The last time Dorothy Dicks was in a computer class, years ago in community college, the professor moved so fast that she got left behind. But at the free Computer and Internet Classes sponsored by Comcast and offered by the People’s Emergency Center (PEC), she says things were different. The instructor “has patience, he lets you ask questions, and he doesn’t move on until everyone has got it.”
As a church administrator, Ms. Dicks previously had to ask someone else to input donations or make flyers on the computer. But she’s not stopping there; in the future she hopes to utilize social media to grow her church and increase its capacity to share resources with the community. Like most of the students, Ms. Dicks is learning for her benefit, but she also wants to help other people with her new skills.
Ms. Dicks is one of 157 adult students to graduate from the PEC’s classes in 2014 which were funded by Comcast as part of an Internet Essentials grant honoring the efforts of community partners in bridging the digital divide. The PEC also delivered 18 pop-up labs serving over 500 Philadelphians.
Another student, Annie Campbell, who completed both the Beginner and Intermediate levels, wrote a letter to the instructor, Kwaku “KB” Boateng, thanking him, PEC, and Comcast for the opportunity:
I appreciate the time you spend laboring to teach myself and others like me practical computer skills for life. Prior to attending People’s Emergency Center for computer classes, I did not know how to effectively use Microsoft office applications. Under your instructions I flourished. I learned to take my time and to duplicate the process of creating a flyer, a news-letter etc. until I was either satisfied with it, or the assignment was due.
Now I’m adventurous enough to try things at home that we have not done in class. If I can’t figure something out, I ask questions about it in class. I’m proud of what I have learned, so I show off my work. My daughter and my church members have commissioned (no pay) me to make flyers for them. All entities involved desired me to generate donation flyers for cleaning supplies etc. I’m pleased that they are content with the finished product and in the interim I enjoy the challenge.
In closing, I would like to thank all the individuals at People’s Emergency Center, the Center for Digital Inclusion and Technology, Comcast and the numerous other sponsors who made this program possible. Because of your generosity I have learned a valuable skill which makes me a viable candidate for employment thereby increasing my earnings.
This spring, the PEC will continue to offer Basic and Introduction classes, which are currently registered at capacity. Comcast makes these classes possible as part of our efforts to bridge the digital divide through Internet Essentials.
“Personal stories like Annie’s and Dorothy’s – of how people’s worlds are expanded by the ability to use a computer and access the Internet – are the most gratifying feedback we get from our partners like PEC,” said Comcast Vice president of Community Investment Bob Smith. “If we can make the futures of these Philadelphians a little brighter, it’s all worth it.”