When a member of Northampton Neighbors mentioned that she lacked a working computer and WiFi, tech coordinator Nina Kleinberg got an idea.
What if she could get her a working laptop? But where would it come from?
NN’s Laptop Program was born. Anyone with a Windows or Mac laptop that is no more than six years old and has a camera and a microphone can donate it to Northampton Neighbors. Then members of Kleinberg’s seven-person tech team wipe the hard drive clean and get it in working order. “We take old technology that’s just collecting dust and refurbish it for people who need it,” said Kleinberg.
Since its launch in January, the program has found new homes for six laptops and has three more waiting to go. All come loaded with features such as the video conferencing plat- form Zoom to help recipients stay connected during the pandemic.
For recipient Elisa Deutschmann, the new technology has been a life-changer. Deutschmann used her laptop to sign up for ancestry.com and, as a result, has connected with a brother on her mother’s side. In addition, she has gone online for important appointments.
“None of these things would have happened if I didn't get a computer,” she said.
Fellow recipient Sandra Torrence used her new laptop to get a job as a teacher. “My old computer was broken, and I had just been offered a contract teaching job that required a computer with a mic,” she said. “Thanks to the wonderful program, I have been able to work again at the profession I love.”
Another donated laptop went to a family of Afghan refugees. NN member Rachael Naismith put the tech team in touch with a family that has used the laptop to take English classes online through Northampton’s Center for New Americans. Eventually, the children will use the laptop for schoolwork, and the adults to search for and apply for jobs.
All laptop donations to Northampton Neighbors are tax-deductible. For more information contact NN at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-341-0160.