GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Twenty used desktop computers were wheeled out of Colorado Mountain College's Central Services administrative building on Dec. 20, but this wasn't the end of the road for the units.
The college donated them to Mountain Valley Developmental Services, where they will find a new use for Mountain Valley's clients as a tool for learning and connecting with the community.
Patty Daniells was key to linking the two organizations. When Daniells first learned that computers were being replaced in one of CMC's training labs last summer, she immediately knew a program in great need of the old units.
As program director of High Country Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a nonprofit that recruits community members over 55 for volunteering with agencies meeting a critical need, Daniells regularly works with Mountain Valley. But she's also aware of them on a much more personal level; her 28-year-old daughter, Catherine, is developmentally delayed and has received services from the agency for six years.
Mountain Valley is based in Glenwood Springs and provides a comprehensive array of services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Those services include group homes and apartments where developmentally challenged individuals can live on their own, as well as employment services and day programs where clients attend classes.
Daniells knew the agency lacked computers for its day programs. She also knew Mountain Valley clients who have no other way of accessing computers would greatly benefit from CMC's used units.
Daniells said she originally asked for 10 of the college's retired computers; she received approval for 20 desktop units.
"Colorado Mountain College gave over and above what we needed," said Daniells. "We're that many more steps closer to this program taking off, now that they have these computers."
As part of its surplus technology policy, the college donates retired systems, mainly laptops and desktops, to qualifying in-district nonprofits, said Jim English, director of networks and technical services at CMC.
English said the college is on a three-year recycling cycle; at the end of the cycle, he considers requests for donations of any retired systems. The policy gives priority to public, in-district, K-12 schools but will consider in-district nonprofits if enough units are available.
"CMC tries to dispose of older units in an educational and sustainable way," English said. "This was a perfect opportunity for us to provide technology to these individuals."
John Klausz, director of vocational services at Mountain Valley, said the computers will help their clients in three different ways: learning basic computer skills; teaching fundamental skills such as reading, math and literacy; and connecting to the world through email and social media.
The computers will be split between Mountain Valley's day programs in Silt and Glenwood Springs and perhaps some group homes, Klausz said.
High Country RSVP, a sponsored program of Colorado Mountain College, will also provide another valuable service with the computers. They recruited volunteer Gary Steinen to help set up the units and teach basic computer classes to Mountain Valley clients.
Steinen has extensive experience in computer technology from years as a school administrator in Ohio, and has worked with individuals with disabilities from ages 3 to 80.
"The computers will provide [Mountain Valley clients] with access to the community," he said. "It will really help their self-esteem and confidence with technology."
"The combination of RSVP providing volunteers, CMC providing resources and Mountain Valley providing ongoing support will provide another basic need of communication that our individuals didn't have," Klausz said. "These computers will give our individuals another way of pursuing their interests and building relationships."
Klausz said Mountain Valley may still need to purchase adaptive technology and software for the computers, but assuming everything is ready to go, the computers should be in use sometime in January.