April Tedder of Orondo became friends with Bruce and Cathy Clark, owners of Blue Rooster Services in Waterville, through a Facebook group.
Through the pandemic, they helped each other out several times. Particularly the Clarks had to quarantine at one point, and Tedder brought them vegetables from her garden. When Tedder got sick with COVID, the Clarks offered help to her, and in fact drove down to provide her with an electric blanket one cold, icy night.
When in conversation, Tedder talked about the difficulties of having four children and herself all needing to use computers for school, Bruce Clark offered Tedder some free laptops that he had restored through his Phoenix Project, a project in which he collects donated used computers and restores them to give away to those who can use them.
Tedder said she at first responded by saying, “I think we’re fine.”
She didn’t want to take computers away from people who might need them more than her family.
Clark responded he has plenty of computers, and so Tedder accepted a laptop and a stand-alone computer.
“It was a really good deal,” Tedder said, adding Clark installed all the programs that her kids would probably need before giving them the computers.
Now two sons who are attending Wenatchee Valley College, two sons who are in the third and fifth grades at Orondo School, and Tedder herself, who is enrolled in an online program to obtain a master’s degree in social work, have the computers they need to get their work done.
Clark started his project in January and has given away four computers. He has eight available to give away at this point.
Clark said when he is approached by someone who needs a computer, his first step is to find out what they need it for. He especially likes to help people who will be using computers for educational purposes.
If he feels the person will be able to put the computer to good use, he asks about the functions the person uses in order to be better able to match him or her with the right machine.
He also installs the programs and applications that might be helpful. These include a full Office suite, Text Editor, E-book Reader, Video Editor, Software Manager, and programs like Stellarium, which helps users to explore the night sky, Audacity, which helps edit music files, and more.
He always installs the Linux system, which is an alternative to Windows.
When this system is installed, everything else on the computer is erased, so there is never any concern to donors that personal information will remain on the computer.
Asked how he got interested in the project, Clark said, “I guess I’m just a nerd.”
Then he added, “It’s sort of sad to see still good computers that could be renovated just going to waste when people out there have needs and can use them.”
Clark said that it usually takes him about one hour to restore a computer and have it ready for use. He said computers that stop working can almost always be recovered by someone who knows how, and this is even more true of the computer that is just slow.
Those who have a computer they would like to donate, and those who have a need for one can contact Clark by phone at 731-3138 or by email at email@example.com.