Cheap Chromebooks and Computers Available in Monterey County
In-person education and workplace interactions have moved to a virtual format amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and demand for technology has skyrocketed.
For those who couldn’t afford devices or didn’t understand how they work, Loaves, Fishes & Computers stepped in to help. Christian Mendelsohn started the Salinas-based nonprofit, which has donated thousands of devices to families during the pandemic for little to no cost.
Even before the pandemic hit, Loaves, Fishes & Computers was on a mission to provide computer literacy to low-income families.
“Much of our community is Latino, many of them are farm workers,” said Gabriela López Chávez, executive director of Loaves, Fishes & Computers. “We really hope to serve people who can’t access, can’t afford or may not know how to use a computer.”
The company serves the counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito.
Loaves, Fishes & Computers tries to bridge the digital divide by offering introductory computer workshops called Together and Connected for children and adults.
The first half of the workshop consists of learning how to repair a computer. Then there’s a breakout session where kids learn how to refurbish a computer while adults learn internet safety, from cyberbullying to awareness of who is trying to connect with kids online.
“It’s a way to connect parents and children,” said López Chávez. “In addition, they can learn to use a computer together and to be a responsible consumer of media and a responsible user.”
Loaves, Fishes & Computers distributed approximately 1,800 computers in 2019 and 2,500 computers in 2020. After providing proof of low income status, families can purchase computers for $ 59-200 and Chromebooks for $ 35. sometimes for free.
“I see it as a situation of economic justice,” said Lopez Chávez. “That’s why it’s important to do this job. This is important because if we don’t have the tools to navigate things can be denied to us.
During the pandemic, staff saw an increased need for volunteers.
The organization accepts volunteers of all ages – the youngest is currently 12 while the oldest is 70. They play different roles in the refurbishment process, including evaluating equipment to see if it is usable, opening hard drives to erase donor information, replacing old or broken ones. parts, and finally going through a comprehensive checklist for quality control.
“We are doing everything in our power to make sure that we are selling the highest quality Chrome computers and books,” said volunteer Jose Santiago in Spanish.
For people looking to volunteer, it helps if you are good with your hands and have basic computer skills. The Loaves, Fishes & Computers staff member said the organization provides “a learning environment as you go.”
Over the next three years, Loaves, Fishes & Computers will be guided by its Pay It Forward program, which aims to expand its reach in Santa Cruz County, San Benito County and all of Monterey County by increasing the development of the job.
Older and experienced computer technicians will mentor young volunteers looking to improve their skills.
Loaves, Fishes & Computers also offers Connecting Seniors with Technology, which offers free computers and basic technology courses for seniors. Classes cover internet safety, online shopping, chat or email, and many other skills.
For more information on the courses, you can call (831) 512-1330. Classes are limited to 50 Seniors aged 60 and over.
“Technology is changing rapidly and as a parent we need to know how it is changing rapidly and stay on top of our children,” said López Chávez. “There are so many social and emotional risks that your child can experience online, but there are also many incredible benefits that can be gained from it. “
David Rodriguez is the educational reporter and staff photographer at The Salinas Californian. For any advice or story ideas, you can email him at [email protected] Subscribe to support local journalism.