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Many of our computer user groups were founded on the notion of users helping users. With the birth of APCUG, under the leadership of Jerry Schneider and other leaders of computer user groups, member groups began sharing with each other and started a tradition of user groups helping user groups.
It seems a logical evolution that many computer user groups began to expand the idea of helping their communities. Former APCUG president and Jerry Award founder Dan Hanson said, “Long before anyone had heard of the ‘digital divide’, user groups were actively involved in bringing the empowerment of technology to their communities.”
The 9th Annual APCUG Jerry Awards, sponsored by Microsoft Mindshare, CompUSA, Corel, Grisoft and National Cristina Foundation, were presented in Las Vegas on January 7, 2007, not only to recognize the achievements of these groups but also to provide ideas and models that might be replicated in other communities. Under the leadership of Charlotte Semple, who served as Community Service Chair for APCUG for most of 2006, groups were invited to enter projects in three categories: New, How, and Ongoing.
Don Singleton assisted in publicizing and collecting entries. Rich Schinnell coordinated the judging. The honorable judges included Yvette Marrin (National Cristina Foundation), Don Singleton (Tulsa Computer Society), Lamar Story (Rockport Computer Users' Group), William Cikanek (Central Iowa Computer User Group), Sandy Frunzi (Las Vegas PC User Group), and John Pecilunas (Sarasota PC User Group).
In the New Community Service Category the projected needed to be started in 2006 and Winners from the New or Ongoing Category in 2005 were not eligible. The third place winner was Manatee PC User group of Bradenton, FL. They collected and prepared over a dozen computers and peripherals for Whisenant Farms in Parrish, FL, where students will use them to work on their GED certificates.
Second Place in the New category was won by the Senior Surfers Computer Club of Newark, Delaware. This group partnered with the Newark Senior Center to provide free counseling and online computer assistance to local residents who were confused by the procedure for Medicare Part D enrollment.
First Place in the New category goes to the Kentucky-Indiana Personal Computer Users Group for partnering with the Healing Place, a nationally recognized homeless recovery center, to provide training and equipment to individuals seeking a productive place in society by participating in the Healing Place’s program.
The How category was created in 2004 to encourage groups to document and share tools, techniques and best practices for community service. This is the only category where the previous year’s winners were allowed to enter.
Honorable mention in the How category goes to Plateau PC User Group for their documentation of how they provide free and low cost education and internet services to the community through their computer learning centers; the Komputer Enthusiasts of Greater Seattle for documenting their project to design, build and maintain a computer facility in partnership with the local city parks department; and to the Tampa Bay Computer Society for noting items that would be useful to efficiently perform the Random Acts of Kindness Clinics.
Third place in the How category goes to a group who has been doing community service for over ten years, Computers Assisting People of Cleveland, OH. Their entry was on how to get new volunteers from traditional and non-traditional areas.
Licking County Computer Society won second place for their documentation of their program to get rid of older computers that would not have been acceptable for their refurbishing program.
Tied for first place in the How category are Fox Valley PC Association and North Texas PC User Group. The Fox Valley PC Association documented their three phase project to help the OLGC (a school) PC lab by replacing twenty-eight aging machines before the beginning of the school year. The North Texas PC User Group refurbishes computers for the blind and visually impaired and publicizes the project on their web site http://www.ntpcug.org.
Honorable mention in the Ongoing category goes to the Users Group Network for their project in partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Northridge to recondition used computers and distribute them where they are needed; to the Hilton Head Island Computer Club for their work with local non-profits to enable them to learn and grow and take on new and even more meaningful activities within their limited budgets; and the Bowling Green Area Microcomputer User Group for their work in refurbishing and delivering computers for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Third place for Ongoing projects goes to Amador Computer User Group for refurbishing and distributing computers for use in a free public computer lab they established, financially burdened families of students ranging from elementary school age to teenagers in High School, Area 12 Agency on Aging, and seniors who are bed bound.
Second place for Ongoing goes to Capital PC User Group for the work of their DCRobotics SIG with inner city youth by starting and supporting Robotics Clubs, and helping them enter robotics competitions such as the FIRST Robotics Competitions. (FRC) Students can be motivated to learn about computers, math, and science through their interest in robotics and competitions. The robotics competitions use math, computing, engineering, and science skills, but are run like sports events and are exciting entertainment. The positive impact of these competitions has been evaluated by Brandeis University http://www.usfirst.org/about/impact.htm
The first place winner for Ongoing also tied for first place in the How category. It is the North Texas PC User Group (NTPCUG). In February 2002 when the Texas Center Physically Impaired, (TCPI), had a backlog of 90 orders, NTPCUG was asked by Robert “Bob” Langford, Ph.D., to provide volunteers to help refurbish computers for the blind and the visually impaired. NTPCUG met the need and maintains all of their documentation on their community service project on their website, so that anyone can access this information. The URL is http://www.ntpcug.org/_JerryAwardApplication/index.html.
Links to additional information about all the winning projects and groups can be found on the APCUG web site at http://www.apcug.net/community_service/jerry2006/jerrys2006winners.html.
Congratulations to all the 2006 winners!