Computers from Utah Blessing Foster Children in Romania
Contributed By By D. Louise Brown, Shaun Stahle
Foster children in Romania knew nothing of old computers languishing in a Utah warehouse, or that students at LDS Business College were willing to rebuild those computers, until Alexandrina Mic-Podar made a phone call that set in motion a chain reaction of events that brought all three together.
As the administrator of the Podul Dragostei Foundation, a foundation established to address social needs such as the care of foster children in Romania, Sister Mic-Podar felt she needed computers to give her academically deprived students a way to balance the educational scale.
Computers are hard to come by in Romania, she said, especially for a foundation on a rigid budget. Looking for a workable solution, she pondered her possibilities and remembered LDS Business College, where she’d graduated in 2010 after earning a two-year degree in business and accounting. She wondered if old computers might be available.
Unknown to her at that time, in a warehouse some distance away in Bountiful, Utah, was the Applied Technology Foundation, a nonprofit organization that gathers discarded computers for the purpose of distributing technology to those in need, particularly to African refugees settling in Salt Lake City.
Leaders of the foundation, Randy Burgoyne and Dennis Liffereth, learned that many companies were willing to donate old computers, though many, as they noticed, were in poor condition and needed refurbishing. They faced the challenge of finding a talented, low-cost labor force that could rebuild computers using parts from other computers.
Just around the hill from them in downtown Salt Lake City was the director of the new information technology program at LDS Business College, Spencer DeGraw, pondering how to teach his computer programming students about the inner workings of a computer. He felt his students needed hands-on experience rebuilding computers to best understand computers and network administration.
He had the students but needed a cache of computers to repair. Two well-timed phone calls connected the three parties.
Students in the program now volunteer to help rebuild computers. For many, it’s the first time they’ve pried the top off a computer. In the last months, dozens of computers have been distributed among refugees in the Salt Lake Valley, and the group plans to send some to Romania.
It is hoped that, someday, returned missionaries will find gainful employment by learning to rebuild computers from the local area.