Computers for Kids

Computers for Kids

April 19, 2005

Life gives you bitter and sweet in the same mouthful.

In recent days I have tasted both. My mom passed away, gently in her sleep, at age 85. She was afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease, and was just at the point where she was having difficulty recognizing family. Broken hip, surgery, rehab, viral infection, and heart failure took her away at just the time I believe she would have chosen. On her last day she sang songs with a group of ladies after dinner; one of the ladies played the piano with the aid of a song list taped to the piano. The last song was God Bless America. My brother says that mom grinned from ear to ear when she sang it. That night she went to sleep and left us. Tom and I think she is dancing with dad now.

At mom’s funeral services I met people I had never known, one of mom’s childhood friends, someone she went to grade school with (mom was only able to go to school through the eight grade, which may be why she was so committed to educating kids later on), and a lovely, bent-over 90 year old man named Mario who told me mom was the maid of honor at his wedding.

I want to share another sweet moment with you. A man introduced himself as Principal of the local grade school. My mother wasn’t exactly easy to get along with for adults, but she loved being with little kids. Five years ago my parents built computer centers for the 3 grade schools in their town so the kids could learn the things they need to get good jobs when they grow up.

I had been worried about how the schools would replace the computers when they fell apart from all the little fingers. In an Illinois town of 1000 people that had been abandoned by the factories long ago I knew money was tight. Turns out I didn’t need to worry at all.

The principal told me the kids’ parents had become so convinced their kids needed to learn that they have held bake sales and fund raisers to raise money for new machines, moving the old PCs into the classrooms. The parents have even been assembling PCs from components themseslves, which brings the cost of a new PC down to just $300. Now every classroom from K-5 has a PC in the room. The young ones use them to learn to read.

Mom would have loved knowing she had planted a seed for the school kids that took root and is still growing through the efforts of their parents. She knew that we can’t afford to let our kids grow up to be unskilled workers today. So on behalf of mom I have to ask. Is there a school in your town where the kids need help too?


John Rutledge

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