Grier Heights computer lab comes to life

Volunteers from Sustain Charlotte’s Community Corps have partnered with CrossRoads Corporation and Grier Heights neighborhood volunteers to install 40 laptop computers in the Grier Heights Community Center.

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Many partners worked to make Grier Heights' Community Center computer lab a reality!

Frank Segal, a Community Corps volunteer who organizes the team’s technology partnership with Grier Heights, facilitated the donation of laptops from Skanska, an international project development and construction company. Skanska employee Donnie Malpass was the driver behind the project. He volunteered his time and skills to clean up the laptop hard drives and install new software on each one. According to Donnie, “I heard about Sustain Charlotte’s technology partnership with Grier Heights through a friend. Once I learned the history of the Community Center and its mission, I was excited to be able to contribute my time and effort to this important project.”

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SCCC volunteer Frank Segal and Skanska employee Donnie Malpass put the final touches on laptop installation.

For the past few months, the team has worked on logistics including layout of the computer lab, security and appropriate use protocols, and upgrades to hardware and software. Installing laptops rather than desktops will allow for more flexibility in how the computer lab is configured for different classes and events.

Kathleen O’Bannon, Development Director for the CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development, a non-profit organization that partners with the Grier Heights neighborhood, said, “The laptops will have a game-changing effect on the Grier Heights community - a virtual technological desert.”

The computers will be used to provide classes to residents on job readiness and computer literacy training through the Urban League. In addition to using the computers for formal classes, the community center is also working to determine “open lab” hours where residents can drop in.

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According to Grier Heights Community Center Director, Gloria Green, “There is a need across the board in Grier Heights for education and access around technology that others take for granted. Thanks to Sustain Charlotte and Skanska, we are now able to provide a safe place for all ages to complete schoolwork, learn new skills, apply for jobs, communicate with family and friends, and become a part of the wider community.”

The Grier Heights Community Center plans to publicly celebrate the opening of the computer lab during their annual neighborhood celebration on Labor Day.

We'd like to say a huge "THANK YOU!" to Skanska for their generous partnership with the Grier Heights Community Center in the form of 40 donated laptops! Sustain Charlotte is grateful for our foundation partners who support our work in Grier Heights, including the Duke Energy Foundation, Wells Fargo, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation.

This article was co-written by Meg Fencil of Sustain Charlotte and Kathleen O'Bannon of CrossRoads Corporation.


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