The traditional volunteering options around picking up trash or restoring a park are great and needed but I prefer to use what I already know to pass along skills that result in a better quality of life. One big way to improve quality of life is through access to technology and the internet. Just last week The White House sent a team of technologists to work with The City of Detroit to examine their current technologies and landscape.
Here’s how you can get involved in metro Detroit through technology-oriented volunteer organizations.
Project Click Detroit
Project Click is volunteers teaching computer skills at community centers in Detroit. It started when Uyoung Park was volunteering with homeless youths and was given a bunch of computers in good working order that had been being replaced by newer ones. She went around to community centers to see who needed them the most and found most community centers have computer labs but were reluctant to let people use them unsupervised and had a greater need for people to teach classes. Project Click was then founded to address this need.
The group teaches basic computer usage, including explanations about the computer and the internet and how to use email, search the web and find useful information. There is also a more advanced class on how to use Microsoft Office for those who already know basic computer skills or have completed the introductory class. The students are all age ranges and backgrounds.
The program ends with a celebratory graduation ceremony where participants who went for at least nine of the ten classes get a certificate and everyone enjoys snacks while each person in the program gets a chance to speak to the group. Students who graduate are better able to communicate with relatives via email and social media plus are better equipped to participate in the job market by being able to find and apply for jobs online.
How You Can Help: Volunteers are needed to help teach and keep the curriculum up to date. You can read more and find out how to volunteer on projectclickdetroit.org
Motor City Free Geeks
MCFG takes in computers and other tech equipment in any condition and refurbishes the working ones and responsibly recycles older or unusable equipment. Free Geeks stared in Portland, Oregon and the model and name has spread throughout the United States. Old or broken computers are broken down into their parts and then recycled. Usable computers are securely erased and a free, open-source Linux-based operating system is installed and the computers are re-used. Computers are given away to worthy organizations and individuals who volunteer at Motor City Free Feeks. As a revenue source to help keep the place going, some equipment and computers are in the walk-in store and others are sold on EBay and craigslist.
How You Can Help: Any older or newer computer or technology equipment can be donated to MCFG during their open donation times. The organization has a real need for volunteers to help out all over. Volunteers who need a computer can also earn one through their volunteering work. There is also an opportunity to earn credit towards an A+ Certification through hands-on training with all the equipment there. You can find out more on motorcityfreegeek.net.
Guest blogger Scott Kloustin is a technology entrepreneur and lifelong learner. He is actively involved in Grow Detroit, several startups, and teaches technology-based entrepreneurship to kids and adults. You can find him on Twitter: @ScottKloustin