Many have attended college as well.
Miller said that only a "handful" of homeless shelters across the country offer computer access to clients.
Computer searches for available housing is one of the tools people need to bridge the gap between staying in a shelter and finding permanent housing, he added.
Although FOH does not offer a job service, Miller said the new resource would allow people to build their own capabilities, something the challenging economy requires.
In 2010, the shelter served 1,169 people. Although the majority of the clients listed Springfield as their last permanent address, there were people from neighboring communities in Western Massachusetts, as well as from other parts of the Commonwealth and other states.