It was the perfect partnership. Stephen Palaszewski knew technology and how to fix computers. Robert Hofacker knew how to spread the word.
Nearly 20 years ago, the two men, both of whom worked at Lucent Technologies, learned each was involved in getting recycled computers to organizations in need. Hofacker was helping to deliver computers to the blind. Palaszewski was bringing old computers he restored to Whippany, NJ area preschools.
The two crossed paths in 1995 and created a computer donation program. It is on of the activities of The New Outlook Pioneers’ Morris Club, part of the non-profit Telecom Pioneers. Their club consists of a small corps of half a dozen dedicated, retired telecommunications industry volunteers who have combined the dual mission of saving electronics from landfills and giving the technology for free to those who can’t afford to buy new computers. Following is a brief summary of our program.
Chapter 132 of The New Outlook Pioneers provides personal computers (PCs) to schools and non-profit agencies throughout New Jersey. Recipients include preschools. churches, handicapped individuals and the blind. Our goals are two-fold: 1) to encourage and foster the learning of basic educational skills through the use of modern technology and 2) to provide cost- effective technology solutions to empower the non-profit sector.
The PC donation program refurbishes and upgrades PCs that are no longer needed by local businesses. The process developed by the Pioneers includes the following activities:
I-Refurbish PCs and/or assemble PC components into systems.
2-Install an operating system and educational or office software on each PC by cloning a master hard drive.
3-Deliver, setup and test the PCs at the non-profit or school.
4-Provide ongoing support to the recipient institution to solve any software or hardware problems that may develop.
When they first got started, Palaszewski, a thermal engineer, had computers stacked in his office that he repaired and loaded with educational software he bought for his son. Lucent donated a room for them to store the equipment, and he would spend his lunch hour and some evenings on the project. Eventually, Palaszewski created a master hard drive that could be cloned without limit, so restored computers could be loaded with all the needed software within 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, through word of mouth, and Hofacker’s efforts in contacting local preschools, more and more groups began to call for help. Hofacker would take the orders and within weeks deliver the computers and hook them up.
Our PC Donation Program is hosted by Morris Habitat for Humanity in Randolph, NJ. School. Non-profit agency employees routinely visit our PC Lab to pick up free computer equipment for use in their organizations.
Our preschool donation program focuses on the development of basic learning skills, such as math, vocabulary, reading, language and problem solving. Our PCs make learning exciting and fun while helping to develop basic computer skills.
We refurbish laptops and donate them to The Communicating Computers for the Blind Foundation. Screen reading software installed on these laptops is used by the instructors to teach blind individuals to use office software, email and the internet.
We have donated over 7,000 PCs to hundreds of organizations since the start of the program in 1995.
To donate PCs or to request PCs for your organization. please contact:
The New Outlook Pioneers Morris Club